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Volume Turned Low 

by JEFF ECHERT & r & & r & The fishbowl at The Inlander was palpably abuzz with excitement when we first heard.

"Cyrus Fell Down's going to be playing at a bookstore?"

"How did they manage to get the permits for that?"

"Won't it destroy that entire 29th Avenue strip mall?"

Concerns and gossip were bandied about like tennis balls. The police and fire departments were informed, just in case. So were the search and rescue teams -- the Jaws of Life might need to be on standby to dig out those trapped by the aftermath's rubble.

OK, so I'm exaggerating a little bit. But that was fairly close to our first reaction -- a simple Joey Lawrence "Whoa." After speaking to Jason Cross, the booker at 2nd Look Books, however, our expectations were subverted. A slightly fibbing flyer -- by his own admission, Cross let the flyer advertise Cyrus Fell Down because, he says, "Part of me was hoping it would spark some interest, like 'Cyrus in a bookstore? What the hell?'" -- is partially to blame. Calling it a Cyrus show wasn't exactly a lie -- an acoustic show, maybe, but still a show. But it turns out that David Plell, frontman for the group, decided to showcase some of his solo work. So unfortunately, no wholesale destruction of property.

But Plell's solo work is intriguing in its own right. He says, "With my acoustic songs, it's pretty simple -- there are little spasms of intricacy, but it's much easier to get a real dense thought out. I'm writing things that are deeper poetically." Though Cyrus' technicality and complexity may distract the listener from the lyrics, Plell believes deeply in literal poignancy. Writing songs about lovers facing down meteor-induced tsunamis and chipped teeth, Plell remarks, "I really like the idea of writing lyrics that you can follow, like a story, because what I cherish about music is being able to escape, like a book, being able to put myself in the place of whatever's happening." Though his approach may be stripped down, Plell still believes in complication, saying, "One of the things I want to bring to my music is the use of discords -- they're a method of enriching the music with a rough texture." We're glad to hear that aspirations of singer/songwriter-hood have not dulled Plell's penchant for cacophony.

So far, Cross' concert series has seemed to be a great success, with Plell as a highlight. Cross notes, "Cyrus Fell Down is intricate. There's a lot going on, so it's hard for the average listener to pick up on it because it's so loud. But when it's stripped down, you can really get an idea of the musicality."

So, no, they may not be tearing down the walls. But it'd be a shame to lose this unique concert series, with its intimate, near-busking atmosphere. Though I'll admit it would be fun to dance in the debris, with Cyrus Fell Down playing the soundtrack to our imminent demise, Plell may very well mesmerize us all on his own.

David Plell plays at 2nd Look Books, 2829 E. 29th Ave., on Friday, Sept. 26, at 8 pm. Free. Call 535-6464.
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