To read this email on the web, click here: http://www.cuneiformrecords.com/emails/ua-eurotour-2009.html
U P S I L O N
first-ever appearances outside the USA
Upsilon Acrux (Los Angeles, CA, USA), an instrumental quintet (dual guitars, keyboards, bass and drums), is one of the most creative, original and sonically spellbinding bands on the U.S.A.'s thriving post-punk, avant-garde rock scene. Cuneiform Records has just released Radian Futura, the band's sixth album of explosive, intense and surprisingly beautiful intricate, instrumental rock, which is generating praise and attention for the band in the music press. But in addition to such acclaimed recordings, Upsilon Acrux is reknown for presenting brutally intense live shows. Based on the West Coast, the band is a regular on the circuit of L.A.'s legendary venue, the Smell, where it continues to develop its uncompromising sound. Upsilon Acrux has shared the stage with such acts as The Boredoms, The Ruins, Mission of Burma, the Locust, Don Caballero, Bad Dudes, the Fucking Champs, Dillinger Escape Plan, Cattle Decapitation, Black Heart Procession, Hella, Lightning Bolt, Marnie Stern, Flying Luttenbachers, Orthrelm, Time of Orchids, Experimental Dental School, Truman's Water and Mick Barr. Never seen on stage before outside the USA, the band will tour Europe for the first time ever in September and October 2009. Don't miss this rare opportunity to see one of Upsilon Acrux's legendary live performances in Continental Europe and the UK!!
What the press have said :
"...a stunning example of both virtuosity and clever composition...amazing, and amazingly consistent...."
" Seldom is music so challenging also so easy to listen to."
"...there’s something revitalizing about hearing a band like Upsilon Acrux hitting their stride...."
"There are plenty of bands out there trying hard to play music this technical, but very few succeed to the level that Upsilon Acrux does, and so effortlessly."
Fall 2009 European Tour
The band will have tour stops in the following countries:
Don't miss this rare opportunity to
If you would like to request an INTERVIEW (in-person or via phone / email) with the band while on tour, please contact:
Upsilon Acrux is also available for RADIO INTERVIEWS as well as IN-STUDIO APPEARANCES.
Radian Futura Press Release:
Upsilon Acrux is among the best of the bands (The Flying Luttenbachers, Hella, Orthrelm, Ahleuchatistas) transforming math-rock’s post-punk landscape, reinvigorating modern music's physically powerful, aggressive and speed-driven sound by infusing it with a compositional intensity and technical prowess long associated with various forms of metal (speedcore, technical metal, thrash) and progressive rock. In Upsilon Acrux’s hands, this sonic fusion results in an explosive new music that is both exhilarating and abstract. While the band cites an encyclopedic array of influences - everything from progressive and math rock (Magma, Henry Cow, King Crimson, Magma, Univers Zero, The Muffins, The Ruins, The Flying Luttenbachers, Zappa, Don Caballero); Krautrock (Faust, Neu!, Kraftwerk); metal and death metal (Morbid Angel, Necrophagist, Meshuggah); the energy and spirituality of jazz and free jazz (John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman and The Mahavishnu Orchestra); and more (This Heat, Nels Cline) - its music is not derivative of, nor directly comparable to, any one band - or any pre-established genre. A tapestry of complex and hyperkinetic instrumental sound, Upsilon Acrux’s music is composed of disparate elements, dissonance and unexpected time changes daringly interwoven with, and/or punctuated by, beautiful and accessible melodies. In the words of one of the guitarists/founders, Paul Lai:
Upsilon Acrux formed in 1997. Guitarist Paul Lai recalls that he and another guitarist, Cameron Presley, started the band in Vista, a town in rural California “45 minutes from San Diego but several world’s away,” and “out of a desperate need to play interesting music.” Adding Tom Cutler and drummer Jesse (Klecker) Appelhans to their lineup, they plunged into serious practice and adopted the name Upsilon Acrux - a name without specific meaning, but which the band agrees increasingly “fit” the music. The band played its second live show in November 1997, on Klecker’s 21st birthday.
