Tag Archives: El Ten Eleven


El Ten Eleven and Emile Mosseri Move Rough Trade NYC Audience

August 16th, 2017

El Ten Eleven Featuring Emile Mosseri – Rough Trade NYC – August 15, 2017

El Ten Eleven are an instrumental band in the truest sense of the word. The two—Kristian Dunn on basses and guitar, Tim Fogarty on drums—bend their instruments to their will, pushing them to their limits with electronics and other implements. That’s what they did for the first half of their show at Rough Trade NYC lst night. Playing a range of fan favorites from across their 10-plus years of releases as well as some too-new-to-have-names songs, the duo was in fine form. Gone were the elaborate lights and spectacle from their last area performance. This was just Dunn and Fogarty creating emotional soundscapes in their complicated calculus of compositions. Dunn seemed to play both coming and going, using his double-neck bass-guitar to fill the room with an array of sound before moving to a fretless bass for a section of what he referred to as “dance party” selections. The set list and the grooves kept the audience happy and moving, none more so than “My Only Swerving.”

If you had been at that last show, you might also remember when Emile Mosseri came out to sing a song with the pair. That was a small preview for the second part of Tuesday’s set, which featured Mosseri prominently, Dunn and Fogarty moving to backing-band status as the now-trio played songs from a forthcoming album. Behind Mosseri’s falsetto, the group became a different thing, creating a subtler, textured soundscape. After one or two songs, Mosseri grabbed an acoustic guitar and three members of the opening electro-rock band Pete International Airport joined on backup vocals on songs like “I’m Right Here.” What had once been a larger-than-life duo was now a large-ish band, but the sound actually became lighter. For their final song, Dunn moved back to the double-neck and introduced some unobtrusive loops again, Fogarty slightly bringing back the tempo to a typical El Ten Eleven speed, the music meeting midway between the first and second halves of the show and perhaps hinting at the potential of things to come. —A. Stein | @Neddyo


El Ten Eleven Are Anything but Accidental on Saturday Night

November 14th, 2016

El Ten Eleven – Music Hall of Williamsburg – November 12, 2016

(Photo: Rozette Rago)

(Photo: Rozette Rago)

Was it an accident that the lights went down at Music Hall of Williamsburg for Saturday’s El Ten Eleven show at exactly 10:11? Maybe yes, maybe no, but with those guys, it doesn’t feel like anything is an accident. For Kristian Dunn on basses and guitars and Tim Fogarty on drums, precision is key. Their songs are constructions of riffs and loops and samples and beats, and in many ways it’s as much math and engineering as anything else. Within the first two songs, Dunn dazzled with complicated double taps on his double-neck guitar-bass, utilized an EBow, expertly layered multiple sampled melodies and had Fogarty bang out a riff on his bass with drumsticks. But as the show progressed, it was clear that there was an emotional core to that precision, that the serious gear and the serious talent made it possible to make inspired music that was fun to dance to.

“Living on Credit Blues” about “how annoying it is when you’re poor,” according to Dunn, found a moving melody, a humanity in the how’d-they-do-that playing. “Disorder,” a Joy Divison cover, exhibited a lyrical beauty in its instrumental El Ten Eleven form. “Fanshawe,” off their self-titled debut album, was a gorgeous piece of bass playing. Throughout the set, Dunn was a Seurat of the strings, a musical pointillist creating awe-inspiring artwork out of large numbers of individually expressed notes. The band sounded great, their constant touring and a genuine love of what they’re doing shining through. They also looked great, with their own onstage rig providing dramatic multicolored backlighting and atmospheric smoke to enhance the music. The middle of the set was dedicated to several yet-to-be-named new pieces, one feeling like the theme song for a video-game villain, another had light-touch six-string guitar notes melting in a floor of low-end drum-machine furnace that vibrated the room.

Somewhat unexpectedly, the band brought out Emile Mosseri from the Dig to sing vocals, quite possibly an El Ten Eleven first. Mosseri’s gliding falsetto worked almost perfectly with Dunn and Fogarty’s sound, pointing to perhaps a new direction for the veteran duo. The latter portion of the show was consumed by old “hits”—including “I Like Van Halen Because My Sister Says They Are Cool,” “Connie” and “My Only Swerving”—that had the crowd giddy at each ecstatic climax. When Dunn announced that they had reached the end of the show, it was a bit of a pump fake as they delivered three more songs, with the show-closing “Transitions” a lengthy, multipart composition that delivered on several levels, ultimately peaking at just the right moment, which was, I am sure, no accident at all. —A. Stein | @Neddyo


Double the Fun with Two Nights of El Ten Eleven Live This Weekend

November 10th, 2016

For close to a decade and a half, bassist and composer Kristian Dunn and drummer Tim Fogarty have been making sweet groove-oriented instrumental post-rock music out of Los Angeles as El Ten Eleven (above, performing “My Only Swerving”). They’ve expertly combined drum and bass with heavy looping and effects pedals over the course of six full-length studio albums filled with songs that are downtrodden but upbeat. The most recent of which, Fast Forward (stream it below), came out last year. Written and recorded on the heels of Fogarty’s father passing away, it “maps the melancholic expanse of human grief and memory, coloring it, however, with a melodic brightness,” according to PopMatters. “Fast Forward emphasizes the way multiple voices are expressed and reshaped through various stages of interaction, finding unique expressions of grief in its complex instrumentation.” Currently on an East Coast swing, the lively performers play Music Hall of Williamsburg on Saturday and Garcia’s at the Capitol Theatre on Sunday.


