Keys to the cuffs


Photo By David Robert

Manacle plays Nov. 23 at the Loose Moose at 9 p.m. Tickets $5. For more info, visit

What kind of name is “Manacle” anyhow?

“We wanted to incorporate man and tentacle,” says the band’s bassist, John Benson. Well, who wouldn’t? They ascribe this to their desire to use “tentacle imagery” in their art.

“And manacles are handcuffs, of course, so there’s different ways to distort the word,” adds drummer Chris Jimenez.

Rounding out the trio is guitarist Louis Gezelin. All are 25 years old, and all have known each other since middle and high school.

Manacle has existed for almost a year, but is merely the latest manifestation to emerge from the “incestuous relationships” of local indie label, Humaniterrorist, according to Jimenez. At least two of the three members have played in bands together, in some incarnation, since Jimenez and Gezelin’s pre-Fall Out Boy, Simpsons-character-named band, Lionel Hutz, nearly 10 years ago. Nowadays, the trio plays instrumental weird-rock. That is to say, their songs have no vocals and the music is weird; weird meaning progressive/experimental math/noise rock. The neck-jerking time changes and confusing melodic (non)structures are reminiscent of such influences as fellow instrumental weird-rockers Tera Melos and Hella.

“It [the music] has crazy, odd time changes pretty consistently,” says Gezelin.

“It’s pretty much all over the place,” says Jimenez.

John Benson makes no attempt to explain himself.

Manacle has a pretty low-key stage presence. With the exception of the comical size difference between Benson and Gezelin, they don’t offer a whole lot visually. They stand relatively still and emotionless as they rock out. One thing that is a sight to see is Louis Grezelin playing guitar. Have you ever seen one of those people who write your name on a grain of rice? It is with that same painstaking attention to detail that Grezelin plays guitar. He holds the neck literally inches from his face and strikes a dizzying array of notes with all 10 fingers at a frenzied pace. Even if the experimental structures aren’t your style, if you’ve ever struggled through “Puff the Magic Dragon” or “Ode to Joy” on your guitar, you can certainly appreciate what this dude can do with an ax. Benson and Jimenez, meanwhile, habitually warp the brain by completely shifting gears with the rhythms and beats, and the songs are peppered with good old-fashioned thrashing that is meant to make heads bob.

Manacle has just finished recording a 7-inch vinyl record that they expect to release in December, and they’ve managed to line-up a 16-day tour of Southern California in January. After that, they are moving to New York City for the summer of 2008; something about a generous uncle and an internship.

Meantime, they’ll be gigging around Reno with their fellow Humaniterrorists and anyone else who cares to join. If you’re into experimental stuff at all, if you’re into seeing talented guys make crazy sounds with a guitar, do yourself a favor: Don’t settle for YouTube videos. Check out Manacle in person. You don’t have much to lose. Their set is only 16 minutes long.