The band’s recorded debut was auspicious - the 10-minute instrumental “Before The Pirates Came” appeared as the opening track on a compilation of San Diego experimental music called Trummerflora 2, released by Accretions in 1998. Accretions released Upsilon Acrux’s first full-length album, In the Acrux of the Upsilon King, in 1999. The debut CD’s “inexhaustible musical invention” caught the attention of avant music’s most prestigious magazine, The Wire, who praised the music as “free jazz and hardcore fusion dominated by an astonishing kind of Splatter Prog.” Recorded by Lai, Klecker (Appelhans), Presley and Muir Tennerstet on bass, the 74-minute album was a “consistent assault on your regular rock instruments, accompanied by moogs and wacky sax” [Audion]. Upsilon Acrux released its 2nd CD that same year on Win. Titled The Last Pirates of Upsilon and featuring a new bass player, Josh Quon, it contained 70 minutes of dense, tightly woven original compositions that the All Music Guide called “both cerebral and physical at once.” It won the admiration of Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), who proclaimed: “Upsilon Acrux is Amazzzzzzzzing.”
By the time Upsilon Acrux’s 3rd album, Last Train Out, came out on Hactivist in 2001, the now-trio of Lai, Appelhans and Presley had surgically sharpened its technical skills into “stop-on-a-dime tightness” and condensed its knotty compositions into 34 minutes of music “filled with enough ideas to easily flesh out a CD twice that length” [AMG]. Critics hailed Last Train Out as “the group’s most dynamic release to date” [Splendid], and in a 4-star review, AMG noted that the album would “further establish Upsilon Acrux’s complex, spastic, yet robotic style as something distinct from its varied predecessors - King Crimson, Massacre, Don Caballero, Henry Cow…” Splendid also noted that: “UA is no longer a band that sounds like Don Caballero or Ornette Coleman on crack; it has defined its own sub-genre of self-effacing guitar theatrics and unconventional drumming…” A stylistically mature work, Last Train Out marked Upsilon Acrux’s coming-of-age.
Upsilon Acrux’s 4th release, Volucris Avis Dirae-Arum (Epicene/Planaria), featured a radical new lineup with two drummers. Lai and Appelhans had wanted to do a dual-drummer project since seeing King Crimson do one and being disappointed at “the promise unfulfilled.” While Lai boasted that “we outdid King Crimson with our polyrhythms,” Dusted noted that the CD “relies on more than these jaw-dropping pyrotechnics to be successful. …It’s Upsilon Acrux’s songwriting that sets them apart, not flashy instrumentalism or fiery bombast.” “Technically brilliant, rhythmically unbelievable, with just the right amount of melody,” said Disagreement. “…Volucris Avis Dirae-Arum is the album Henry Cow might have recorded, had they been founded in this millennium, and their refusal to improvise plus the not too long running time make this a perfect entry point into modern complex music.”
In 2006, the owner of Cuneiform ran across a video on Youtube of Upsilon performing their latest material and was utterly shellacked by it. Contacting the band, arrangements were made for Cuneiform to release their next album. That CD, Galapagos Momentum, was Upsilon Acrux’s 5th release. In it, the band returned to a “more natural rock-band” lineup with one drummer - Appelhans, two guitarists, Lai and Braden Miller, as well as bass player Eric Kiersnowski. Galapagos Momentum featured 41 minutes of aggressive, intricate, athletic and composed post-punk instrumental rock contained on 10 tracks.
Shortly after the release of Galapagos Momentum, Paul assembled a new version of the band featuring himself and David Moeggenberg on guitars, keyboardist Phil Cobb, bassist Marty Sataman and drummer Chris Meszler and Upsilon went on an extensive tour, traveling and performing all the way across the US to the east coast and back again over a 4 week period. Soon after, they were tapped to open for Mission of Burma at a music festival in Kalamazoo, MI, where they performed for 3,000 people.
Returning home, the band played local shows and festivals and began working on new music, which culminated in the band's sixth album, Radian Futura. Radian Futura is an album of explosive, intense and surprisingly beautiful, intricate, instrumental rock. Simultaneously physical and cerebral, challenging and melodic, Radian Futura is Upsilon Acrux’s most accessible yet sophisticated release to date.
An active touring band, Upsilon Acrux embarked on an extensive touring schedule immediately following Radian Futura's release this summer. They performed a series of local shows in southern California and did an intensive two-week, cross-country tour of the USA. In September and October 2009, the band will tour Europe for the first-time ever, touring for a full month throughout Continental Europe and the UK.
