Silent Scene

The instrumental rock revival with Man or Astro-Man?, the Mermen, Pell Mell, and more

One current instrumental group making music a lot less rooted in the past is Pell Mell. This quartet differs from most of the aforementioned groups in that theirs is a linear, non-blues-based rock not particularly suited to necking or frugging. With chiming guitars and burbly bass parts, Pell Mell is more inclined to echo modern rock (sans, of course, the vocals). If it's retro, their hindsight reaches only as far back as the heyday of "college rock." The pristine, angular melodies of Interstate display this band's knack for precision without scrapping the warmth of spontaneity. Signed to the major label DGC, Pell Mell may be the future of the backward-looking format known as instrumental rock.

To hear many tell it, the instrumental music revival consists largely of a pair of rediscovered oldsters, Esquivel and Martin Denny, and their reformed-rocker champions Combustible Edison. The part-time vocalists and full-time futurists in the latter group should expand the scope of their nonverbal efforts in the fall with their soundtrack to the movie Four Rooms. In the meantime, however, a wide array of groups are striving to have their music recognized in the here and now.

Man or Astro-Man? play Sat, Aug. 5, at Bimbo's in S.F.; call 474-0365.

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