BADGE ÉPOQUE ENSEMBLE SELF-TITLED DEBUT OUT JUNE 7 VIA TELEPHONE EXPLOSION
TOUR DATES WITH U.S. GIRLS BEGINS MAY 11
Photo Credit : Colin Medley // DOWNLOAD HIGH-RES
Flute, congas, bass, drums, guitar and clavinet; this unconventional arrangement of instruments intertwine to form the debut album by Badge Époque Ensemble - a group of creative improvisers assembled to perform new, largely instrumental compositions by Maximilian ‘Twig’ Turnbull (formerly Slim Twig).
Today, the ensemble are sharing “Undressed In Solitude”, which features the otherworldly RnB of guest vocalist James Baley, from their upcoming self-titled debut, out June 7 via Telephone Explosion. Over 11 simmering minutes, the track defies the contemporary fixations of automated music to convincingly combine sensual and cerebral textures. While it may call to mind an improbable collision between psych-era Stevie Wonder and the whimsically dark, Fantastic Planet score, it is clear that we are operating in a post Wu-Tang paradigm.
The song “explores the notion of personhood as a daily application,” Turnbull tells Exclaim!. “What remains if misplaced or misapplied? How are we altered in sleep? Where is the singer if he is silent for most of a song? If an identity is misplaced, the only respite may be a rhythm to follow.”
Badge employs an eclectic cast of characters from the Toronto underground music scene, whose combined experience would take pages to spell out. It includes stints accompanying songwriters Andy Shauf and Marker Starling, outfitting heavies Blood Ceremony and Biblical, and respective careers spent gigging Django-jazz and the classical canon. Badge’s distinctive sound arises from the diversity of these musical exploits, creating a palpable chemistry well captured on the live-tracked songs that form the group’s self-titled debut.
Part of this crucial chemistry can be attributed to the fact that four of the six players in the Ensemble have been at the core of the live U.S. Girls band, a group that has scorched stages internationally over the past year and was hailed by Paste Magazine as the best live band of 2018.
Since 2015, when Turnbull released his final record as Slim Twig for DFA, he has largely concentrated his efforts as a producer and writer on the U.S. Girls project, making contributions to the theatrical rock outfit Darlene Shrugg, and the psychedelic jazz-funk collective The Cosmic Range. Badge’s set of songs is yet another 180-degree turn for an increasingly collective-minded bandleader who is singularly disdainful of any genre orthodoxy.
The record is a collection of densely packed grooves, arranged by committee. The blocky beats and bit- crushed landscapes of the record at large make for tactile productions (courtesy of a collaboration among producers Steve Chahley, Tony Price, and Twig) that can’t be comfortably ascribed to any one particular era of music making. If a crate of library, tropicalia, prog, and electric jazz records were flattened into a single 12” and then fed into a sampler, we might approximate the process. Instrumental hip hop by reverse osmosis, a musical perspective where Madlib’s jazz excursions carry as much weight as his sample-laced productions.
Although the group has largely maintained an aura of obscurity, with little online presence to date, their reputation as a live group is burgeoning. They were selected to tour across Canada to support the iconic Bill Callahan at the end of 2018, and Badge will make select appearances following the release of their debut album this spring. Fans of progressive, instrumental music would do well to take note.
Badge Époque Ensemble is:
Jay Anderson - Drums & Percussion
Chris Bezant - Guitar, Electric Sitar
Alia O’Brien - Flute
Ed Squires - Congas, Percussion
Giosue Rosati - Bass
Maximillian “Twig” Turnbull - Clavinet, Rhodes
May 11 - Toronto, ON - Garrison (CMW)
May 25 - St Johns, NB - Lawnya Vanya
June 2 - New York, NY / Union Pool
June 3 - Cleveland, OH - Beachland*
June 4 - Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle*
June 8 - Toronto, ON - Opera House*
June 14 - Guelph, ON - E Bar
July 13 - Toronto, ON - Baby G (Album Release)
* w/ U.S. Girls
BADGE ÉPOQUE ENSEMBLE TRACKLIST
01 Milk Spilt On Eternity
02 You Can Build A Palace, Or You Can Please People
03 Enormous Profit
04 Same Thought On Repeat
05 Undressed In Solitude
06 A Cloud I Dreamt