avant garde

Golden Hornet: “Army Ants”

Bugs…they’re super weird! They’re everywhere, they’re ancient, their appearance is alien and for every beautiful-looking specimen there’s an equal and opposite that makes us feel icky. And if there’s anyone up to the massive task of adapting…bugs to an aural experience, it’s Golden Hornet, and not just because they have a bug in their name.

No, this Austin-based string-heavy endeavor spearheaded by Artistic Director Graham Reynolds has never really been bound by the rules of conventional composition; instead Golden Hornet stings with unbridled variety and adventurous arrangements, no matter what genres they’re crossbreeding with. And the latest from Golden Hornet finds Reynolds uniting with ex-Kronos Quartet cellist Jeffrey Zeigler and renowned percussionist Susie Ibarra to create INSECTUM, a nine-song collection as eclectic as the specimens they interpret.

INSECTUM is avant-garde down to a microscopic level, and far from the most accessible thing you’ll hear all year. So if you’ve been bit by the bizarre music bug, support our classical-curating colleagues and march on over to the Draylen Mason Music Studio 7PM this Thursday for KMFA’s Offbeat series. We guarantee it’ll be a life changing concert, and not in a nightmarish Kafka-esque way. Just crank up the volume, zone out, and lose your mind to INSECTUM‘s penultimate offering “Army Ants” and you’ll hear exactly what we mean.

Beekeeper Spaceman: “Locusts and Honey”

We’re so over the moon from yesterday’s Lunar Gold premiere that we’re not ready to descend quite yet. So before touching down to the terrestrial for the weekend, let’s heed a far out beacon from Dallas duo Beekeeper Spaceman.

The skeleton crew consists of guitarist-singer-songwriter Greg Brownderville and producer/multi-instrumentalist Spencer Kenney, who named themselves after their multi-media narrative Fire Bones‘ second chapter. Thanks to a consistently mellow pairing of indie rocket science and soundtrack-apt cinematic flourishes, Beekeeper Spaceman’s not only made contact with Leon Bridges, Black Pumas, Shakey Graves, and Erykah Badu…they’ve supported all of the above. Beginning in late June, Beekeeper Spaceman began harvesting their honeycombs and sharing the gooey, acoustic-driven gold on streaming, one single per month, all amassing towards a bustling hive and hyperdrive of an eponymous debut album.

Well now that we’re one week into September, we almost dropped a distress signal, yet Beekeeper Spaceman’s kept the pace up with yet another sample, one that really sinks the stinger in. A sticky, sickly sweet middle ground somewhere between a plague and a blessing, a sweeping swarm and a viscous spoonful, and whatever the listening equivalent of a spectacle is, “Locusts and Honey” starts off with an innocuous flutter before blasting out harmony-and-reverb-lacquered soft rock pheromones. Just goes to show that while Houston is our city most closely associated with space exploration, we’ve seen more than enough representation of aural astronauts across Texas to make the interlacing of space aesthetics and sonic constellations an official state trait.

RLTVS: “New Orleans”

Here’s the biggest understatement you’ll read today: creativity is an incredible human asset. We reach into the aether and pull out something that previously didn’t exist. But in the eyes of consumers and curators alike, that’s only half the battle. For them, bringing the abstract into fruition as a tangible, easily-accessible document is what separates the thinkers from the makers, the hypotheticals versus the heard treefalls. At the end of that discourse, though, we all know that you simply can’t rush greatness. Which brings us to Bill Mullarky.

For the past half decade Mullarky’s tinkered around town with a few different versions of his full band project RLTVS (pronounced “relatives”). Yet in light of an ample track record of live shows, RLTVS hasn’t ever put anything “on wax”. Until now. After years of careful retooling, RLTVS released their debut studio single “New Orleans” at the start of August. Just like the pidgin melting pot to which it pays tribute, “New Orleans” boils spices of dance, folk, funk, electronic, and avant-garde together into an intricately affectionate piece of correspondence from the “Live Music Capital” straight to “The Paris of the South”.

Alabaster DePlume: “Now (Stars Are Lit)”

The term ‘avant-garde’ tends to get thrown around egregiously in the world of music, especially by up-and-coming acts who have yet to realize that their sound falls within more recognizable genres. So when an artist authentically encapsulates ‘avant-garde’ in a way that’s not just ‘weird for the sake of weird’, it can be pretty refreshing. To that point, saxophonist-poet Alabaster DePlume (the nom de plume of London’s Gus Fairbairn) continues to challenge the conventions of contemporary music in a way that’s astonishingly accessible.

Going back to his 2012 debut Copernicus – The Good Book of No, Alabaster DePlume’s carved out a sound that complements his own complex perspectives and used songwriting as nourishment to help himself (and others) get over whatever life throws at them. That tradition of healing and reckoning continues on the nineteen-piece epic GOLD – Go Forward in the Courage of Your Love, ADP’s upcoming seventh full-length that drops this Friday. Mapped out well before a single note was recorded, GOLD offers an experience that flows together thanks to Fairbairn’s poetic, omnipresent narration. Six of the nineteen tracks are already out, and are joined today by GOLD‘s final single, “Now (Stars Are Lit)”, a haunting instrumental that eerily illuminates vocals, sax, strings, and light percussion for one of DePlume’s most mesmerizing compositions to date.

Trippers & Askers: “Keeping Watch”

For thirteen years, Durham, North Carolina multi-instrumentalist Jay Hammond has rounded out and refined his rolodex of talented collaborators. Under the project title Trippers & Askers, the collective specializes in spacious, avant-garde arrangements, philosophical meditations in place of traditional lyrics, and psychedelic flourishes that beckon to be revisited.

Next Friday Trippers & Askers guides you through a reflection on the identity of “American music” with the LP,¬†Acorn. Rest assured, Acorn is best experienced in its entirety, but you can crack into it early with some tasteful T&A on “Keeping Watch”!