First Watch: Ahleuchatistas, 'Lighted Stairs'
I first saw this guitar and drums duo last month, in their home town of Asheville, N.C. during Moogfest. The festival is often thought of as just an electronic music festival and it does skew in that direction, but it primarily celebrates the creative souls in music and in doing so honors the spirit of electronic music pioneer Robert Moog. The sonic palette of guitarist Shane Perlowin and drummer Ryan Oslance certainly fits that description. I also hear these influences as I listen to Ahleuchatistas: the guitar inventions of Robert Fripp and even progressive rockers Gentle Giant, but also sounds that span the globe with styles that can feel North African or Asian.
Heads Full of Poison, Ahleuchatistas' new album, is a fabulous sonic journey honed from nearly 100 live performances into studio recordings that were made over a few years. The group has made seven albums in the last 10 years, but embarrassingly for me, this is my first encounter with Ahleuchatistas' music. I think I have some listening to do. The video here, for the tune "Lighted Stairs," may be your introduction to Ahleuchatistas. Director Courtney Chappell wrote to us about the choice of military footage to accompany this song:
The imagery is comprised of still photographs culled from antiquated special-interest military publications. Photographs that are intended to display the glory and athleticism of military air power are spliced into a sequential narrative and animated by hand. The aircraft are a stand-in for the human body. The shaky footage dramatizes agitation and apprehension, undesirable qualities for effective military conquests. The frantic quality of the video alludes to our somatic responses to the threat of violence and trauma, repressed realities in the selling of modern warfare through media. As aerial combat is increasingly waged from remote locations, the boundaries between two dimensional images and real acts of violence become blurred. By reanimating war instruments from a bygone era and setting their trepidatious activities to music, I hope to exhibit a human response to traumatic events.
Ahleuchatistas' Heads Full Of Poison is out now on Cuneiform and Harvest Records.