Local band Disappearing Ink will perform an album release show at next Tuesday, Sept. 26, at 2640 Space in Charles Village to commemorate their newest album, “The Charm of Abstraction.”
Disappearing Ink’s show will include an intriguing collaboration with a string quartet composed of talented Peabody students and award-winning local journalist and author Lawrence Lanahan, the band’s leader.
Much like their collaborations, Disappearing Ink’s band name serves as a fitting reflection of their diverse and eclectic style.
“The idea of disappearing ink is that there might be different players and there might be a different sound over time,” said Lanahan, the band’s sole original member. “The core of it — I use a lot of Jazz harmony — is a mix of college rock with Jazz harmony, and we improvise.”
Lanahan spent five years producing for Baltimore’s NPR station WYPR. While there, he won a duPont Award for “The Lines Between Us,” a year-long multimedia series about inequality, and authored a book under the same title about race relations in Baltimore.
Lanahan’s inspiration for Disappearing Ink’s latest release lies in his own penchant for experimentation: “I had been writing, and I had gotten a Midi keyboard/workstation and had been learning piano, so I was just testing out and messing with it,” he said. “I liked what I was writing, so I just thought, gosh, if I totally abandon my primary instrument, the guitar, what will happen?”
At the heart of Disappearing Ink’s upcoming show, and the broader music scene it inhabits, is a deep commitment to improvisation, “[The new album] is all electronic and sounds unlike any of the other ones. The new sounds, there’s more improvisation,” said Lanahan. “I moved here from DC, which has an amazing institutional culture…You can go to the Phillips, you can go to the Smithsonian, you can go to the National Orchestra, and we have stuff like that here in Baltimore, but everything just feels less constrained. And much like when we play, Dave and Mike are going to improvise, like completely free improvisation.”
Although they embrace an improvisational music style, the band’s members draw upon their knowledge of music theory and jazz to inform their musical contributions with intention. The result is a show consisting of unselfconscious playing and socializing marked by a sound that is organic and true to its members.
For the band, the night promises a series of exciting firsts. Not only will they perform alongside a string quartet for the very first time, but they will also introduce their new rhythm section featuring bassist Dan Kutcher and drummer Adam Koontz, adding an extra layer of anticipation to the evening.
After more than 15 years in the Baltimore music scene, Lanahan is finding a way to contribute new, refreshing art to a scene that has seen dramatic changes over the years.
“When I was starting to write music, my only influences were, like, the CDs and cassettes I had. And with the music being made now, people have so many more influences. Music is so much harder to describe. But it’s like music just seems less local to me these days because it’s so digital, because people are at home more.”
Lanahan’s long-time friends and fellow musicians, arboretum guitarist Dave Heumann and drummer Mike Kuhl, will also perform an improvisation duo that evening. Additionally, former Disappearing Ink drummer Bob Wagner will project selections from his film collection of 16mm shorts, which will be accompanied by a musical performance.
“It just hopefully will feel like a real Baltimore… I’d say party, but I don’t expect it to be wild. Just a real Baltimore hang, right? Yeah, a real Baltimore hang.”
Doors open at 7 p.m. for Disappearing Ink’s show Tuesday, and tickets are $10 to $20 on a sliding scale.