“Get your headphones,” Kutner advises. Other Worlds is a wild ride.
Other Worlds press release
It’s also a great advance over Android Trio’s powerful but recorded-in-a-hot-moment debut, Road Songs. Whereas the first record is essentially a performance document, Other Worlds is
a fully fleshed-out compositional statement, marked by intricate
production strategies and an assortment of extraordinary guests.
“Because we weren’t limited by studio costs and all that, we just went
hog-wild on overdubs,” the guitarist explains. “So we were able to make
an album to a level of excess that’s more like the things we grew up
listening to. Kind of like Gentle Giant, or Genesis: this huge sound.”
If you go looking for influences, others will quickly surface. Progressive rock is certainly here: Other Worlds stands comparison to King Crimson’s masterpiece of the genre, Red, and Klerks is one of a handful of electric bassists who can rival Yes mainstay Chris Squire’s
singular blend of grandiosity and fierce aggression. In their
deployment of odd time signatures and memorable melodies, many of the
new record’s tunes owe a debt to the Bill Bruford/Dave Stewart/Allan Holdsworth school, while traces of American fusion can also be detected.
But, as Kutner points out, “we all love video-game music,” along with
American minimalism, the hyper- technical electric jazz currently
coming out of New York City, math rock, and the Ghanaian drumming that
all three studied during their overlapping years at CalArts. (In fact, Other Worlds kicks off with one of those beats, before guest Jonathan Sindelman’s keyboards lead “Anger Dance” off in another direction altogether.
Zappa’s influence is most apparent in the new record’s “Serial Tune”,
which opens with a very Zappa- esque trumpet fanfare and draws on the
late guitarist’s interest in putting early-20th-century compositional
strategies into more accessible frameworks. Beefheart, in turn, comes
to the fore on “Secular Athletes”, an appropriately muscular take on
the brittle, bent blues abstractions of Van Vliet’s landmark Trout Mask Replica.
sounds like anything other than Android Trio music—but there is another
historical link in the presence of co-producer, keyboardist, and
guitarist Mike Keneally, who was Zappa’s “stunt soloist” during the late 1980s, as well as a great composer and songwriter in his own right.
“I knew Mike, because we’d premiered one of his orchestral pieces in
L.A. in 2011, and I’ve been in close with him ever since,” Kutner says.
“And I figured that if there was anybody who would get all of the
different references—the reference points for what we’re trying to
do—and kick us in the ass to make sure that we were tighter in doing
it, it would be Mike.
“He can play,
sure, but he’s going to get subtle stuff in a way that a lot of other
people wouldn’t get.” he continues. “And that’s the very cool thing
about Mike: even though he’s twice our age, he’s just on it. He’s professional and he’s enthusiastic about things in the exact same way.”
With Keneally on board as musical guest, band counselor, technical
supervisor, and ultimate aesthetic arbiter, Android Trio has made the
album they really wanted to make—and Kutner stresses that Other Worlds is an album, in the best and most old-school possible way.
“All of us really love albums as much as we love performing,” he
explains. “So we wanted to make this record something that’s fleshed
out, in the way of the classic albums of the ’60s and ’70s: full of
weird production stuff, and arrangements that might not necessarily
translate to or even be possible in a live setting. We’re not going to
be selling a million copies of this, so let’s just go for it and work
with what we’ve got,” he adds. “We can’t be in the same room together,
but we’re not limited by an engineer’s costs, or limited time for
overdubs, or physical gear, so let’s just see what happens.
“That was really the focus: our love of sound—and it was probably the most fun album I’ve ever been a part of!”