An outsider’s version of a jam band, the group mssv puts three veterans’ influences into their instrumental grooves: you might hear wigged-out guitar noise, catchy surf licks, covers of David Lynch soundtrack tunes or the Stooges, all held down by legendary underground punk bassist Mike Watt.
The top layer of sound comes courtesy of Mike Baggetta, who played with unconventional artists like guitarist David Torn and others on the more experimental side of things. His particular style means this trio is recommended for those who enjoy the sections of Wilco sets where guitarist Nels Cline does his thing. Fans of Watt need hear no more. His group, the Minutemen, came out of nowhere in the 1980s with a homemade conglomeration of punk, funk, country and jazz influences that still feels startling, like you’ve come across a monumental backyard sculpture made by outsider artists. Drummer Stephen Hodges played on Tom Waits’ 1980s Island albums — the ones stocked with rhythms from across time and genres, so he’s a veteran at playing grooves, including those that are slightly off-beat.
The group has recorded a full-length, “Main Steam Stop Valve,” released in October 2020, along with a series of EPs. The music, almost all instrumental, is like a jam album for post-punk fans or those who are suspicious of the genre. Watt and Hodges keep the rhythms flowing but never burst into lengthy extravagant solos themselves. Mellower songs (and they do work as songs) like “If Anybody Else Could Help” drift atop ambient effects.
One two-song EP, “Mssv Meets Nels Cline” features the Wilco player himself, and he fits in seamlessly, if that gives you an idea of their sound. Like Cline, Baggetta has a large and expensive array of effects pedals that he knows how to use in tandem with heavy doses of whammy bar, albeit in a tasteful way. He can stir up blasts of guitar texture, but you’ll come back later because of his way with a melody — he clearly loves surf guitar as much as the further out fretwork.
That balance of out-there experiments with rock textures, plus Watt and Hodges’ boots-on-the-floor rhythm, should make for a memorable set when they play at the ZACC Show Room.