With the Disco Biscuits existing in something of a musical purgatory these days, playing only large scale events like Camp Bisco and Mayan Holidaze, founding members Marc Brownstein (bass) and Aron Magner (keys) are focused squarely on Conspirator, the side project they developed in 2004. Enfolding guitarist Chris Michetti into a permanent guitar slot and calling on a rotating cast of talented livetronica drummers, the band just released Unlocked: Live from the Georgia Theater on SCI Fidelity. Crisscrossing the country all spring and summer like the touring hounds the Biscuits used to be, Conspirator is in attack mode, with thirty extra men. Contra style. Up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, b, a, select start.
All the live playing has paid off because Unlocked finds the band pulsating at full intensity. Their most fully realized recorded sounds to date, stalwart elements of the Biscuits are there, if that is what you are seeking. Magner remains a maestro at coaxing ungodly tricky and weirdly gorgeous melodies from his vast array of synths and computers and Brownstein’s trademark driving dub bass lines have added electro bulk. However, Conspirator is not an improvisational band like the Biscuits, but rather a tightly wound outfit seeking unswerving yet interlocking dance grooves that incorporate a genre-bending mash-up of the ever-evolving modern dance world.
The album showcases some of the vast arsenal of material the band has recently debuted with tracks like “So Much More” and “S & M” fusing dubstep breaks with searing guitar fireworks from Michetti. He and Magner team up to create a ferocious tidal wave of crescendos with Michetti’s solo at the top of “S & M” skyrocketing into the stratosphere. “Velvet Red > “Feed the Wolf “> “Velvet Red” is a near twenty minute sequence of demonic, throbbing bass and drums that Magner anchors with lyric-less chorus lines full of with sharp melodies.
The “Countach” > “Proper Education” > “Gypsy Lane” > “Retrograde”” sequence that completes the set is the peak of Conspirator’s dance floor occupation. On “Countach” the band finds a relentless and sinister groove before they ride Michetti’s intricate fusion playing into a breakdown where you can almost feel the Georgia Theater catch its breath before an explosion into a remixed “Another Brick in the Wall” segment. This is dark, dance music for those that like to go all night.