Aurora Nealand / Steve Marquette / Anton Hatwich / Paul Thibodeaux – Kobra Quartet

9.27.19 by Ryan Masteller

What came first, the cobra or the mongoose? This chicken-and-egg story has a weird ending, one that isn’t really an ending per se, but more like a continuous continuation along the continuum of an undulating reptilian pattern that hypnotizes throughout eternity. The hypnosis has come first from the depths of space and time and birthed the cobra. The mongoose was the afterthought.

I’m going to have to write everybody’s name here, aren’t I? OK, here goes: Aurora Nealand performs on accordion, alto saxophone, voice, objects; Steve Marquette plays electric and acoustic guitar; Anton Hatwich is our ever-steady bassist; and Paul Thibodeaux beats the skins, relentlessly. Together they make up the “Kobra Quartet,” and yes, they are the hypnotizing entity roiling through your mind’s eye as their dramatic interplay breathes like reptile skin. Do reptiles breathe through their skin? Surely some do.

“New Omens Pt. I” finds the quartet exploring the ambient space at first, the instruments setting a mood as everyone glances around and decides what the target of their spellcasting will be. They’ve settled on me. Fine. That’s what I’m here for. Then they dart in and out, like the forked tongue of some creature – badger, maybe? – contemplating a strike right at my brain. Then “New Omens Pt. II” gets heavy on the guitar and voice, but it still creeps around as if it’s slithering through the underbrush, finding a groove of a different stripe that still enthralls the vict … er, listener. “Telly Attire,” while half the length of the “New Omens,” finds a blues riff that Sir Hiss from Disney’s “Robin Hood” would surely employ to mesmerize the tyrannical and infantile Prince John. Or me. Or whoever.

Point is, the cobra, or the kobra, is king here on “Kobra Quartet,” a cold-blooded monarch with mischief on its mind. And that’s OK when you’re the object of the “Kobra’s” pursuit, its prey. What’ll it do to you when it catches you, when it decides that the time is right to strike? Probably just hit a dissonant chord on a downbeat before moving on to the next thing on its mind.

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