Photo by Shino Omura

Class of 2017: Corbezzolo

You might be inclined to describe Noah Demland and Marie Corbo as the quiet, lone wolves in any social situation. But, there’s a certain alchemical transformation that happens when you combine the powers of two incredibly talented, soulful introverts into one well-lubricated, growling monster known as Corbezzolo.

Excessive social interaction depletes the duo, who prefer “standing in a dark corner, not talking to anyone,” so in a way, it makes perfect sense that creatively , they would have a powerful language all to themselves. The duo, who released their first full length album Midnight in January, is more than the sum of its parts—but understanding those parts is key to appreciating one of Columbus’s rising bands.

Corbo, “the girl who plays guitar 12 hours a day.” In place of cocky bravado; are delicate, almost frail performances, where she’ll disarmingly blush at any overt adulation from applause. Off stage, her recordings are pristine and gorgeous, the vocals and song structure impeccable.

Demland has a similar quiet energy, but is inconspicuously fierce, a counterbalance to Corbo’s fragility. A classically trained percussionist who used to write abstract, experimental pieces for dance performances, his work was subtle and lingering. He’s a fearless animal. He may make a self-deprecating joke or three, but once you scratch the surface it becomes very clear that underneath his calm, placid, shy appearance is a person you definitely do not want to f*ck with.

Together they are powerful. Especially, I should add, if you have any point of reference for how far they’ve come.

A few years ago, Corbo was on on the precipice of quitting music altogether, the strain of performing solo barely making it worth it anymore. She’d tossed around the idea of starting a country band with friend Phil Kim (Connections, Swarming Branch). That fell through due to Kim’s tour demands, but the ensuing search for a drummer landed them Demland, he recalls snarkily remarking, “I want to be in a band that sounds like Kim Deal and Lou Harrison.”

They ultimately played their first show as a duo and discovered their musical chemistry was complete on it’s own. Corbo taps into Demland’s fury as he coaxes her out of her shell and envelops her with the courage to show her feelings. It’s a wonderful combination to watch.

As Corbezzolo shifted from polite country to heavy, visceral pop, Corbo found herself shifting from acoustic guitar to short-scale electric bass.

“I think this is the first instrument that I ever found that I was using more of my feelers. I rarely had the opportunity to actually own the instrument that would make the sound that I want,” she said. The transition from guitar to bass excited her.

“The first time I turned on my amp, I thought, ‘It sounds like a heated oven.’ It was cool to play a power chord on the bass—it kind of sounds like a guitar but it’s got more of a growl.”

“It can make this dark, weird, scary sound,” she said, adding that it’s one she felt very connected to, since “it was exactly how I feel.” Separated from his classical background, Demland also found himself enjoying the freedom of their heavier sound.

“Everyone’s got that dark, gnarly shit in them,” he said. “It gives me a chance to get up and shred into something…I can hit really hard and just come unchained.”

On Midnight, Corbo’s voice feels like steam running through silk. The way she sings certain phrases beg you to keep going back—just to revisit a subtle nuance. That voice is a surprising answer to her own distorted bass melodies and Demland’s tight, animalistic drumming. Corbezzolo’s aesthetic is at once comforting and dissonant, but always emotional. Every song on the record will take you somewhere you didn’t know you wanted to go. The title track is perhaps the most stunning example of what this angelic, wild alchemy is capable of.

You should break out the headphones for this one—so as not to miss a thing. For fans of the heartbreakingly heavy and beautiful.

Corbezzolo performs at Ace Of Cups on Thursday, June 29th.

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