Nursery rhymes from hell: Johnny Mox brings us doom and dread disguised as something carefree and childish. Imagine “Row Row Row Your Boat” but recorded by the people who brought us the Blair Witch Project: grainy, out of focus, handmade, and a real sucker punch to a listener’s sense of all things cheerful. Like a Moby from the dark side, Johnny Mox seems enchanted with the image of the country preacher, the old-school type of swindler that could sell central heating to the devil. Mox sings almost everything in the style of a round, meaning he harmonizes against himself via the use of electronics, then adds gospel and blues music and guitar and drums and samples of sermons to form a thing that, in its own way, is new. In the end, the tracks rumble with bombast and some kind of inner vacuum cleaner, not unlike that of early Jon Spencer.
There’s not a lot in print about Mr. Mox, and most of what there is was written in Italian, which makes sense when you come to find out that Mox is really Gianluca Taraborelli, from the small college town of Trento in Northern Italy. If Google Translate is even close to being correct, then Taraborelli also drummed in the bands Sisters and Nurse! Nurse! Nurse! prior to stepping out and starting the Moxsters of the Universe, a five-piece rock act fronted by Mox and his various effects pedals. Johnny Mox is pure fiction, then, a character that works as a loop artist. What Mox does is he records (and/or performs live) lyrics and effects and samples and beats, and then he carefully stacks them in sonic layers to produce his little sound explosions. He also works alone, Johnny Mox does, with a boom box and a bunch of prerecorded samples and a mic and a drum kit and a light show.
This Awesome Fest 7 pre-party features several bands, and Johnny Mox is the first. Hit the Soda Bar site for the complete list of performers.
Johnny Mox: Soda Bar, Thursday, August 29, 6 p.m. 619-225-7224. $10.