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Some of the greatest things in music have been happening at the edges of the Rock genres. The depth of complexity, instrumental coloring, and overall creative ingenuity rivals, if not surpasses, the level of compositional prowess happening in concert halls today. And with the popularity of bands like the Dirty Projectors or Animal Collective, it’s not surprising that younger generations of composers are turning to the amplified settings of warehouses, parties and rock clubs to work out their musical ideas.
Among the best examples of this new wave is the New York City based Extra Life. Extra Life combines elements of medieval vocal music, aggressive math rock, dark romantic pop and modern classical composition. For years Looker was a core member of noise/chamber group Zs, and has also worked with diverse bands and artists such as Dirty Projectors, John Zorn, Glenn Branca, Period, William Parker, Christian Wolff and the S.E.M. Ensemble. Extra Life also includes various combinations of the following musicians: violinist Caley Monahon-Ward (Snowblink), bassist Tony Gedrich (Stats), drummer Nicholas Podgurski (Yukon), and saxophonist/keyboardist Travis Laplante (Little Women). Extra Life’s debut full-length CD Secular Workswas released in 2008 on Planaria Recordings to wide critical acclaim, topping many Best and/or Strangest of 08 lists.
Two veterans of West Philadelphia’s late, lamented scene (Squi!, Son Bees, King of Prussia, Oskama Bin Skaden), half-brothers Mr. Nathaniel Cops (keys) and Finger Julius Mountain (drums) were first united by a desire to get the fuck out of Man Man after simultaneously discovering (to their great horror) that they’d been playing with them for years.<strong> Whales and Cops began rehearsals at once, cleaving to a vigorous, manly regimen of certain foods and exercises and, significantly, a staunch refusal to hide the light of their Modern music under a bushel of implausible pseudonyms and fake,stupid band names. With the addition of fancy, German-looking multi-instrumentalist and usually one other human, Whales and Cops stand poised at the very brink of the Culture itself, beckoning to you.
Altamira was formed in October 2007, only three months before their first tour of the Midwest. The three members of the band, Nick Millevoi, Ricardo Lagomasino and John DeBlase are all busy in their own right, but when they play together the sum is greater than that of its parts. Combining progressive song structures, brutally intense improvisation, and an amalgam of musical influences, they pull off quite an exciting live.
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