Photo | Sterling Munksgard
Papadosio is an exploratory progressive rock band whose profile has risen among EDM enthusiasts.
Band: Papadosio, Higher Learning, Zew Mob
Date: Wednesday, Aug. 22, with doors at 7 p.m.
Venue: Soul Kitchen, 219 Dauphin St., www.soulkitchenmobile.com
Tickets: $18 in advance/$22 day of show, available online, Mellow Mushroom (WeMo/MiMo) or by calling 1-866-777-8932
For over a decade, Papadosio has brought its live audiences a delightful mixed bag of instrumental jams accented by EDM overtures. This group’s commitment to musical exploration has allowed it to reach a wide and diverse audience beyond the jam festival environment in which they were born, attracting a dedicated fanbase.
With EDM dominating the modern festival scene, this Asheville, North Carolina, band has been attracting a new generation of listeners. For keyboardist Sam Brouse, Papadosio’s recent profile is an opportunity to show younger listeners the inexhaustible approaches to combining traditional instruments with digital elements.
While Brouse feels fortunate new fans are connecting with Papadosio’s sound, he knows it won’t appeal to all EDM enthusiasts.
“It’s sometimes discouraging,” Brouse said. “As a band, it’s hard to supply the kind of energy that you can get from a straight EDM show. I get it. The energy in the crowds at those shows are out of this world. We’re lucky that some people have enough of an attention span to really think about what we’re doing and get into it.”
The band will be visiting the Azalea City on the cusp of releasing its full-length album, “Content Coma,” which will be available Sept. 7. Brouse says the title reflects society’s obsession with online content as well as the abandonment of face-to-face emotional interaction in favor of communication using phones or computers.
While he admits the theme might be overdone, Brouse said he finds it interesting the social media age has made it a challenge for some people to emotionally connect beyond the internet. He notes some people are content to live within their own electronic reality and ignore the expansive world around them.
Brouse says the album’s title also reflects one aspect of its production. When Papadosio first began putting together the tracks for “Content Coma,” the members had to cull through 30 song ideas — a task made easier thanks to modern technology.
Papadosio used a “cloud platform for music creation, collaboration and sharing” called Splice. Splice allowed the band’s members to access tracks on the “Ableton Live” community at their respective home studios, where they could collaborate or work independently. While sifting through the numerous tracks, Brouse said, the band began concentrating on whatever tracks were receiving the most individual attention from band members. Ultimately, the band whittled it down the dozen songs on “Content Coma.”
“It’s a collection of songs that we’ve written while we’re living in our own little internet bubbles and content comas,” Brouse said. “It’s a really interesting way to sum up the era in which we made the record.”
But the band also tried something else new. The group has built a reputation for exclusively using a DIY recording process, with guitarist Anthony Thogmartin acting as producer. While Thogmartin maintained his producer status on “Content Coma,” the band decided to lay down the album’s live instrument tracks in a professional studio with an engineer.
Brouse says there were two advantages to using a professional studio over their home setups. First, he says the raw live-instrument tracks were guaranteed to be high quality with little effort. Brouse says this made it easier for the band to “go a lot of different places” before a song reaches the final cut. He adds that having an engineer rather than a band member manning the board made for a more relaxed, artistically beneficial recording process.
“It was nice,” Brouse said. “We didn’t have to be operating the computer while somebody was tracking for eight hours. We could just say, ‘That wasn’t it. Take it again.’ We were acting more as producers than engineers and producers and mixers and all that stuff. It was just one less thing that we had to really worry about.”
Papadosio has offered a preview of the album with two singles. “Pool of Stars” is a track notable for its New Age jazz ambiance heightened by intricate rhythmic piano work. This dreamy, musical trip through space lives up to its name. On the second single, “Distress Signal,” the band’s EDM persona comes into the forefront. The electronic features of this track are wonderfully modular and minimalist in the tradition of such classic projects as Future Sounds of London.
“With ‘Distress Signal,’ that type of modular synthesizer production stands out on its own on this album,” Brouse said. “That’s almost like the dark, hard-hitting aspect of [the album].”
As far as other tracks on the album, Brouse says “Content Coma” is “all over the place,” especially on the electronic side. Some songs use electronic icon Brian Eno as a muse. Other tracks were inspired by German minimalist composer Ulrich Schnauss. Brouse said some tracks were created exclusively using FM synthesizers. Ultimately, Papadosio created these tracks with little concern for their performance in a live setting.
“This time around, we thought way less about how we were going to perform them live and more about what the song needed and the interesting, different textures that we could create with synthesizers and the computer,” Brouse said.
As far as the amount of new material that will be performed at Soul Kitchen, Brouse says the band had yet to set plans for this run of dates. He did add the band had performed “Distress Signal” at Red Rocks in July, but were considering reworking it for the stage.
“When you’re in a smaller room like Soul Kitchen, the energy in there is just amazing,” Brouse said. “Everybody knows that they’re there to see us do what we do, and we can just relax. We thrive when it’s our crowd.”
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