Hartwick College's Student Newspaper

The View From Oyaron Hill

The Brave Cosmonauts Performing at Thrifty Operation in Oneonta on Thursday night. Band members, left to right: Rich Barlow, Eric Bankes, Parker Troischt, Josh Stilson, and Joe Von Stengel.

Big, Beautiful Noise: Oneonta’s own instrumental noise rock group, The Brave Cosmonauts hit the stage for the first time last week.


Charlie Feher Pieker

Pulling back the curtain hung over the doorway at the More Art Space gallery in Oneonta last Thursday night, I was reminded of how much I miss art galleries and underground music scenes (which I do not get enough of while in college).

In the gallery, surrounded by an eclectic selection of formalist sculptures and collage pieces, stood a group of five men armed to the teeth with all manner of instruments and seemingly miles of instrument cable, snaking in, out and through an impressive array of guitar pedals and electronic sound generators. In the back of the room, projected on the back wall, a psychedelic video montage (evocative of the 70’s era Pink Floyd album covers, created by the band’s keyboard player, visual artist, and Hartwick Professor Joe Von Stengel), played on a loop, filling the wall behind the band with epic scenes of lunar landings, space rocket launces and old school video game clips.

I only went to go see The Brave Cosmonauts on a whim, I couldn’t think of anything else I could have been doing (except for doing philosophy homework maybe, but there is always more time for that, right?). Anyway, I figured I could use a little more live music in my life, so I said, “Why the heck not?” As it turns out, I’m glad I went. I mean how often do you come across a five piece improvisational, post-rock, experimental noise music, group? Well I’ll just tell you, not often! Needless to say, I am stoked that I found them and got to listen to them perform on their first time playing publicly.

Listening to them jam feels sort of like riding a rollercoaster of sound. But not like one of those shiny new ones they have at Six Flags. This rollercoaster was loud, violent, a little rickety and at some points, genuinely frightening. Their music takes the listener all across the musical spectrum; from popish indie hooks, to jazzy drumbeats, to dancey techno rhythms, with pulsing bass lines, to howling ambient feedback loops and atonal guitar salvos. Their sound is at once abrasive and soothing. The sharp, ambient soundscape flows around the throbbing drumbeats and through the air, while the dual guitars cut in and out, carried by the cultivated chaos of the bass guitar, keyboard and drum sound, which rose and fell in beautiful, atonal harmony. The huge range of sound kept the audience always on their toes while simultaneously inducing a semi-trance state. In simple terms, it was the least boring Thursday night I have had in months.

Anyway, The Brave Cosmonauts music is available on sound cloud and on Facebook if you want to check them out. That is, if you like being thrashed about by wild musical excursions down intense rabbit holes of sonic experimentation. And even if you don’t enjoy that so much, why not try and catch one of their shows next November when they are playing in Oneonta again? Plus, who knows, maybe you’ll wind up finding the same beauty in the grating chaos of experimental, atonal music I do. And if you do, let me know and we can go see these guys play next time they have a show in town. It will be worth your while, I promise.