Pennsylvania based experimental trio, Orion Tango released their debut album in 2015. Titled after the band, the recording comprised of five songs sends you on an adventurous sonic journey. Guitarist and composer Tim Motzer tells us what was it like working on the album, but he also talks about inspiration, gear, and more.
How did the creative process go for Orion Tango?
The creative process went very well. Orion Tango is an improvising power trio. Bassist Barry Meehan, drummer Jeremy Carlstedt, and I have been working together in various formations and projects for years, and that is our forte. We create in the moment. So we don’t know what we are going to play, or what will happen. The thing about Orion Tango is the improvisational aspect. It’s something i’ve personally been delving deeply into for years with 1k Recordings projects like Instant Takemitsu (with Dino JA Deane), Goldbug (with Theo Travis), Base3, and in my solo work as well as with my scores and collaborations in modern dance. It’s a very profound thing, because the reward of this process, is what you will find by doing it. It’s not always a good feeling doing it, but ‘the moment’ is what it is about, and what you are left with is ‘the result’— this music. It’s a realtime compositional process, but we are letting the music unfold and, as musicians, helping it along or sonically sculpting it in a way. We all add and subtract ourselves dynamically as the music moves forward. This process is almost like being in a trance—deeply inside the music—with the deepest intent for expressing and riding the muse with Jeremy and Barry. Many people that have heard the record, think it was composed or at least arranged, but that is how it actually went down. Barry calls what we do “a calling of the spirits’. As Orion Tango continues performing and recording, the exciting aspect is where we will go, and what music will occur. It is wide open.
What does “Orion Tango” (album) musically represents in terms of achievement(s) of your careers?
It’s a piece of the puzzle in all our musical lives. It represents a part of a number of projects that we are involved in. For us, it is the uniqueness of the constellation of this trio—friends and great players—that want to create together at this level, and play a bunch of shows. It stretches us and we evolve because of this project.
What’s Orion Tango up to these days?
The debut album is out at 1krecordings.com. We just played on WXPN’s The Key Sessions, which was an amazing time. They have a beautiful studio there, and in addition to recording, we had live visuals by Jen Cleary to inspire the improvisations as well as added stimuli for the studio audience. The entire evening was filmed on multiple cameras, so I’d expect that to air soon, perhaps in February 2016. We may even have an audio release from that session. It was such an inspired intimate evening of spellbinding music. One where we start from zero really, and, in this case, it was a five note Japanese scale, that Barry only learned minutes before we started! Sometimes it feels like an aircraft rolling down the runway, and at some point without knowing, we are in the air. A fan described our music that night as ‘symphonies’. Fun stuff! Orion Tango’s next show is in Baltimore at the 8×10 on 1/28 along with Julie Slick’s new band EchoTest and Out of the Beardspace. Meanwhile, more booking is happening.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? How do you go about channeling it?
Inspiration can come from almost anywhere, and at anytime. Sometimes, it’s hard to get started, so we search for the spark. It could come from reading an interview, or listening to a record, or just playing. Anything could bring it on. I am inspired by painters, dancers, nature, music, reading and on and on. I think in terms of channeling, or finding the zone, it’s just about being yourself, and finding the music by doing it. It’s a process, and by doing it, something is bound to happen.
Which bands influence your sound?
It’s a hard call. I think we sound like us when we play. I hear us. It’s a unique blend of players with different backgrounds. We are not trying to sound like anyone else. Our sound palette is guitar, bass, pedals, amps, and drums. So it’s what we do with our instruments that matter. We’ve all listened to an enormous amount of music across our lives, and it’s all in there. It is a ridiculous list of luminaries, so hard to even try to name everyone! For me, Jimi Hendrix was a key early influence; many incredible jazz artists including Miles Davis and all who worked with him; ECM artists; electronic artists; Pink Floyd, Brian Eno, and Robert Fripp among many many others!
Have you performed live with Orion Tango before? How do people react on your music?
The thrilling thing to me is that people really seem to love what we do. It’s a process and a way of playing that is fresh and new to people. We aren’t trying to cop a genre or anything really, but just be in the moment and let this music happen. I think people enjoy seeing the process of making this music in a live setting.
Where do you see OT in the future?
I’d like to see us playing cool venues, art spaces, festivals, touring as much as we can. That’s my personal goal.
What have you been listening to lately?
As of late, a lot of jazz— ECM stuff, Keith Jarrett, Terje Rypdal, Eberhard Weber; John Coltrane, King Crimson 2015 tour box, Frode Gjerstad Trio, Gong, Henry Cow, Ryiuichi Sakamoto, Sidsel Endresen among lots of other records. It is an ongoing thing.
What are your all-time favourite records?
There are so many, it would be the longest list of all time! Here’s a few that come to mind, I have left many out. It’s such a difficult question to answer.
Pink Floyd – Meddle
Jimi Hendrix – Band of Gypsies
Terje Rypdal – Descendre
Eberhard Weber – The Colours of Chloe
Mahavishnu Orchestra – Apocalypse
King Crimson – Starless and Bible Black; Lizard; Discipline
Keith Jarrett – Dark Interval
Curtis Mayfield – Superfly
David Sylvian – Dead Bees on a Cake
John Lee Hooker – The Country Blues of John Lee Hooker
a smattering of classical recordings by
Bach, Messiaen, Bartok, Stockhausen, Terry Riley, Nancarrow…
Steve Reich – Music For 18 Musicians
Muddy Waters – After The Rain; Electric Mud
Ali Farka Toure
Brian Eno – Another Green World
Beatles – White Album
James Brown – There It Is
Steve Hillage – Motivation Radio
David Bowie – Low
Wes Montgomery – California Dreaming
Jon Hassel – 4th World
Stevie Wonder – Innervisions
Fela Kuti – Shuffering and Shmiling
SuperSilent – 7
Is there anything you want to add?
We really appreciate your support, please download, or purchase our new record, Orion Tango, at 1krecordings.bandcamp.com. While you are there, check out the other eclectic 1k releases. You can also find lots of info on Orion Tango at the label site, 1krecordings.com. Thanks!
Orion Tango’s self-titled debut album is out now via 1k Recordings. Buy it here.