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Upsilon Acrux Make Rock in Opposition Festival Appearance, Listen to ‘Landscape with Gun and Chandelier’

written by Mark Doyle September 12, 2016

Performing at Rock in Opposition Festival, France, September 18th 2016 at 6:15 PM
Listen to ‘Landscape with Gun and Chandelier’

‘Technically brilliant, rhythmically unbelievable, with just the right amount of melody…for fans of avant rock and insane jazz rock.’ –

Upsilon Acrux is an instrumental quintet (dual guitars, keyboards, bass and drums). Their music is generally very intense, loud, hard-hitting and unbelievably virtuosic. Upsilon Acrux’s music is demanding on many levels, but mostly it demands that you listen to it a number of times before forming an opinion, because only after you’ve gotten familiar with it can you get past the sheer complexity and onslaught of it all and hear the amazing musicality of what they are doing. This combination of blazingly fast, interwoven musical lines delivered at blinding speed mixed with their unique melodic sense makes Upsilon’s music instantly recognisable.

Upsilon Acrux formed in 1997. Guitarist Paul Lai recalls that he and another guitarist, Cameron Presley, started the band in Vista, a town in rural California “45 minutes from San Diego but several world’s away,” and ‘out of a desperate need to play interesting music.’ Adding Tom Cutler and drummer Jesse (Klecker) Appelhans to their lineup, they plunged into serious practice and adopted the name Upsilon Acrux – a name without specific meaning, but which the band agrees increasingly ‘fit’ the music.

The band’s recorded debut was auspicious – the 10-minute instrumental ‘Before The Pirates Came’ appeared as the opening track on a compilation of San Diego experimental music called Trummerflora 2, released by Accretions in 1998. Accretions released Upsilon Acrux’s first full-length album, In the Acrux of the Upsilon King, in 1999. The debut CD’s ‘inexhaustible musical invention’ caught the attention of avant music’s most prestigious magazine, The Wire, who praised the music as ‘free jazz and hardcore fusion dominated by an astonishing kind of Splatter Prog.’ Recorded by Lai, Klecker (Appelhans), Presley and Muir Tennerstet on bass, the 74-minute album was a ‘consistent assault on your regular rock instruments, accompanied by moogs and wacky sax’ [Audion]. Upsilon Acrux subsequently released three more albums. In 2006, Steve Feigenbaum, head of Cuneiform ran across a video on Youtube of the group performing their latest material and was utterly shellacked by it. Contacting the band, arrangements were made for Cuneiform to release their next album. This CD, Galapagos Momentum (2007), was Upsilon Acrux’s 5th release. In it, the band returned to a ‘more natural rock-band’ lineup with one drummer – Appelhans, two guitarists, Lai and Braden Miller, as well as bass player Eric Kiersnowski. Galapagos Momentum features 41 minutes of aggressive, intricate, athletic and composed post-punk instrumental rock contained on 10 tracks.

Shortly after the release of Galapagos Momentum, Paul assembled a new version of the band featuring himself and David Moeggenberg on guitars, keyboardist Phil Cobb, bassist Marty Sataman and drummer Chris Meszler and Upsilon went on an extensive tour, traveling and performing all the way across the US to the east coast and back again over a 4 week period. Soon after, they were tapped to open for Mission of Burma at a music festival in Kalamazoo, MI, where they performed for 3,000 people.

Returning home, the band played local shows and festivals and began working on new music, which culminated in the band’s sixth album, Radian Futura (2010). Radian Futura is an album of explosive, intense and surprisingly beautiful, intricate, instrumental rock. Simultaneously physical and cerebral, challenging and melodic, Radian Futura is Upsilon Acrux’s most accessible yet sophisticated release to date.

Upsilon Acrux have since released their newest work, Sun Square Dialect (2015), on New Atlantis Records. The band is touring widely in support of their new album across the US and throughout Europe.

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