The Weekly Dig (Boston)
One rule: Play something cool, then do it over and over again. Accidents happen. And often, theres no one to blame. In the case of the Concord Ballet Orchestra Players, though, we can firmly place blame (or heap thanks) on some dude who quit Jeff Breeze’s last band, Meathawk and the Meathawks. “I had booked a show for us, and all of a sudden, we couldn’t do it,” Breeze recalls. “I tried getting out of it, but the guy was like, No! Weve got all the flyers and everythingyou have to play. So, I formed an auxiliary band.”
What might have been a help a brother out emergency instead became a lets do this thing epiphany, as Breeze recognized the looming date as an opportunity to play with everyone hed been itching to. He drafted a crack team of local fringewalkers including Kyle Bittinger of the Shrinking Islands; Ben Macri from the Carlisle Sound; drummer and Vandermark collaborator Curt Newton; and Kris Thompson, theremin maestro of the Lothars.
Also, what might have been disastrous – an unscored collision of guitar, bass, drums, shruti box, theremin, keys, pedals and an Echoplex – has turned into a pretty serious octet. “Its pretty viral, and its very much a collective effort,” says Breeze of the band itself, but its as fitting a description of their music. Figures sprout up and coerce the sounds around them to follow; repetitive phrases gently degrade and embellish themselves in smoky iterations; and, as if through some sort of charitable magic, the wank factor hovers at near-zero.
“Sometimes it works, and sometimes it’s miserable like most improv projects end up being,” Breeze says, with a chuckle. “It’s a matter of having good people who know how to listen to each other.” As willy-nilly as their music can get, theres always something steady to stand on, some trace of composure that makes the orchestra bit feel oddly fittingor maybe I’m just forcing order on their band name. Turns out that was an accident, too.
“Our practice space was the former home of the Concord School of Ballet, so it just sort of happened,” Breeze says. “Originally, Kris was like, ‘Hey, lets call ourselves Wolf-something! Everyone has a wolf band.’ And I was just like, you know, I was in a band called Meathawk and the Meathawks. I dont need to try that animal-band shit again.”
by MICHAEL BRODEUR
Concord Ballet Orchestra Players Flying Together (Froyen Foods/Insect Fields) CD-R – Now here is the business: a large (7-9 members) ensemble from Somerville, Mass that started life as a onetime tribute to my favorite Krautrock band (Faust, of course) and quickly blossomed into a full time concern exploring elements of improvised psych, fusion, and all manner of phased distortion and sending the groove train straight into orbit. The results are modern improvised psych performed with some chops and should appeal to fans of any kind of jazz infused komische space from The Orginasation to ’70s era Miles and well beyond. Very groovy.
I’ve been meaning to write about Concord Ballet Orchestra Players Flying Together (Froyen Foods/Insect Fields) ever since I first heard it at Terrastock 7 in Louisville earlier this year. But sometimes you just try too hard and end up with nothing. This three-track CD-R is well worth your time though as it dips its toes in heavily psychedelicised folk waters with an impressive ease and also adds a very welcome krautrock flavor to the mix which makes the end results sound as much as Faust as No Neck Blues Band. I am not necessarily saying that this is as great yet but they’re definitely showing a lot of promise. Primitive oscillations, repetitive guitar figures and tribal grooves hover over your head like some airplane out of control. The rumor says that there might be a full-length album in the pipeline on a well-established Swedish underground label and I just hope that they have the ability to spread the gospel about what these guys do, because they truly deserve some more attention.
The Concord Ballet Orchestra Players, are heading up the bill. I recently had the pleasure of seeing them at the Tufts Oxfam Cafe. I’m not usually a fan of instrumental music, but they are really cool. I’ll also throw the term experimental at this band, as they certainly are, and my favorite word: psychedelic. Live they swell and lock into heavy, atmospheric rock riffs that get explored for a moment before they move in another direction. A lot of their set is improv, and a lot of what makes them good is that they’ve played together a long time, and are able and bounce off each other without getting all “wanky” about it. And they have a thereminist, which gives me an excuse to post this picture: (shows campaign image of Obama as a Thereminist)
grooved out psych noise fuzz
quick third eye glimpses of time
homespun texture beats
Scene-maker and radio DJ extraordinaire Jeff Breeze’s long-running improvisational space-rock project Concord Ballet Orchestra Players is back with a fifth record, Palindromes. The set, which features Mr. Breeze abetted by a quintet including our former Junkmedia colleague Martin Pavlinic, is officially released June 1, but you can download the thing for free at Bandcamp right here right now. You’re wondering why you need improvisational space-rock in your life. We understand, believe us. But Palindromes is quite engaging, in a non-singles Pink Floyd circa 1966 kind of way. Take, for example, the organ-heavy (and, we’d venture, Richard Wright-indebted) psych-out “Serif Fires,” which we are posting below. The composition meanders, but with a purposeful tunefullness that maps structure and indicates the CBOP cohort has well-developed, collaborative instincts, and/or an ear for the interesting.