Thinguma*jigSaw at Musica

Thinguma*jigSaw is a band from Norway whose music is a bit like the latter part of it’s name – a puzzle. There are elements of classical flute, lament-ridden traditional Celtic music, and bluegrass, jazz, and folk. There’s a deeper meaning to the band’s name as well: Little Myth Epiphanymph (aka Martha Redivivus) plays the saw, hence the capitalized “Saw” at the end of the word. She also plays the flute and melodica. The only other member of Thinguma*jigSaw is “The Severed Headmaster” (aka Seth Horatio Buncombe), who plays the banjo and sings.

The duo’s music is dreamlike and, in my opinion, the epitome of phantasmagorical. I find their strange sound extremely hypnotic, and it could easily belong to the soundtrack of a movie about otherworldly creatures. Listening to Thinguma*jigSaw makes me imagine a scene where sprites are descending upon a forest… The saw contributes a great deal of eeriness to the music and, combined with sparse banjo, conjures mystic imagery in the listeners mind. The band is one of the most interesting and fascinating that I’ve ever come across, and Seth and Martha are very much in character as their alter egos when they perform. I actually just recently discovered the band through Curtis Eller, who played a triple bill with them and Robin Aigner at Banjo Jim’s on the 14th. I went to Thinguma*jigSaw’s MySpace page to check out their music, fell in love, and discovered that they were playing at Musica, a music store in Hudson, NY, on the 17th.

The lights were turned completely off at the show, and there was a semicircle of candles set up, making it feel as though we, the audience, were surrounding a campfire while listening to the ghostly, ghoulish tales that are Thinguma*jigSaw’s songs. I wouldn’t call it a concert because, although they play music, what Thinguma*jigSaw does is more like performance art. In between singing, Seth also recited some verses as poetry; an interesting twist which suited the band well. Everyone at the show crowded around the musicians, some on chairs, some on the floor, as it got darker and darker outside. I can only imagine what someone might have thought had they walked in — Thinguma*jigSaw mid-song, all of us sitting in a circle, the light from thirty candles reflected in our eyes as we sat entranced by banjo, flute, and Seth’s wailing, as the band played song after song about death and dying (not to mention, um, necrophilia…). If someone had happened to walk in on the event, their immediate thought would probably have been that we were engaged in a seance, or perhaps some sort of satanic ritual… But they would have (eventually) discovered that, nope, it wasn’t some ritual, just Thinguma*jigSaw. Their second to last song, “Voice Of The People,” was my favorite of the evening. It was a really awesome folky grunge/punk song (yes, on banjo and flute) which was more up-tempo than the songs the band had played up until that point. I do like their slower stuff, but the last two songs were great because you got to see what a good banjoist Seth really is, and you need some rousing songs thrown into the mix. They closed the night with a cover of Daniel Johnston’s “Spirit World Rising.” As Seth – I mean The Severed Headmaster – said, “That will conclude our symposium for tonight.” Thinguma*jigsaw is folk music at it’s darkest and most bizzare, people. It was a weird, but magical, night.

*Due to the lights being turned off, it was pretty dark. Here are a few videos all the same:

Camp Blood Then And Now

We’re All Doomed

I Love The Dead

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