Orion Tango – The Apple of No
1k recordings is happy to announce the new album from Orion Tango: The Apple of No.
TIM MOTZER – guitars, electronics
BARRY MEEHAN – bass, electronics
JEREMY CARLSTEDT – drums
“Experimental rock group Orion Tango is about to release their second CD, “The Apple of No” (1K Recordings, 2017). Their first CD Release event will be at Kung Fu Necktie in Philadelphia on June 6th.
Orion Tango is the trio of guitarist Tim Motzer and bassist Barry Meehan, both of Philadelphia, and drummer Jeremy Carlstedt of New York City. The band, which formed in 2015, performs completely improvised progressive music. In order for musicians to be able to walk on stage and have no idea what’s going to happen and have it work, they need to have a natural connection to one another, which Motzer, Meehan and Carlstedt clearly have.
I interviewed the very busy Tim Motzer by phone from his home in Philadelphia, just after returning from New Orleans where he did a concert with King Britt that honored Sister Gertrude Morgan, and just before leaving for Europe to perform with Bandit65. He discussed the concept of Orion Tango and how the Key Studio Sessions came to fruition.
Motzer explained that Carlstedt suggested forming an actual band with him and Meehan “because every time we would play in some situation, it would be just amazing. We decided to make an official band and start playing shows, which is the impetus of putting out this music. This music comes from either live recordings in the studio or live recordings at concerts. We’re improvising all the time, and that’s how the music is made. We have this chemistry that when we play together, something always happens that’s, from our point of view, pretty remarkable.”
Motzer elaborated: “Of course improvisation is a part of every composer’s world, every band’s world. There’s always some aspect of improvisation, but it’s usually over a structure, or a song, or a form. We go on stage not having anything prepared. We find the architecture or the forms, and the melodies, and the chord progressions, and everything organically happens.
1 Disintegration of Turbulent Surfaces/The Apple of No
2 To My Stars, Only Dust
3 Between Time
4 From Black to Light
“I think what we’re trying to do is to create music in the moment. We’re not just trying to noodle, or whatever you will. We’re really actively trying to do instant composition, and I think we go in with the idea that we’re creating a piece of music. It’s not just doing a lot of solos… I think what’s beautiful about that is the searching into the unknown and finding new bits of music, and how organically it just happens. You’re not really boxed into any particular form, so it keeps the music really exciting and the music can continue to move forward in different ways and places.”
Some people might be skeptical about how completely improvised music can actually sound musical and be as interesting to the audience as it is to the artists. Any skeptics will erase all doubt when they listen to “The Apple of No,” which is from the band’s Key Studio Session at WXPN last year. Typically for a Key Studio session a band will go in and record for about an hour and the segment that airs is an edited version of about 20 to 30 minutes. In this case, Key Editor and Key Studio Sessions curator John Vettese dedicated his entire one hour show to Orion Tango.
“I’ve always tremendously admired (Motzer) as a guitarist — his technique as well as his use of space and tone,” said Vettese in an email interview. “Tim shared an early copy of Orion Tango’s last album, and I was very impressed, so when he asked me about recording a Key Studio Session, it was a no-brainer. What I didn’t expect was exactly how expansive the trio would be as live performers — while the songs on the record seemed to average about 8 or 9 minutes, that was the shortest song from their performance. It felt criminal to truncate (their) performance to a single song or a portion of a song, so I decided to just turn over the whole hour to their set.”
The success of the recording session was as much of a surprise to the band as it was to Vettese. When the band members listened back to the recording they decided to release it as their second album.
Motzer said “sometimes what we’ll do with live stuff is we’ll ‘frame’ it. We’ll put a picture frame around certain sections, like this starts here at 1 minute and goes until 12 minutes and 30 seconds, and that’s the tune. With the WXPN concert, we decided that it was in fact complete as it went down, so we’re releasing it just like that.”
The recording is exactly as it was recorded live, with no edits or overdubs. It was remixed “make everything sound as good as it can,” said Motzer, and mastered, which is “just making sure that all the songs and all the music sounds dynamic and is basically loud enough that if it plays next to another tune by some other band, that it can still hang, essentially.”
The performance at Kung Fu Necktie will celebrate the release of “The Apple of No,” but once again the band’s performance will be completely improvised.” Fern Brodkin, The Daily Local, Arts & Entertainment, Philadelphia
photo: Avraham Bank