One could be amazed by the gifted guitarist’s fingers — were his feet somehow less nimble and quick.
But Columbus native and frequent one-man band Henry Kohen works his electric guitar looper’s floor pedals with such speed and grace that his footwork looks almost as impressive as his fretwork. The combination creates edgy music that is distinctively layered, to say the least.
“I’ve mostly been calling it just experimental music, but it’s really a form of rock,” said the 22-year-old Kohen, speaking from his apartment in the heralded arts community of Austin, Texas.
Vice.com, the national arts and culture website, acknowledged in a 2015 interview that it was unsure whether to call the musician and vocalist “a wunderkind. Or a prodigy. Or a musical virtuoso.”
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You can pick a label that fits best after seeing the 22-year-old artist in a free concert organized by the Columbus Area Arts Council from 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday in the Red Room of the Bartholomew County Public Library, 536 Fifth St. in Columbus. His girlfriend, classically trained and looping violinist Andrea Calderon, whom he labels as “ridiculously talented,” will join him for part of the evening.
On one of his Facebook pages, a nearly one-minute clip of the pair performing an original duet amid subtle disco ball lights could best be described as psychedelic calm — somewhat musically fringe with organ-like influences, but a great sound for unwinding. One friend called it “awesomely beautiful.”
Kohen is known for the unconventional. He took what he calls his “nom de tune” — Mylets — from pluralizing the name of favorite actor James Coburn’s mother.
“I wanted something that would sound like a full band,” Kohen said.
Well, he can do precisely that while making use of a collection of guitar loops, other effects and a drum machine. At his shows, nothing is canned, so all music is live — just not all in “person,” if you will.
“It’s all coming from the same guitar,” he said.
This marks his first performance locally since the 2012 Columbus East High School graduate played events as a teenager. He fell in love with guitar after dad Ian Kohen gave him an instrument as a Christmas gift when he was 9. The first half of the concert is expected to include Kohen’s more recent material from independent releases such as his latest disc “Arizona.”
The second half will be blended material with Calderon, whom he met in Austin. Settling there has proven to be a nice fit — and a welcome respite from Los Angeles, where he originally headed for a year after leaving Indiana University after just one semester.
“It was very expensive — and is a very, very tough city,” he said.
To make ends meet, he worked for a time as a courier, delivering packages to celebrities such as noted record producer Quincy Jones, whose house was protected by another house in front where mail is left. It would have mattered little had Jones heard Kohen’s riffs, the guitarist figures.
“I don’t think he would have been a big fan of my music, even if I am a big fan of his,” said Kohen with a laugh.
Many of his followers and fans tend to be other musicians amazed by the complexity and difficulty factor of his tunes.
“They seem to be really aware of the technical skill required for all of the looping stuff,” he said. “So there seems to be much more of an acknowledgement of that than the songs themselves. But as long as any aspect is appreciated, then I’m happy.”
What: Concert with looping rock electric guitarist Henry Kohen, a Columbus native who goes by the stage name of Mylets, and looping violinist Andrea Calderon. Kohen, son of Ian and Mary Kohen, is now of Austin, Texas.
When: 7 to 8 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Red Room of the Bartholomew County Public Library, 536 Fifth St. in Columbus. Because the library itself will be closed, attendees are advised to use the stairs on the east side of the library building (closest to the Inn at Irwin Gardens).
Organizer: Columbus Area Arts Council.