Music » This Little Underground

Goodbye to Tom Petty, the audiovisual wonder of Sound of Ceres, the loving return of former local Ariel Bui



I hate that this space has been an obituary lately but if anyone deserves a big pour on the floor, it's Tom Petty, a Gainesville boy and one of the most classic and quintessentially American voices of all time.


Sound of Ceres are a relatively new Brooklyn band that comes with some deep credentials: They're on Joyful Noise Recordings, and are loaded with members from Candy Claws, the Drums and the Apples in Stereo. Their particular brand of dreampop exists on a stranger plane steeped in psychedelia and electronics. But to get too into just their sound is to miss much, perhaps the majority, of their concept and aesthetic.

As their recent Orlando show just ahead of the release of their sophomore album (The Twin) proved, this is a band conceived to be seen live, with elaborate stagecraft that arguably bests their highly textured soundscapes. First of all, their laser game is serious. Just as notable is that it's neither high technology nor passive backdrop. They work the beams with basic fog, screens and mirrors to produce 3-D effects, and the most moving moments are when the players manipulate the light manually, which they do with great purpose and precision. While their etheric music often drifts, their visual presentation is a thing of exceptional focus. Low-tech but high-effect, this is next-level DIY production.

Combined, their music and optical flair are chemistry that turns a room into a nocturnal wonderland of intergalactic rendering. Until you see them live, you've only scratched the surface of the multimedia Sound of Ceres experience.

Launching the night was nice local surprise Aveleon. This solo project of Caitlin Pequignot is an indie-pop act that combines electronic and classical. The intimate digital production of her tracks is both counterbalanced and warmed by the airy, organic touch of her violin and her clear, velvet voice. Her violin playing is for real, too, and not just for texture or layer. When it comes in, it leads. And her pillow-crooning voice is the kind that inhabits a room and makes it breathe. Taken together, it's lovely pop music with just enough twist to catch.


When Ariel Bui was in Orlando last decade as a Rollins student, she was perhaps known more for her active but behind-the-scenes work in the city's music community. But it's good to see this homegrown, now-Nashville talent return as a feature artist herself, one of both cultivation and achievement.

Bui's cabaret country is a modern, torchlit abstraction of vintage countrypolitan sounds. Led by her long, suspended voice, the music unfolds like Mazzy Star channeling Patsy Cline. Purposefully minimal, sonorous and full of atmosphere, it's a vision that dovetails with the luminous class of artists like Angel Olsen.

As a live trio, her band provides her depth without sacrificing her raw resonance. More than just the playing, though, it was a show radiant with personality and heart. From between-song reflections filled with Orlando remembrances, Bui's appreciation for her local roots was palpable. That, honestly, would've been enough to make it an especially intimate night. But just as moving was her getup, which included a Billy Manes shirt and a shaved head in solidarity with her Nashville friend Jessi Zazu, the electrifying frontwoman of Those Darlins whom I saluted in last week's column as a star recently dimmed far too soon by cancer.

Worth noting is that this was the latest local show, not coincidentally booked by Tierney Tough's OYG Presents, to be contributing to the Billy Manes Foundation. And it was a mutually affecting homecoming with a room as glad to have Ariel Bui back as she was to be on her old turf again, this time rightfully in the spotlight.

If you missed it, there are more area opportunities this next week to catch her while she's home. Locally, there will be a listening party featuring Bui's traveling multimedia art exhibit on Wednesday (Oct. 11, 7 p.m.) at Park Ave CDs and a solo performance Saturday at the Gallery at Avalon Island (Oct. 14, 7 p.m.).

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