bands – past & present

Rabbit Rabbit (Carla Kihlstedt & Matthias Bossi)

Drawing on our love of art song, folk song, industrial music, improvised music and heart-wrenching balladry, drummer/keyboardist Matthias Bossi and I are Rabbit Rabbit. If you listen closely, you’ll hear traces of our other musical associations (Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Tin Hat, 2 Foot Yard, The Book of Knots, Fred Frith’s Cosa Brava) but this project is our own personal challenge – a dare to peel back influence and to reveal a music that is stripped down and intimate. Armed with a motley assortment of instruments from a motley assortment of eras (pump organ, cajon, Fender Rhodes, bass harmonica, nyckelharpa) Rabbit Rabbit is raw and beautiful, sparse and rich, lighthearted and full of pathos. We bring to life the small stories of unsung heros… and almost always tell the truth.

In 2012, we created a subscription-based website, RabbitRabbitRadio, as a way to connect with our listeners in a more meaningful way in this post-label world. For three years, on the first day of every month we released a new Rabbit Rabbit song to our subscribers, along with a video, photos, and other relevant insights. We then released each year’s output as its own album. (To browse all of these songs, etc, go to rabbitrabbitradio.com.)

We are currently working on a new song cycle about our changing oceans with an expanded team of wonderful musicians. For more information, and to support and follow our progress, go to RabbitRabbitRadio.com.

Rabbit Rabbit is:

CARLA KIHLSTEDT VOICE, VIOLIN
MATTHIAS BOSSI DRUMS, PERCUSSION, KEYBOARDS, VOICE

 

Tin Hat

The music of Tin Hat is born of age-old friendships and deep musical connections. It is subtle, introspective and generous. It has the uncanny ability to be both melancholy and joyful,  sprightly and sinister. We’ve chosen to dig our heels in and embrace the limitations of our old acoustic instruments, letting the rich tone of 150-year-old wood speak for itself… and the accordion, of course, which always speaks for itself.

Collectively, our writing focuses on crafting evocative melodies, subtle textures and elegant arrangements. Though we never pitch our tent in any musical camp for very long, our atmospheric sound sways gracefully between the worlds of folk, classical, Americana and countless others. The New York Press put it this way: Tin Hat “interweaves Old World Europe with postmodern America, south-of-the-border sensuality with concert-hall propriety, and odd-metered syncopation with deeply soulful grooves.”

Our first five studio albums were largely instrumental, but included vocal cameos by Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, Mike Patton, and myself. For our most recent studio album – the rain is a handsome animal – 17 songs after the poetry of E.E. Cummings (New Amsterdam Records) – I embraced the dual role of violinist/vocalist, interpreting Cummings’ concise, bold and whimsical poetry.

Tin Hat is:

BEN GOLDBERG – CLARINET, CONTRA-ALTO CLARINET
CARLA KIHLSTEDT – VIOLIN, VOICE
MARK ORTON – GUITAR, DOBRO, BANJO
ROB REICH – ACCORDION, PIANO

 

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum is many things. It is, first and foremost, no longer. When it was last both first and foremost, it was a deranged musical collective as dedicated to metal and rock as it is to modern classical and experimental music. It was also a family, a traveling circus, a soothsayer, a call to arms, a blind man standing naked in the middle of a bridge, a Saturnalian celebration, and yes… a Museum. SGM are collectively makers of instruments, barkers and bakers, finders and fixers, drawers and snappers, and brave putters-together of thought and theory into great big orderly messes of sound and fury.

Built on a long and bewildering mythology, SGM has released 3 studio records: Grand Opening and Closing (The End, 2001), Of Natural History (Mimicry, 2004) and In Glorious Times (The End, 2007). The fourth and final record, Of the Last Human Being, will be released at some indiscernible date in the future, followed by a mildly educational film about the Last Human Being, and a live concert DVD. We are not entirely opposed to the idea of posthumous activity.