We asked Paul Lai to discuss the making of the album and how Upsilon Acrux operates:
How did you or the band compose this album?
Did anything special influence the band in terms of the compositions or the recording of this album?
It may surprise people that playing on a grid of any kind is stupid to me, and almost completely useless because it's what we've done so much of before and there's so many people who are better at it than me. I'm not doing this music to compete, I do it because I have to. This shit keeps me up, it strains and tugs at me all the time. I've made a personal effort to keep the compositions more conversational. You know how people repeat musical phrases and usually complete them on even bars? Well when we speak to each other in any kind of conversation, the conversation can change on a word, any given word; a phrase can be interrupted and taken in a different direction because that word triggered something. I tried to use that logic in these songs, but not overtly, just knowing that if something felt right to me I would move and go on to the next sentence without completing the previous sentence. Additionally, sometimes the sentence doesn't start with the first phrase, it might start on the 3rd or 4th word because it felt more human to me. That to me was the breakthrough. It opened up phrases in a way that I think makes more human sense but perhaps less musical sense in that phrases don't start and finish where the listener might expect it to. Also Transparent Seas was an unbelievably hard song to write. If our other songs are short stories or long conversations, this was like writing A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu (Marcel Proust). And to keep it sane and make perfect sense at least to me and keep the emotional context without deviating was near impossible. I'm proud as shit of this album.”
Where and how was Radian Futura recorded?
We set everything up in the studio and did live takes and added flourishes as required. We were able to overdub a lot of sounds that I've always wanted but either didn't have the money or the sympathy of my band mates to attempt.
Pete Lyman really helped us out in ways more than any engineer has. We credit him with producing the album because he did in a lot of ways. He kept things open, got great sounds, kept us focused, and made it an easy and fun environment for staying creative. I don't think we've ever been less stressed as a band during the recording process. Plus he helped out tons in processing some sounds and some wacky ideas that I had, some of which we used, some of which he let me see that that they didn't work and to let them go."
What about the artwork?
Do you have any thoughts on the band's 'evolution' over the last dozen years?
For more information, please see:
PROMOTIONAL PHOTOS: (Click on the thumbnail for a High-Res image.)
Digital [High-Resolution / Color] versions of these images are available for download on www.cuneiformrecords.com in the “Press” section.
EXCERPTS FROM WHAT THE PRESS HAS SAID ABOUT UPSILON ACRUX:
“Galapagos Momentum, the new full-length recording from San Diego's Upsilon Acrux comes through the speakers without introduction and at full ramming speed. Instantly the listener is taunted by frantic guitar-tapped triplets and manic snare drum syncopation. … Cerebral and intuitive bass lines are punctuated by spastic bursts of a free-jazz nature.
“What do you get when you combine elements of Red-era King Crimson, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Henry Cow, Magma, Univers Zero, John Coltrane, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Don Caballero, and Hella? Probably something close to Galapagos Momentum by Upsilon Acrux, a brash four piece band featuring dual guitars, bass, and drums, who play a complex brand of insrumental rock that is part prog, part fusion, part metal, and part post-punk. Sound interesting? It sure is. …this CD sizzles from start to finish, ten tracks of complex interplay that is bound to knock you on your ass in awe of these four dudes' knack for telepathic interplay. As they weave their intricate lines and melodies through complex ditties…you can't help but be impressed with the dexterity of it all, especially the deft guitar work of Paul Lai and Braden Miller. These two have perfectly channeled some warped hybrid of Robert Fripp, Adrien Belew, Fred Frith, and John McLaughlin, and, coupled with the amazing rhythms from drummer Jesse Appelhans and bassist Eric Kiersnowski, turn pieces…into what could be long lost tracks from Crimson's Larks Tongues in Aspic album. … All of this insantity is funneled through a punk attitude and sense of aggression, making Galapagos Momentum one hell of an exciting listening experience. … [Score: 4 stars]”
“… If he were alive today, Mozart could just join a "brutal prog" band and play all the notes he wanted. …the band's into four-man hardcore alien sex, using warp-speed guitar tapping and athletic drum/bass maneuvers to lock in and then orgasmically bust out of rhythmic and harmonic prog pretzels.
