Jimmy Chamberlin Complex
March 19, 2005
Drummer Jimmy Chamberlin repeated swift head shakes between songs. It seemed he was trying to stay loose and in the groove of the set. Chamberlin wore rock climbing shoes, lycra pants and a black muscle shirt that accentuated his large arms. Chamberlin became one of the most popular rock drummers of the '90's with The Smashing Pumpkins because of his finesse, hand speed, and simple upper body strength. Cymbals cringed.
After The Pumpkins disbanded and he served a short tour in Zwan, Chamberlin formed his own group in 2004 with co-songwriter/bassist/vocalist Billy Mohler. They eventually found pianist Adam Benjamin and guitarist Sean Woolstenhulme.
With his prog rock accents and beats, Chamberlin naturally drew attention to his playing at Eternal for a SXSW showcase Saturday night. Though watching Chamberlin's blend of speed and nuance was similar to watching a drum clinic, the band was the thing. The music was the thing.
The Complex played accomplished space rock with pauses, builds, and touches of metal. Some parts were cinematic, stalking, moody, and aggressive. Others were full of lush, dreamy, and lingering tones. Some fusion excursions sounded like Chick Corea. Whether light or dark, the music didn't go long without distortion or fuzzed layers. Layer on layer to get lost in and then get taken out of with a straight beat.
On "Cranes of Prey," nasty, rolling grooves with dramatic tom-tom punctuations and guitar yelps were broken up by Chamberlin's signature, furious snare rolls and crackling rimshots.