Here at the University, it is far too easy to feel swallowed. Quite salient is the idea that we are at school, at this school, on this maize and blue campus, still trapped under the same fluorescent floods in the same claustrophobic Hatcher cubicle that looks out upon expanses still coddled in the arms of the University. Sometimes when trapped in an isolated study box the last human contact you’ve had is the little prurient note on the outlet, or maybe it’s that warming feeling you get when your fingers match the claw marks on the wall and you begin to wonder if some other poor soulmate out there matches your girthsome fingers or if it’s just the same claw marks you left last week before your EECS midterm. Sometimes when this happens you decide on a last ditch effort for humanity or human connection, so you don your warmest wear, wield an umbrella and walk toward Kerrytown in a night with a comfortable chill.
There is an ominous intimacy about Kerrytown Concert House. Being such a small venue, the art-clad walls support the venue’s ambiance very well. Last Wednesday, the stage played host to KOZM – a duo consisting of Javier Orman (violin) and Tom Farrell (guitar). Their smiles wide, their energy infectious, it was obvious that, even if no one else was going to have fun that night, Orman and Farrell were going to. After a brief introduction a Latin-flamenco-folk-fiddle cacophony washed over the unsuspecting audience. KOZM took over and immediately took control.
The sound the duo manages to create is impressive. Each instrument plays an integral role in creating a bed of sound, and some extended technique is used to create an occasional percussive presence. Both of these men can play their instruments like the best of them. Orman’s lickety-split fingers bolted across the neck, and Farrell’s guitar playing can only be described as athletic — their performance was a virtuosic display of stamina.
Despite the high-energy playing and fluttering dissonance, the group’s songs are elegant, delicate, cross-genre amalgamations. At times the violin’s lines were Latin inspired, at others they were folk-derived and, in some songs, they sounded like a hair metal guitar solo. Nevertheless, KOZM wonderfully managed to put all these jagged puzzle pieces in the correct spot to create something unique and interesting.
The music was excellent, but the charisma of the performers set the night over the top. The two were unafraid to engage the audience, talking to them, asking questions and sharing anecdotes between songs. After the show was over, KOZM left the stage directly into the audience, introducing themselves personally to each member. Orman explained that the show was the group’s first in Ann Arbor and that it was his first time back in this city since receiving his Master’s here in 2009.
In early October, the group released the live album Panic That Way and back in 2013 released hello Kaleidoscope, a full length album. Halloweek is over — we’re all tired of hearing overplayed pop songs and “Hotline Bling” for the 12th time. Add something spicy to your mix, and go give KOZM a listen.