“Punk and prog aren’t the most natural pairing, but a small number of bands have been finding the connectionsamong them, Hella, Flying Luttenbachers, and Upsilon Acrux, a San Diego outfit of variable size… Their fifth full-length is a work of dazzling complexity, moving at blink speed over pixilated landscapes of fractured sound. In opener “Who’s Running Shit (Son of Destiny’s Child)”, guitar and drums move in linked, but distinct patterns, occasionally joining in unison, but mostly using each other’s forays as jump-off points; during a lyrical middle section, guitar notes turn liquid and less frantic, while the drums surge and splatter and burst explosively underneath. Points for funniest title go to “Touched by God (In Appropriately)”, and the music, too, seems to grin a little, staccato bursts of guitar and synth setting off clash and stutter of drums, everybody exulting in sheer speed and difficulty. … Consider these compositions as odd-sided polygons, not quite fitting into the square slots assigned to them, a bit alien in their geometrical precision, yet utterly true to their own difficult nature. [Rating: 7/10]”
“Unlike the swath of bands making avant-garde punk noise these days. Upsilon Acrux have been paying their dues with recordings up and down since 1997. …the execution makes for an album that doesn’t sound like random shit thrown together… for fans of the style and those initiated to varying degrees, the album is considerably more enjoyable…due to GM having stronger nods to traditional rock structures. …the best moment on GM comes with the opening song “Who’s Running Shit (Son of Destiny’s Child)” - specifically, the atmospheric guitar attack towards the end. Rock.”
“… Even folks who despised math in school will be able to appreciate these incredibly intricate yet undeniably satisfying performances. The lines unleashed by guitarists Paul Lai and Braden Miller throughout "Touched by God (Inappropriately)" and the rest of these sonic outbursts are the aural equivalent of a double helix: complex, well-constructed, essential. ”
- Michael Roberts, Denver Westword, November 6, 2007, www.westword.com
“… Upsilon Acrux have toned done their metal/brutal edge and honed their skills even more, if that's possible. … "Who's Running Shit (Son of Destiny's Child)" is a stunning example of both virtuosity and clever composition: guitar parts are interlaced and full of intricacies, while the drums take on a modular approach, with a new pattern every four bars. It's quite a head rush. "Expiration Date… and "Touched by God (Inappropriately)" are also just as dense and masterful. "Hiking Up Feel Good Mountain…," …showcases a softer side to the band, with cyclical guitar motives evoking Heldon... However, singling out a few cuts does no justice to this amazing, and amazingly consistent, album. And here, the group strikes a convincing balance between the aggressiveness of bands like Ruins and the Flying Luttenbachers, and the lighter feel of Miriodor and Forever Einstein. … How fitting that it turns out to be their best and (relatively) most accessible release to date. [Rating: 4 stars]”
“Upsilon Acrux, according to…The Wire are “free-jazz and hard-core fusion dominated by an astonishing kind of Splatter Prog” which kind of makes sense, although there’s a lot more rock here, and even some dangerous teeters close to thrash metal. But it is also very precise, complex and dazzlingly arranged really. And, woah, it’s so in-yer-face and frantic that you could end up panting just by listening to it! The guitarist is in that crazy French punk meets Robert Fripp type of style, and the rhythmic structures are often totally John French / Jerry Handley (Magic Band), and there’s a surprise around every corner, rhythm break, chord changes, etc. …”
“… Upsilon Acrux’s music is quite reminiscent of “Five Percent for Nothing” from Yes’s Fragile. …the herky-jerky asymmetrical meters, loose feel, relatively clean guitar sound, slight buzz of the bass, dissonant harmonies with a lax tonal framework, and meandering, contrary lines approaching…polyphony. …atypical of the Yes oeuvre, but indicative of its edgier possibilities.
