Once and Future Band
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Analog synthesizers give tangible life to the works of Guerilla Toss. Whether it be the sound of a rocket ship, a kitten-with-a-wah, distorted dolphins, or a clavichord made out of honey-baked ham, the band consistently finds new ways to bring together the many ideas that combine to shape each new batch of art-rock puzzle pieces.
Twisted Crystal, Guerilla Toss’ new LP, feels more personal than ever for the band. Angular yet irresistibly catchy, this collection of pop songs pulls influence from powerful groups like The Slits, ESG, Gina X, and early Madonna, with sing-speak vocals from Kassie Carlson nodding to legendary artists like Laurie Anderson, Grace Jones, and Lizzy Mercier Descloux – combining this all into a twisted, crystalline concoction.
Oracles and enigmatic egos are common lyrical themes, but charismatic instrumentality springs the listener back to extraterrestrial comfort. Old favorite sounds ring true from the trusty Sequential Circuits Six Track Synthesizer and Clavia Drum Machine. New, more refined sounds are molded and polished by drummer/producer Peter Negroponte, whose passion for perfection and creation goes far beyond an all-consuming Tetris effect. Peter has truly excelled on this new recording, creating a complex networks of beats and sound that become easily intertwined with the rhythmic fabric of life.
Raised in a devoutly religious family, vocalist Kassie Carlson started performing at the age of five. She often participated in large pastoral choral performances, as well as her family’s four-part harmony gospel quartet, making her no stranger to the stage. Growing up under the fear of God leaves a distinct footprint on your perception. An omnipresent male dictates not only your present waking life but also the rest of your eternity. Discovering a rock band was more than self-expression for Kassie, it was a manifestation of a self-healing temple, a personal pipeline for power. What better way to part the waters of toxic sludge than a matriarchal shout?
Arian Shafiee, Guerilla Toss’ resident textural-guitar guru, is inspired by aspects of non-Western tuning and extended techniques. He designs moments of dense, glistening, pitch-shifted harmony and measured strumming that link classical impressionism to no-wave and early minimal music. His recent solo work truly comes through on this new record, as he tethers fantastical surreality to noise rock to deconstructed Middle Eastern pop music.
Keyboardist Sam Lisabeth paws the keys with distinct virtuosity and expressive sass. A new member, Stephen Cooper (of the band Cloud Becomes Your Hand), binds the group with an urgent, disciplined, and melodic style. The hypnotic, ostinato-like basslines and up front rhythm tracks guide and grip each song like gravity, keeping the listener from swirling off into the cosmos.
In albums past, Kassie’s performances resembled more of a manic, possessed high priestess; humming at the gates of hell, hacking telepathy and tugging the strings of every audience member. Twisted Crystal goes beyond this familiar darkness, leading us into a rhythmically calming charm with deep wisdom, serenity, and understanding. What is a twisted crystal? And who told you it would heal?
At times the listener wanders through mazes of dizzying, alternately pulsing time signatures, but the roads always bounce, meet and magically snap back together. That meditative groove, both live and in the studio, has become signature for Guerilla Toss, drawing deep influence from 70s krautrock and experimental rock music like Tom Tom Club, Talking Heads, Brian Eno, Neu!, Cluster, Todd Rundgren, and La Dusseldorf.
A constantly evolving, living breathing entity, the band now presents the album Twisted Crystal. Enjoy the same surrealistic, kinetic healing energy of live Guerilla Toss, today in your own home.
“Magic is Easy. Hypnotize yourself well.”
Formed out of the primordial creative ooze of the San Francisco Bay Area, Oakland’s Once & Future Band is Joel Robinow (keyboards, lead vocals), Raze Regal (guitar, vocals), Raj Ojha (drums, recording) and Eli Eckert (bass, vocals). For over a decade, Joel, Raj and Eli had worked together (in various combinations) with several bands and projects, including Drunk Horse and Howlin’ Rain. Throughout those years, they often spoke of forming an outlet into which they could combine their love of 60s and 70s psychedelic pop, jazz-rock, fusion and progressive rock, in addition to their myriad other musical fascinations.
In 2012 word finally became deed and Once & Future Band was born, taking inspiration for their name from T.H. White’s Arthurian classic. In 2014 they released the “Brain” EP on Mouth Records, drawing comparisons to ELO, Queen, Steely Dan, Yes and The Beach Boys. Not long after, they found a kindred musical comrade in Raze Regal after meeting outside an Oakland house party and soon enlisted him into the ranks.
In 2017, the band released their self-titled LP on John Dwyer’s Castle Face records, garnering rave reviews from MOJO, Uncut, Modern Drummer and Shindig among other publications and landing a spot on The Wire and The Guardian’s Best of 2017 list. Their songs have been featured on Henry Rollin’s KCRW radio program as well as the BBC Radio shows of Gideon Coe, Jon Hillcock and Marc Riley (whose show they have performed live on multiple times). They’ve made their way across the US, UK and Canada, played as main support slots for tours with Tool and Chris Robinson’s “As The Crow Flies” and have shared the stage with such diverse acts as Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, White Denim, Mild High Club, King Tuff, Dungen, !!!, Battles, Foxygen, Red Fang and Metronomy. They were also personally selected by Flying Lotus and Wire to play their curated festivals.
777 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA, 94110