In the rock world, some artists are considered visionary but are really just lucid; others work to confound in hopes of being interpreted as avant garde. But Arrington de Dionyso operates on another plane, channeling something that's much deeper than, but that can only find expression in, rock 'n' roll.
Like a West-coast Daniel Higgs, or a Sun Ra interested more in the deep secrets of Earth than the expanses of space, de Dionyso represents the side of rock 'n' roll that concerns itself with the spiritual in a wonderfully dangerous way. With the voice of a preacher and danceable beats, his live show with Old Time Relijun -- his band of 15 years -- toes the line between rock concert and cult revival. In another time, he might have been a charismatic or an ascetic; today, he's a bizarre brand of rock star.
Singing in other languages isn't new to de Dionyso: Old Time Relijun once released an album, La Sirena de Pecera, that included translations of its songs in Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. And he's proficient in throat-singing and jaw-harp drones, a musical idiom perhaps foreign to a pop-trained ear.
But the Olympia, Wa.-based musical medicine man's latest project (which visits this weekend for a show presented by frequent CP contributor Manny Theiner) is beyond the pale even of what he's accomplished before. Malaikat Dan Singa is an entire album sung in Bahasa Indonesian. Much of the music isn't so far from what one expects from Old Time Relijun: primal, sparse drumming, repetitive bass grooves, sax squawks. But there's also smooth futuristic synth, polyrhythms and gamelan-style percussion.
Arrington de Dionyso with Dean Cercone and Jonbro. 8 p.m. Sun., May 30. Garfield Artworks, 4931 Penn Ave., Garfield. $7. 412-361-2262 or www.garfieldartworks.com