GoGo Penguin Brings Acoustic Music Tour Electronica to Boulder Theater

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Manchester, England-based forward-thinking trio GoGo Penguin is a downright acoustic number with piano, double bass, and drums, but the band’s songs are interpretations of electronic music projects the band first built on. a computer using software such as Logic or Ableton.

Take “Initiate”, from last year’s Blue Note album Man made object. When drummer Rob Turner brought an electronic music project he had built to pianist Chris Illingworth and bassist Nick Blacka, it contained African and tribal samples and wild percussion, but no drums or piano.

“There were some really weird synth sounds, and then just tons and tons of really sinusoidal sub bass types, Illingworth says. “I remember thinking, ‘I can do this.’ I would say to Rob, ‘Give me that melody. I will go out and work with it.

“I sat at the piano and worked through all of these layers and patterns and things that I could hear in there, but a lot of them weren’t really there, exactly, he continues. “I was finding lines that I could hear that weren’t actually played out in this project. It’s definitely a way to start, and then we interpret that, and then develop it from there.

As with “Initiate,” Turner could start a song in Logic and bring it to his bandmates. “Then we’re going to deconstruct that, take it apart and take the essence of it and take the ideas and then do something for the trio,” Illingworth said.

Even when the songs are reinterpreted on acoustic instruments, they sometimes sound like electronic songs thanks to Turner’s inventive drums and percussion. The music evokes Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Orbital and Massive Attack, all groups that musicians admire.


Since the musicians are also trained in jazz, there is an organic warmth that enlivens many songs on Man made object. While their clever combo of electro and jazz is more refined on this recording, as well as on the early albums v.2.0 and Marching bands, Illingworth says there’s more raw edges on this year’s four-song EP, Living in Abbey Road, which was recorded in the legendary studio where musicians from Paul Robeson to The Beatles have previously recorded.

Illingworth says it was very important to play there, even though there were only about 20 people quietly watching the trio.

“But we got really involved,” he says. “It was pretty fun after all. We decided to record it just to see what came out of the session, and luckily at the end it was pretty cool. But we wanted to keep it quite different from what we have. done before. We haven’t tried to tweak things. There’s a little more raw edges in the music. We were very happy to leave it like that, because obviously it’s a kind of recording very different from what we do if we are going to record an album.

Living in Abbey Road includes three songs by Man made object and “Ocean in a Drop”, a song that is part of the band’s alternate score to Godfrey Reggio’s film Koyaanisqatsi (the original was composed by Philip Glass).

In 2015, the musicians were invited to write a soundtrack for a silent film of their choice for HOME, an art, theater and film complex in Manchester. At first they wanted to mark the 1926 Japanese silent film A page of madness, but since they couldn’t secure the rights, they approached Reggio and Glass, who both gave the group the go-ahead to write their own score for the film.

“I must have watched the movie from start to finish hundreds of times now,” Illingworth says. “I made sure every time I didn’t listen to the sheet music. Silence. I just looked at the pictures. And we took what we could of that. We really wanted to make sure we were doing our own thing. It’s the same with the music we write for our albums that we perform. ”

GoGo Penguin, with What Young Me Do, 8 p.m. Wednesday, September 6, Boulder Theater, 2032 14th Street, Boulder, $ 20 to $ 25.


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