The rains have finally come so any plans I had on riding tonight have been 100% quashed. Instead, I’ll use it as an opportunity to slip in a quickie with the heavy iron at the gym instead. Hey, why not? Oh, and I have the most amazing album to listen to – something I haven’t listened to in years – the ‘Too Hot to Sleep‘ album by the Luminescent Orchestrii.
Let me tell you a tale:
Uncle Lance and I once attended the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music & Dance in Chapel Hill, North Carolina as our annual “Gaycation” trip that summer. The line-up that year (2006) featured Donna the Buffalo, Mamadou Diabate, Otiel & The Peacemakers, TheTurtle Duhks, Cyro Baptista & Beat the Donkey, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Can Kickers, Barefoot Manner, Yo Mamma’s Big Fat Booty Band and a whole host of others.
Really, we just wanted a chance to drive somewhere we’d hadn’t been before, listen to music we hadn’t heard before and drink as much whiskey as humanly possible.
Mission accomplished on all fronts.
Anyway, one night after enjoying some drunken games of Carrom (an Indian board game) in one of the festivals feature game tents – there may have also been other more psychedelic influences at play as well) we wandered into the back of another adjacent tent in an effort to escape the rain that had decided to pour down. We had literally no idea what we had wandered into. Underneath the small canvas tarp that constituted itself as a “tent”, a small group had assembled to listen to this most incredible music being played by a guy with the craziest hair playing a resophonic guitar, two women playing violin and another dude that was playing what looked to be a huge ass gourd.
And the sound?
Well, let’s just say:
Introducing the Luminescent Orchestrii.
The only way to describe the band, which combines Middle Eastern, Gypsy, and traditional European music with Appalachian fiddles, hip-hop beats, and a punk attitude, would be “Oh my fucking God! What in the sweet Sam hell is this?”. And that pretty much sums up – very accurately, I might add – the unspoken message exchanged between Uncle Lance and I upon our eyes meeting just after we walked into the tent and heard this crazy music.
In essence, it’s psychedelic Romanian gypsy music.
The music instantly made the hair on the back of my neck stand up on end. It was incredible. It was both old and new at the same time and it was fucking crazy. Certainly among the best things we had heard all weekend and I had to have me some of this crazy music. So I purchased the album then and there at the teeny-tiny merchandising table at the back of the tent. Really, it was a little girl with dreads squatting on a picnic blanket with a suitcase full of CD’s.
I slapped down my $10.00 happily.
The band originally hails from New York City. Sxip Shirey (resonator guitar) is an international circus composer (and, apparently, it is not uncommon to find him playing a tampon applicator with the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus), Sarah Alden is an old-time fiddle player, Rima Fand is an experimental theater composer, and Benjy Fox-Rosen is a free-jazz bassist who, yes, plays a hollowed out gourd.
I could try and describe the album track by track but, really, it’s something that had to be experienced rather than heard. It’d be like trying to describe paisley fractals to a bind person. It’s orchestrated chaos in musical form. Just look at the album cover, how do you describe that? And, believe me, the picture does the band – and the music – 100% justice. But, shit, I’m going to try anyway.
Most of the tracks are instrumental and have been gleaned from an old Romanian fiddle songbook that one of the girls (I don’t remember which) found in an old pawn shop somewhere in Brooklyn and decided to rescue. Still, a few tracks have lyrics like ‘Knockin‘ which is a hot and steamy little number and ‘Tea‘ (complete with the most amazing vocal jam smack dab in the middle of it), Shirey’s ode to his steamy love for the hot beverage. Elsewhere, ‘She’s a Brick‘ is an incredible hip-hop inspired album that – get this – has no sampling or dubbing at all. Yup. All that funky gypsy beat shit is real, yo. ‘Cohen/Kolemeike‘ is also a crazy number that will melt down your brain into warm goo.
Yeah, it’s a fantastic listen and I’m definitely happy I got the opportunity to get reacquainted with it today. I think this is something I will certainly share with HRH in the car at some point and watch her little brain liquefy out her ears.