The Detroit experimental post-rock trio of Justin Groppuso-Cook (keys), Dave Alpern (bass) and Matt Smiley (drums) undergoes a majestic and curative transformation on their latest aspirational four-track EP, Relative to a Mood.
“Some of the songs that are on that album we’ve been playing for a really long time. Those songs themselves evolved over time, and then Dave jumped in, and the bass gave the music more heart and more life,” Groppuso-Cook said.
“When the songs started to evolve with Dave, and we started to write new stuff for fleshed-out, different ideas, I think that additional bass added this uplifting thing, and I think we just went with it. I don’t think there was this intentional way to make it like that, and I think in certain ways, it was weird for it to sound uplifting. The music we were writing at the time didn’t sound like that was the groove.”
Incidentally, Relative to a Mood carries a soothing, restorative groove as glistening elements of prog, post-rock, jazz, ambient, psychedelia and electronica spin into a silky, sonic cocoon. All four tracks invite increasing moments of euphoria, self-reflection, progression and enlightenment as listeners beautifully emerge from an inner sanctum.
Asklepius created their own inner sanctum last summer at Detroit’s High Bias Recordings with Chris Koltay. Groppuso-Cook, Alpern and Smiley spent several days recording different live takes for Relative to a Mood with loop pedals and later added layers of keys, guitar and tenor sax.
Jubilation to Ascension
Relative to a Mood slowly unfolds with the euphoric “Jubilation” as banging drumsticks, bright and lingering piano, proggy bass, glistening synths, steady drums, light cymbals and reassuring electric strums from guest guitarist Matt Romanski bring merriment and optimism. The track also eases the mind into a therapeutic seven-minute reverie.
“We just went into the studio and started with ‘Jubilation.’ We just ran through it 10 times to get the best take, and then we were like, ‘Let’s go to the next song,’ and then we would take a break for a couple minutes and listen to all the different takes and see which one was the best one,” Groppuso- Cook said.
Moss Jaw will invite Grand Rapids fans into their dark, dreamy post-rock world tomorrow night.
The Kalamazoo quartet will perform a Thursday night set at Grand Rapids’ The Snake Shack, a house-based venue that showcases art and music for local and touring bands.
“We plan to play some of the more popular tunes, such as ‘Like a Bug,’ ‘Dry Remains’ and ‘Twigs and Stems’ as a way to plug our recent release and also balance it out with new sonic growth,” said Kayley Kerastas, Moss Jaw’s vocalist and guitarist.
“The venue we’re playing at is a local Grand Rapids house that will provide an accessible way into the music scene, and thus hopefully spread the word of our music further out from Kalamazoo.”
With the recent release of their stellar full-length debut album, “Embody,” Moss Jaw is well-positioned to grow their burgeoning audience statewide and throughout the Midwest.
Their 11-track “Embody” album takes listeners on a dreamlike sonic journey through life-changing relationships, self-evolutions and deep cognitive perspectives cloaked in natural thematic elements. These personal reflections are musically told through enchanting metaphors about trees, insects and other terrestrial terrain.
Editor’s Note: This is the third installment in a multi-part series this week previewing the Audiotree Music Festival and profiling artists from the lineup.
Last year, four Kalamazoo pals decided to cultivate their own musical experience.
Together, Kayley Kerastas, Russ Wagner, Evan Asher and Max Murray planted the artistic seeds for Moss Jaw, a dark, dreamy post-rock project, and watched it flourish throughout the DITKalamazoo scene.
A year later, that musical sapling grew into an opening slot at this weekend’s Audiotree Music Festival. The Kalamazoo quartet will take root with a 12:25 p.m. set Saturday on the WIDR-FM Discovery Stage in Arcadia Creek Festival Place.
Moss Jaw will join nearly 30 other artists, including Father John Misty, Local Natives, Khruangbin, Basement and Real Estate.
They’re also one of several West Michigan-based artists featured in the Audiotree Music Festival lineup along with Michigander, Lushh, Jake Simmons & The Little Ghosts and Major Murphy.
Founded in 2013, the Chicago-based, Michigan-born Audiotree Music Festival celebrates new and emerging artists and is curated by the popular web music series Audiotree Live.
This year, Audiotree has joined forces with WIDR (89.1 FM), Western Michigan University’s college radio station, to plant the festival’s new Discovery Stage and feature 12 additional bands throughout the weekend.
WIDR invited Moss Jaw to perform at Audiotree after they won second place in a local Battle of the Bands contest earlier this year.
“Wonderfully enough, they wanted us on behalf of Audiotree, and we are just so stoked,” said Kerastas, Moss Jaw vocalist and guitarist. “We’ve been eyeballing that (Audiotree Live) session for a while, and we’ve been trying to reach that someday, and thankfully enough, we get to play the festival.”