Music from the Future

October 24th, 2012

El Ten Eleven – The Bowery Ballroom – October 23, 2012

The scene: two figures in silhouette against a backdrop of illuminated square panels, one playing a double-necked guitar/bass, the other on drums. The square panels pulse with color like computer bits flipping between 1’s and 0’s as the two musicians produce a dense, fractal sound—a music from the future. The fluorescent image is of some digital dance party, a rave inside an X-Box, Tron style, but this isn’t a video game, it’s The Bowery Ballroom in New York City on a Tuesday night in October, and those guys aren’t a computer program but El Ten Eleven from Los Angeles playing music live and in the flesh.

Their set started, appropriately, at 11, and the energy level in the room started at level 10 and didn’t let up for a full 90 minutes of music that matched mathematical precision with surprising beauty and fluttering dance grooves. Despite a new album coming out in a couple of weeks, the duo played a set filled with much of their live-show staples from the past five years. Their first time playing The Bowery Ballroom after years in the smaller clubs of Lower Manhattan, Kristian Dunn on bass and guitar and Tim Fogarty on drums made the most of the opportunity while the audience of acolytes old and new joyfully yelped and boogied away this not-a-secret-anymore show. Dunn and Fogarty are a synthesizer in the truest sense of the word, chemists building up each song from a foundation of simple elements: beats and riffs, layered, looped and self-accompanied until POOF!: ecstatic explosions of mind-melting music. The overheard whispered commentary in the crowd was entertaining, all of it roughly paraphrasing “How’d they do that?”

As the set wound through the late night, newer songs were introduced. “Yellow Bridges,” the single from the forthcoming Transitions album, was exemplar: a nearly unfathomable array of sounds. The panels took on, predictably, a yellow hue, but this wasn’t a digital yellow/not-yellow shade, but more like an analog rainbow of Pantone yellows, perfectly representing the varying shades and degrees in the music itself. You didn’t need a degree in structural engineering to unpack the layers of sound within the song, the inspiring beauty packed under strata of disco thumps erupting through flourishes of calculus and non-Euclidean geometry … but it couldn’t hurt. Another new one, the title track, was a 15-plus minute epic that was self-described as “really hard to play” by Dunn and unfolded in a confounding, prog-y origami of odd time signatures and whiplash energy. You didn’t need a degree in psychology to figure out how one guy could produce all those conflicting sounds and emotions in one piece, joy on top of anger on top of inquisitive curiosity… but it couldn’t hurt. —A. Stein


Duo Thrills Mercury Lounge

September 20th, 2010

El Ten Eleven – Mercury Lounge – September 18, 2010

El Ten Eleven - Mercury Lounge - September 18, 2010
If you had closed your eyes during El Ten Eleven’s set at Mercury Lounge on Saturday, the music may have sounded not entirely different from the glitch rock of Dosh, the band that played just before their set. But with eyes open it was easy to see how different the group approaches that sound. Armed with two different double-necked axes (one neck for bass, one for guitar), Kristian Dunn led the duo with dazzling dexterity on the necks of his guitars and the pedals that he fed and looped his many sounds through. Drummer Tim Fogarty oscillated between a full drum kit and a handful of electronic drum equipment tucked into the corner of his setup, providing a blend of rugged and danceable sounds beneath Dunn’s loops. That flexibility let them wander from jazz-style tracks to songs that could be right off a Faint album.

When Dunn wasn’t speeding through blindingly fast picking and hammering, he orchestrated sounds much larger than a two-piece normally has, but without using his pedals as a crutch. Cleverly constructed lines complemented one another each time they looped around, which allowed Dunn to improvise over them, and just as that action built to a climax he and Fogarty would halt the momentum and move to the next part of the song, toying with and exciting the crowd. In fact the packed house was so attuned to El Ten Eleven’s music that there were distinct moments of call-and-response between the crowd and the band, an odd experience when there are no lyrics to prompt it. This was a pure musician’s set, made especially for those who appreciate music in all of its detailed facets. —Sean O’Kane

Photos courtesy of Sean O’Kane | seanokanephoto.com


El Ten Eleven – Mercury Lounge – April 29, 2009

May 4th, 2009

el-ten-elevenAbout two-thirds of the way into El Ten Eleven’s late-night set at Mercury Lounge, a guy in the crowd muttered “holy shit.” It summed up my feelings exactly. There are few bands out there that make people involuntarily curse like that, and these guys—just a bass-and-drums duo—are in that category.

There are three ways to enjoy El Ten Eleven: 1. You can sit there and wonder where all that music comes from. (Yeah, it’s just two musicians, but there’s a deep layering of loops, samples and overdubs.) 2. You can marvel at the technical talent. (These guys—Kristian Dunn, on basses, guitars and all those pedals, and Tim Fogarty, on drums—are damn good. Whether it’s Dunn simultaneously double-tapping melody and bass lines on two separate necks of the same instrument or Fogarty going part man, part machine, there’s plenty to keep the most critical of music geeks agape.) And, lastly, 3. You can just sit back and enjoy the music.

All of that gadgetry and talent don’t mean anything if the output’s no good. But with El Ten Eleven, that’s not a problem. This is an electro-dance-indie rock that feeds the body and the brain. At times, the set was the stuff that fills the HAL 9000’s dreams and at other times it was the disco grooves that Stormtroopers get down to after a long day on the Death Star. Dunn coaxed sounds from the beyond and then wrapped new sounds around the old ones—as if he were going back in time to play music with himself over and over again. If you ever wondered what would happen if you time-traveled and met yourself in the past, now we know that you could make some kick-ass music. —A. Stein