Words by John Degnan
Photo by J. Lockridge
“What happened to the freaks?” Nick Kirshnit wonders aloud. Kirshnet, along with band mate Eli Chalmer, aren’t shy about their distaste (or maybe it's ambivalence) for today’s popular music. The musicians are two thirds of a trio named Durians, not “the” Durians, as they insist they have no affiliation with the Norwegian acid-jazz band that shares their name. Kirshnit and Chalmer, minus their drummer Simon Plumpton, had come to Big Heavy World to discuss the “hodgepodge of our take on sub-genres of electronica.” Just prior to the interview they appeared on 'Rocket Shop,' Big Heavy World's weekly local music radio hour broadcast on WOMM-LP 105.9FM The Radiator.
Durians, which is currently in the middle of a February residency at Nectar’s in downtown Burlington, is a genre-melding power trio of live, electroacoustic dance beat experimentation. The word “electroacoustic” is used intentionally. Finding acoustic sounds too limiting, the trio incorporate computers into every dimension of their sound. The sounds from acoustic instruments such as trumpets, trombones, guitars, and even an old fashioned recorder are fed through computers and modulated to the artist’s liking. “Computers enable the world,” Chalmer exclaims, his eyes lighting up with possibilities. All three of Durians’ members are multi instrumentalists. Kirshnit specializes in electric/MIDI bass, laptop, and trumpet. Chalmer gets creative with keyboards, laptop, trombone, recorder, and a gizmo called a lunchbox. Plumpton holds onto the heartbeat of the group with drums and electronic percussion.
Finding the Burlington, Vermont scene hard to break into with their unusual blend of experimental dance music, Durians are ready to tour. The musicians aspire to “travel and find the freaks” where their music is celebrated as the main focus, rather than the background ambiance it has been at some Vermont live music venues. Montreal, Québec is a possibility, as there is a strong experimental music community there. Until then, Durians will continue to experiment and create new sounds and melodies that push the boundaries of traditional music genres.