“TOP 2007 … PROGRESSIVE ROCK SECTION … UPSILON ACRUX Galapagos momentum (Cuneiform Records)
“It's no surprise that San Diego's Upsilon Acrux have found their way to the Cuneiform roster; after all, the Californian quartet are one of the better domestic prog acts currently working, and Cuneiform's long been one of North America's premiere depots for the best of prog, past and present. …
“Organ top 50 albums of the year - the list is up… [#]2: UPSILON ACRUX - Galapagos Momentum (Cuneiform)”
“… Accurately described in the promo blurb as ‘aggressive, intricate, athletic, complex and composed post-punk, instrumental rock’, they…take a variety of influences - a handful would include (fellow post-rock instrumentalists) Don Caballero, Neu, Magma, The Mahavishnu Orchestra and King Crimson…yet manage to integrate them into a sound which is easily identifiable as their own.
“For those who think that Progressive Music is for old lads, you should pay better attention… Avantgarde Progressive Music is one of the most controversial sub-genres of Prog. … This Post-Punk movement is…dominated by really young bands. …Cuneiform Records…are trying their best to show these bands to the world and recently signed with Upsilon Acrux. … “Galapagos Momentum” is their fifth studio album… WHO’S RUNNING SHIT (SON OF DESTINY’S CHILD) features a raw, intricate and somehow complex rhythmic game, showing some flashes of earlier King Crimson on acid! … This track, as most of the album, doesn’t stick to a pattern for more than 30 seconds… be prepared to let the music guide you through an intense journey! PETROVICH follows…complete but controlled madness! Sometimes the music seems to be too much ruled by maths but then you’ll find them doing the most crazy improvisation…guided by their own feelings. …This album took two days to record so now you may guess how raw the overall sound is. …no major effects and production artifacts. … They play great…”
“…this very disciplined combo. …are comparable to bands like The Flying Luttenbachers and Ahleuchatistas: bands that try to combine the energy and directness of punk with the compositional complexity and technical ability that we find in progressive and metal music. …they are also closely linked to postrock guitarbands. … All 10 pieces on this CD are very speed-driven exercises and highly complex compositions with many breaks and twists. Sometimes we hear echoes of Beefheart, at other moments they recall the spirit of King Crimson. Listening to this album it is impossible not to be impressed by their discplined and athletic playing. With incredible polyrhythmic structures, unison playing at moments, etc., they play some very powerful music….”
VOLUCRIS AVIS DIRAE-ARUM
“Upsilon Acrux makes some of the most detailed compositions I have ever heard.” - Nels Cline
“The complex time signatures and breakneck tempo changes one might expect haven’t been abandoned by the group…but Volucris Avis Dirae-Arum relies on more than these jaw-dropping pyrotechnics to be successful. …the quintet still have the ability to make instrumental music interesting at any speed. It’s Upsilon Acrux’s songwriting that sets them apart, not flashy instrumentalism or fiery bombast. An impressive cover of Goblin’s “Night of the Goblin,” is a great link between the past and the present, and the stereo split of drummers Derek Bruns and Jesse Klecker is another novel attractor.
“…your first take on this fourth album by San Diego’s five-piece Upsilon Acrux will leave you speechless. The opener Oaxaca shows from the beginning that instead of just being another instrumental math band, the smart-assed use of Seventies moog keyboards and two drummers…add a welcome note of fun to their otherwise ultra-progressive…music.
LAST TRAIN OUT
“Last Train Out, Upsilon Acrux’s third installment of knotty, angular prog rock, clocks in at 34 minutes but is filled with enough ideas to easily flesh out a CD twice that length. The focus here is on composition rather than improvisation…with the band pushing at the limits of what a rock band can do with drums, electric guitars, bass, and some keyboards (though they're used less here than on previous releases). Tracks…further establish Upsilon Acrux’s complex, spastic, yet robotic style as something distinct from its varied…and showcase the band’s interplay with its best stop-on-a-dime tightness. Meanwhile, the quieter, yet still challenging “Propeller,” with its studiously interwoven guitar/harmonics display, finds the band carving out new sonic territory for itself. This is an impressive release…far from pop music, and is…recommended to serious-minded listeners. 4 STARS”
“…a truly unique brand of sonic disruption that’s ahead of its time? Welcome to the world of…Upsilon Acrux.
