When Kingston’s all-star exploratory space rock band Ultraam undertakes its monthlong residency at the Anchor in Kingston (every Friday in February), this collective of well-connected players and producers (including members of Mercury Rev and the Duke McVinnie Band) will exploit those connections to fill out the bills with a stunning variety of notable performers and bands, most but not all from the more experimental fringes of sound art, noise, art song and electronica. But opening for Ultraam comes with a catch. Many of the acts hired on to play sets will additionally be invited (required?) to join Ultraam in doing “that Ultraam thing,” which I wrote about at length here: https://bit.ly/1QaJwfo.
In short, that Ultraam thing is a completely improvised but solo-free and groove-heavy approach to ensemble excursion. Part rock in its toolset, part electro, the band is steadfast (and consistently successful) in its commitment to its democratic (anarchistic?) exploratory concept. To a player with her own set of moves, orthodoxies and stylistic coordinates, the Ultraam thing can be an unnerving challenge: one that invites you to be musically useful but not necessarily to “be yourself.”
Many of the acts lined up for the residency are kindred spirits with related methodologies – for example, the Aaron/Chase guitar in Week 3 (February 19) or Patrick Higgins of the avant-classical group Zs in Week 2 (February 12). Others, like the super-smart, velvety pop trio Invisible Familiars in Week 2 (February 12?) will be fascinating to watch swinging around in Ultraam’s jungle.
The series begins on Friday, February 5 at 9:30 p.m. with performances by Ultraam, plus the duo of Kid Millions and Jim Sauter and other guests. The Anchor is located at 744/746 Broadway in Kingston. For more information on Ultraam, visit www.pasturesofultraam.com.
Ultraam residency, every Friday in February, the Anchor, 744/746 Broadway, Kingston; www.pasturesofultraam.com.