SOUTH PACIFIC, with MOLASSES, at the Rivoli, May 11. Tickets: $12. Attendance: 250. Rating: NNN
A wall of noise is nothing without a foundation to hold it up. In the past, Toronto space rock trio South Pacific have built up an impressive barrage of white noise, but it's occasionally sounded a tad hollow.
If ballast was what the crew was looking for, they found it at the Rivoli Thursday. The drones and loops remained, but were reinforced by a forceful mix that had Phil Stewart-Bowes' bass booming and found drummer Graeme Fleming flailing away at his kit with surprising abandon.
Considerably less gripping was the seemingly unending set by aptly named Montreal crew Molasses. At least one member of that band is also a player in space rock collective Godspeed You Black Emperor! In fact, all of them might be, but no one would ever know by looking, since the Godspeed clan don't do photos and tend to steer clear of brilliant stage lighting.
Regardless of who was responsible, though, Molasses never really got going at all. With up to seven people onstage, on guitars, violin, cello and upright bass, the group sketched out an eerie ambient racket over some mournful Dust Bowl singing.
For all their spooky atmosphere, with a ghostly harmonica fluttering in out of nowhere and scraped strings creating an unearthly moan, Molasses's lethargic soundscapes had none of the cohesion or sensitivity necessary to pull the experiments off.
For three songs, it was interesting. At 50 minutes, it verged on torture.