THE LAST PIRATES OF UPSILON
“Upsilon Acrux is Amazzzzzzzzing.” - Thurston Moore
“Last Pirates of Upsilon is another dense display of tight musicianship and original, uncompromising musical ideas from these brainy L.A. post-prog rockers. Here, the band plows through the difficult, unevenly cyclic rhythms of brief, tightly composed workouts…with great intensity and precision, leaving little breathing room… Other tracks…allow for more room to stretch out, juxtaposing noisy free-improv with moments of more structured interplay as well as some fully composed parts. Bringing together the more abstract, rhythmically dense aspects of ‘70s prog (such as King Crimson with a robotic, angular feel reminiscent of much late ‘70s/early ‘80s no-wave, Last Pirates… is both cerebral and physical at once. …those interested in “progressive rock” as an ideal rather than a time-locked style will want to check it out. 3 STARS”
“…This group of mutant, spasmodic avant-garde jazz rockers… mashes a frenzied-sounding Borbetomagus and a classic Ornette Coleman free-jazz approach into a collectively offensive-yet-powerful musical force… And while Upsilon Acrux thrive on the unexpected twists and turns of experimental music, there’s a readily apparent method to the band’s output, as a subtle yet confident mood pervades. The only thing that can be expected from these San Diegans is the unexpected, as it’s anyone’s guess as to what happens when “propeller guitars,” pocket trumpets and violas collide! …any band where the innocuous sounding “ambient-destructo-bass” is credited as an instrument had better deliver the goods, and Upsilon Acrux do just that, in an inspiring and exhilarating fashion.”
IN THE ACRUX OF THE UPSILON KING
“…free jazz and hardcore fusion dominated by an astonishing kind of Splatter Prog… inexhaustible musical invention …”
“…Combining great technical ability and psychedelic know-how, tightly-syncopated compositions and improvisation, the group burns it up heavily and intensely with the likes of Triple 0, Zorn's Painkiller, Zappa, Beefheart, Guru Guru, mad free-bop jazzers, '70s avant-proggers and who knows what other crazy cats. …”
FEATURES & INTERVIEWS:
“Beyond the museums of the mighty Sunset (and its tributaries) lurks Upsilon Acrux and the theoretical possibilities of rock 'without all the bullshit repetition'...
“Los Angeles "brutal prog" outfit Upsilon Acrux are bringing their herky-jerky instrumental prog mastery on tour. With the ridiculously good new album Galapagos Momentum out now on Cuneiform and a brand new five-man lineup, these dudes are primed to guitar tap their way into the hearts of men all across this great nation. They've also got a ton of excellent bands playing with them at various times…”
“’Ten Prog Drummers for Today’… Prog rock is alive and well, its essential sound heard in genres as diverse as progressive metal, post rock, neo progressive, future folk, and space rock. Who will lead the charge to the next heart of the sunrise? Read on.
“Downtown L.A.’s own citadel of skronk, the Smell lurks beneath faded purple neon down a dubious alleyway … this all-ages venue is a Phil Dickian electric dream of a 21st-century punk rock hangout, except that the music is punk only by DIY courtesy.The venue hosts the oddball and compelling. From the brute prog of Upsilon Acrux to Captain Ahab’s gelid dance-synth grooves to the lofty waif-pop of Hello Astronaut, Goodby Television, the acts navigate eccentric rivulets far outside the commercial mainstream. …”
“…if you're one of that growing segment of music fans who find themselves disenchanted with the constant indie-rock regurgitation cycle, the members of Upsilon Acrux welcome you with open arms and a whole lot of guitar tapping.
Quotes from Upsilon Acrux’s Paul Lai, excerpted from Etan Rosenbloom’s “Mapping the path to obscurity” in Prefix Magazine, October 18, 2006:
“We feel 7/4 the way that most people feel a 4/4 pocket. It's just a downbeat -- it's like you wanna rock, but so much shit is rocked in 4. And it's rad. But I can't do that shit again -- I'd like to hear something else. That's why I like Meshuggah and other bands that step out of the standard time signatures.“
“…I think Faust, especially, is one of the most creative bands ever: You can't really pinpoint what they exactly do. That's what all bands should strive for, creativity above genres or styles. It should be about trying to be as creative possible. … If you're not reaching out to someone, creating a personal bridge with lyrics and vocals,…then you should be insanely creative in a completely different way. “
For more information on Upsilon Acrux releases on Cuneiform or to book a phone/email interview please contact:
Albums on Cuneiform: