Morphosis' improvisational collective will release a live album in July.
Upperground Orchestra, an improvisational collective loosely centered around Rabih Beaini (AKA Morphosis), will release its first album in July, entitled The Eupen Takes.
The six-track release shows Upperground Orchestra doing what they do best: playing a chaotic blend of jazzy, krauty and electronic sounds, free of any rehearsed plan or guideline. The group first appeared on record back in 2008 with Solaris Eremit, an EP on Beaini's Morphine Records, but had been playing shows around Venice even before then. Everything they do is always 100% improvisitional, which makes sense given their origins: according to Beaini, they were originally two unrelated groups that a promoter accidentally double-booked, which led to the spontaneous formation of Upperground Orchestra.
The Eupen Takes documents the second half of a set at the Eupen Muzik Marathon in Belgium last June. Earlier this week, we caught up Beaini and the group's drummer, Tommaso Cappellato, to talk more about the roots of the album and the band itself:
How would you describe the overall method or philosophy behind the group?
Rabih Beaini: It was born as an open stage or jam reunion band. It's like an open project for musicians. Anybody from the crowd could go on stage and play with us. And it worked like this for about a year or so and then for many other reasons it became a real band after that. But still we never do rehearsals or studio sessions.
Tommaso Cappellato: Now that I think about it, Rabih is a little bit like Miles Davis. Miles had the amazing ability of gathering key musicians and the way he combined them into the same group gave life to that incredible music that we all love. In that sense Upperground Orchestra works the same way. There is no method really, it's the chemistry between the different experiences, backgrounds and personalities of the single musicians in the band that produces a certain kind of magic. We start from scratch and finish the same way. Sometimes I listen to a recorded live session and I say to myself that even if we rehearsed a hundred years we wouldn't be able to come up with that kind of togetherness.
How is this different from your other projects?
RB: By nature I am not a programmer. I follow my impulses, my feelings, even on the machines, and that's mainly what I'm doing as Upperground Orchestra and as Morphosis. It's exactly the same thing to be honest.
TC: I work with countless different projects. More recently I tend to have something already organized before going on stage, although I spent a long period in New York showing up at restaurant gigs, where people didn't want to be bothered by cacophony, playing completely improvised music and making it sound pretty. It was hard to have fresh ideas all the time but after a while I got used to it. Right now I run a 14-piece orchestra playing my original compositions and other smaller projects with other people's music. I like doing both things and definitely one helps the other.
Can you describe the event where the new album was recorded?
RB: The concert was in Belgium, one year ago, in a city called Eupen in the German district of Belgium. And it was a big festival called Music Marathon, and Meakusma, the label and organization from Eupen, they had a stage and they hosted us and there was also Harmonious Thelonious, Shackleton and other artists.
TC: If you imagine a typical eclectic, inspiring electronic music festival with a super specialized audience you totally got the wrong idea. It was more like a mom-&-pop-with-kids-and-strollers kind of fair full of stages, food and beer stands. There were many different kind of genres being played. Before and after our gig we kept going around trying to hear other music but everywhere we went every band was sound checking, so we called it the "Soundcheck Music Fest." We're still laughing about that, it was so surreal.
When our turn to play came at Meakusma Stage, by far the most interesting place in the whole festival, after a difficult three-hour sound check, it started raining and most of the people seemed to not get what we were going for. Still I can remember how inspired the band was despite all the misfortune. When I first got to hear the recordings I was even more impressed, and that's the feeling I always get with this band.
RB: I remember the sound man on our stage, annoyed by the amount of synths he had to plug in for me, he said, "PLEASE bring a laptop next time!" After the concert he told me: "Oh... if I ever see you with a laptop I'm gonna destroy it, this is how you should play, only like this." It was really a special day, this is why I've decided to document it. It's not really an album, it's more of a travel document.
01. Born Again
02. Memory Shark
03. Distorted Spread
04. Into The Dust
05. We Travel The Lands Of Stars And Dust
Morphine Records will release The Eupen Takes in July 2012.