Mirah and Spectratone International

Pub date September 3, 2008
SectionMusicSectionMusic Features

PREVIEW "O dear Venus, I meant no impiety!" Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn — better known simply as Mirah — is a woman of many talents, having put out oodles of solo releases as a stalwart in the Portland, Ore.-Olympia, Wash., DIY-rock nexus and collaborated with friends such as the Microphones’ Phil Elvrum. Her latest project, Spectratone International, makes its final run through California this week, staging multimedia performances of Share This Place: Stories and Observations (K), accompanied by a dozen stop-animation videos by Britta Johnson and buoyed by strings and percussion.

The project came to pass when the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art commissioned Black Cat Orchestra’s Kyle Hanson and Lori Goldston (who famously played cello with an Unplugged Nirvana) to make a bugged-out song cycle with Mirah. Inspired by 19th-century French naturalist J. Henri Fabre’s writings and Karel Capek’s Insect Play, among other sources, the final series is convulsively beautiful, compulsively listenable — and a genuinely unusual and dramatic way to think about those winged strangers we tend to swat away. Intimately recorded by Steve Fisk and Elvrum, Mirah croons ever-so-sweetly about the bright-bellied fireflies of "Luminescence" — "Now I have a belly full of bright light … observe how my lantern did kindle the prize," she breathes — or from the viewpoint of a brand new baby bug in "Emergence of the Primary Larva." This night light is a bright light.

MIRAH AND SPECTRATONE INTERNATIONAL With Matt Sheehy. Mon/8, 7:30 p.m., $15. Swedish American Music Hall, 2174 Market, SF. (415) 861-5016, www.cafedunord.com