Double-neck guitars are inherently ridiculous. Did Jimmy Page really need to cart that gigantic Gibson EDS-1275 along on tour just so he could switch from 12-string to 6-string for the solo in “Stairway to Heaven”? Of course not. He played it on a double-neck because it looked cool.
If you’ve seen El Ten Eleven’s Kristian Dunn before you’ve heard him play, you might wonder what he’s trying to prove by strapping on an instrument with one neck for guitar and one for bass. You wonder, What’s he going to do? Play them both at the same time? And then you see him do exactly that. Dunn also loops some of his parts using effects pedals, creating the sound of several guitarists and bassists playing at once. On top of that is the extraordinary drumming of Tim Fogarty, who provides powerful dynamics and rhythmic complexity.
It’s amazing that just two guys can make such a big sound, and watching them do it onstage can be mind-blowing. But when you listen to El Ten Eleven’s all-instrumental music at home, it’s interesting, even if you don’t know how it’s made. A lot of El Ten Eleven’s music fits in that hard-to-find category of instrumental music that you can play in the background while you get some work done but which also rewards closer listening. There’s also a distinct sense of humor at work. Mostly that shows up in song titles such as “I Like Van Halen Because My Sister Says They Are Cool,” but it’s also unmistakable in the band’s weird cover of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android.”
EL TEN ELEVEN: Soda Bar, Saturday, December 31, 9 p.m. 619-255-7224. $15.