jueves, 16 de abril de 2009


Dendritis – April 16, 2007

The first time I saw a Dendritis show was also the first time they played, July 31st of last year in La Castorera. The enormous, wood-paneled antique ballroom was full, and the duo set up on the floor, wrapped in the audience’s semicircle by chairs, sofas and mattresses. They were nervous, but charming in an anxious kind of way, and the few false starts or small, skittish mistakes that they made were quickly forgiven by a supremely empathetic crowd whose raucous applause between songs broke the otherwise brilliant silence. Repeated calls for an encore were rebuked, as the band had only 7 songs, and they had already played them all.

Their balanced and reduced way of playing makes it hard not to like Dendritis. Made up of Julio Nusdeo (guitar, vocals), and Leila G. Barthe (cello), the band is loose and jangly in their subtleness and more interested in exploring “moods and sounds” than composing pop music, says Barthes.

Nusdeo and Barthes met at college while they were both studying journalism. Nusdeo had played in various rock bands, but Barthe’s experience within groups was limited; she would explore the possibilities of writing and performing while doing it. “I wanted to play the cello, but not in a traditional way, and Julio wanted to do something more acoustic,” explains Barthe.

This unique perspective is part of what gives Dendritis their charm: not having solid backgrounds in folk and the like (although Nusdeo has a self-confessed love of Atahualpa Yupanqui’s early recordings) and openly shunning mainstream Argentine acts, the band’s template for both songwriting and performance is something seldom seen in these parts. They assemble a bricolage of ephemeral ideas and subtly weave them together with minimalist, airy instrumentation.

The vacuous “Nada” is one of their best-realized songs to date. Recorded with one microphone on a 4-track, the song opens with a lone, bleak shaker, followed by a single string on the guitar which is then doubled by the cello, oscillating between the root note and the fifth at painfully slow intervals. Nusdeo’s half-sung, sometimes unintelligible lyrics creep in at a distance, fade out, and come back again. The song progresses, a slide enters that is so heavy on the backbeat that it scarcely keeps up with the cello’s grumbling drone. And it ends almost unexpectedly, much as it started, like a half-formed idea that is all the better for being left unfinished.

Dendritis will be performing without amplification tonight in una.casa, an art gallery in San Telmo. Playing like this “you don't have to worry about amps, a P.A system and all that stuff,” explains Nusdeo. “And it's fascinating to create an atmosphere using that intensity.”


with SpringLizard, (The) Corporate Media
Thursday April 16th
una.casa Humberto 1º 561 in San Telmo
9pm. Free


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