By: Jack Derricourt
The sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet (1956) gave the world some wonderful things: Leslie Nielsen as a charming space commander, and the enchanting gyroscopes of Robby the Robot. But more than that, it gave us The Krells.
Named after the extinct race of underground inhabitants from Forbidden Planet, the Victoria-based group The Krells produce music that sounds appropriately otherworldly. A fusion of analogue digital sound manipulation and live mixing, the pieces constructed by the live electronica trio form glittering images of retro-futuristic wonder.
The Krells are busy guys. Dan Godlovitch, the man behind the modular synths in the trio, also produces a wide array of techno under the Ookpik banner. Kirk McNally doesn’t only mix the synthesized sounds of The Krells, but orchestrates the audio recording wing of UVic’s music department. The final cog in the machine is John Celona, who teaches composition at UVic and researches the future of all things performance and technology. With this cornucopia of projects on the go, it’s hard to imagine that these three distinguished electronic-music minds can make the time for live performance.
There’s something special about the experience of The Krells in comparison to the other work in which all three members are engaged, something that keeps them coming back to it after two years of collaboration.
“It’s a real dialogue between very different sides of 20th and 21st century experimental music,” says Dan Godlovitch. “Working with [Celona] and [McNally], since we’re from these different backgrounds, it’s been a case of finding the common ground that lets us glue our ideas together and explore the ways which our completely different approaches can be used to make new and interesting things.”
One listen to the music on the group’s website, and Godlovitch’s words resound: The Krells have a cemented style of vibrant variety, one that attracts the ear with dissonance, distorts melodies into far-off daydreams, and drives towards a horizon of deranged rhythms. Mood shifts quickly as synth lines twirl and contort around an initial frame piece. Twittering, scooping, muttering; sounds take their place in the lineup of unusual suspects that populate a world created by the analogue and digital instruments.
When asked what he expects of The Krells’ performance at Open Space on April 19, Godlovitch emphasizes the visceral effect that experimental electronica has on audiences. “I’d love to see people moving to what we do. But even for sitting down sections, or more space-filled sections of composition, we craft the sounds that we use to induce a physical reaction.”
At its core, the music of The Krells is about play. The trio draws upon years of expert knowledge to elicit effects and mutations of noises that provoke and stir. It is not to be missed.
The Krells are taking over Open Space on Friday, April 19. Advance tickets available at KrellsAtOs.brownpapertickets.com. Cash only at the door. $10 for students and Open Space members, $15 regular. The invasion begins at 8 p.m.