Friday, July 3, 2009

David Bernabo - Bloomfield's Avant Rocker

david bernabo
David Bernabo credit: Sort Of Records

Hey, Old Mon does check his e-mail every so often. Today, he got a note from David Bernabo, who's releasing his CD "Happener-Magicker" on July 11th at Brillobox, with MoIP. It was two years in the making, and is the full-length follow-up to the EP "Mahler Box," which featured four rock tunes, two orchestral pieces, and two remixes.

Bernabo is one of the hardest working guys in the Pittsburgh music scene, having played in a variety of groups, recorded several albums (eight, if we're counting correctly), and is a well-known dude in the City's music and arts community.

And he got his start in Greenfield, Old Mon's slice of heaven for the past three decades, so we gladly lent him an ear, even though his family later moved to the North Hills and he now lives in Bloomfield.

His latest band, David Bernabo + Assembly, makes a pretty good noise. But don't try to pigeon-hole the sound. His current label, Ray Morin's Sort Of Records, based in Friendship, describes his music as a "sweeping concoction of pop, jazz-rock, and modern classical, all with a subtle anarchist twist."

Well, we don't know about all that, but to call the Assembly avant-rock wouldn't be too far off base. His work draws on Frank Zappa, Eberhard Weber, Marvin Gaye, Wilco, Jim O'Rourke, David Grubbs and Paul Klee. We heard brief snatches of Steely Dan and U-2 sneak into the music, too. And yah, piano-driven classical and pop tinged jazz cuts are thrown in the mix, making for a pretty mellow collection of songs.

Just the band is an interesting collection in itself. The 25-piece Assembly counts on Bernabo, Chris James, Daniel Gene Newman II, Owl Barns, and Brandon Masterman as its live core.

They form the nucleus, drawing on other artists like Julie Sokolow (Western Vinyl), Will Dyar (ex-Oakley Hall), Raymond Morin (yah, the Sort Of Records honcho), Clarence Grant, Jairan Sedeghi, Josh Beyer, Jessica Fenlon, Ben Harris, and Lindsay Clark to fill in the "Happener-Magicker" backing roster.

A pretty eclectic mix, to be sure, just like the ringmaster, Bernabo. He's played with bands Vale and Year, DBL D, Boxstep, 9th Ward, Daryl Fleming's Blockhouse Band, and HiTEC. Bernabo's done some production work, too, and even written soundtracks for Nintendo.

Music isn't his only talent; he's a visual artist as well. He's written several comics published by the Unicorn Mountain art collective, done album cover design, and had shows featuring his drawings.

His poetry has been published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Falderol, and the Oakland Review, and a collaboration with Greg Cislon yielded "Holy Music and Art," a book of vignettes and experimental writing published by Incredibly Thin.

Hey, the guy's even got a finance degree from CMU's Tepper School of Business. Dave Bernabo is well on his way to becoming plebeian Pittsburgh's one-man Cultural District.

"Ivtto" - Dave Bernabo + Assembly

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