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Standout Track: No. 5, “This Are Syntax,” a vocal-free fusion of Wagner and prog. After a sampled breakbeat jump-starts the track, Kevin Hilliard’s metal guitar does battle with Pat Taylor’s classical piano for melodic control. At 1:12, the fireworks begin, as the two state a melancholy leifmotif over drummer Ross Hurt’s dirgy beat. The band picks up and tosses aside theme after theme before Hilliard explodes into some anthemic, Tony Iommi-worthy guitar histrionics. Only Taylor’s mournful piano remains to pick up the pieces.
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Musical Motivation: “We wanted to combine Frodus—something I grew up on—with classical influences,” says Hilliard, name-checking the local spaz-rock legends. Hilliard and Taylor went to Georgetown Prep and, after two years of struggling with electronic timekeepers, added Hurt on drums in 2006. Still, without vocals, songs like “This Are Syntax” can require explanation. “I just like the idea of saying a sentence with the word ‘syntax’ in it with incorrect syntax,” Hilliard says.
Vox Populi: Onstage, Caverns occasionally enlists low-budget visuals. A Rube Goldberg-esque lighting contraption is “jerry-rigged with extension cords and stuff from Guitar Center,” says Hilliard, 26. “We have [an accomplice] stand onstage—we want people to think he is playing a weird instrument.” Caverns borrows from Bartelby the Scrivener’s playbook when it comes to singing—it would prefer not to. “We always hear, ‘Oh, you guys are really good—ever think about getting a singer?” Hilliard says. “But none of us is a natural singer.…Pat’s right hand is our singer.”
Caverns plays the Black Cat on Friday, June 13.