Sleepytime Gorilla Museum is:

MATTHIAS BOSSI – DRUMS, MARIMBA, MELODICA AND VOICE
NILS FRYKDAHL GUITARS, FLUTES, AND VOICE
CARLA KIHLSTEDT ELECTRIC VIOLIN, VOICE AND PERCUSSION GUITAR
MICHAEL MELLENDER – PERCUSSION, GUITAR, TRUMPET, GLOCKENSPIEL, VALHALLA, VATICAN, ELECTRIC PANCREAS, LEVER, AND VOICE
DAN RATHBUN – BASS, SLEDGEHAMMER DULCIMER, PEDAL-ACTION WIGGLER, COCKROACH, AND VOICE

 

The Book of Knots

A studio project based out of Brooklyn’s Studio G, The Book of Knots is the sonic equivalent of a bull in a china shop. The four core members grind out beautifully rough-hewn, dust-filled experimental rock songs, and then invite all manner of musical compatriots to add their voices to the mayhem. Our special guests have included Tom Waits, Mike Watt, Rick Moody, David Thomas, Carla Bozulich, Zeena Parkins, Jon Langford and Megan Reilley. The first CD, The Book of Knots (Arclight Records), is a waterlogged collection of songs chronicling mostly failed sea voyages. The second, Traineater (Anti-), is a portrait of crumbling mid-western rust belt towns. The third, Garden of Fainting Stars (Ipecac Recordings), was deemed the number 1 rock record of 2011 by Rock A Rolla magazine. A tribute to experiments in flight and space travel, it completes our trilogy: by sea, by land, by air, and features vocal performances by Mike Patton, Blixa Bargeld, Nils Frykdahl and Elyas Khan.

The Book of Knots is:

MATTHIAS BOSSI – DRUMS, VOICE, KEYBOARDS
JOEL HAMILTON – GUITARS
CARLA KIHLSTEDT – VIOLINS, VOICE
TONY MAIMONE – BASS

 

Causing a Tiger

“As I sleep, some dream beguiles me, and suddenly I know I am dreaming. Then I think: This is a dream, a pure diversion of my will; and now I have unlimited power, I am going to cause a tiger.”

— Jorge Luis Borges

Causing a Tiger is always an unpredictable affair, especially in dreams. The tiger may have the head of a fish, or the tail of a mouse. It may be green, or it may be covered entirely in buttons. In these inspirations and aberrations, all is revealed, nothing is sacred. This band never rehearses, but plays a rigorous, improvised set that at times sounds like devotional meditation, other times like a travelogue written while dreaming, and still other times like it might have been ripped from the pages of the American Songbook. Our live shows have been few and far between, but to us, have felt like picking up with an old friend from right where you left off. Our goal is to test the boundaries of expression and logic. We are, all three, hopelessly dedicated to each other both onstage and off. Regardless of the tenor of the music, be it gross or delicate, subtle or squirmy, we remain accepting and exposed to anything forged in the heat of sonic congress.

Our first eponymous album is a sonic travelogue weaving together field recordings made while on tour with other bands, and subsequent musical studio justifications. Our second album, How We Held Our Post, is a collection of songs we improvised into three microphones in an old farm house on Cape Cod.

“Causing a Tiger… went off the deep end in all the right ways… Textures were intermingled beautifully, and this group truly improvised as a collective… They created their own musical world in which they were all-powerful and which the rest of us could merely observe. It was quite an experience.

— Mathew Cmiel, New Music Box

Causing a Tiger is:

MATTHIAS BOSSI – KEYBOARDS, PERCUSSION, DRUMS, VOICE
SHAHZAD ISMAILY – BASS, GUITAR, PERCUSSION, ELECTRONICS, VOICE
CARLA KIHLSTEDT – VIOLIN, VOICE

 

Minamo

Minamo is a Japanese word meaning ‘the surface of water’. It is an apt moniker for my improvised duet with pianist Satoko Fujii. The pieces we create together move fluidly from one idea to another, and pull from a deep source of experience and influence. Our music lives at the place where openness and decisiveness, spontaneity and architecture meet. It is an exercise in concentration and clarity. It demands that we balance being present with each other and with our own thoughts, and that we both lead and both follow. It is an animated, yet subtle conversation that always surprises me, and there is always an underlying search for structure that emerges as we play.

Our debut cd, self-titled, on Henceforth Records, documents the very first concerts we ever played together, one in San Francisco, CA and one in Wels, Austria. Our second album, Kuroi Kawa – Black River (Tzadik) is a double-cd— a set of miniatures recorded in the studio, and a live performance at the Vancouver International Jazz Festival.

Minamo is:

SATOKO FUJII – PIANO
CARLA KIHLSTEDT – VIOLIN

 

Fred Frith’s Cosa Brava

Fred Frith has been an inspiration for musicians and listeners alike for decades. I’m no exception. Hearing Art Bears in 1990 was a seminal moment in my life. Little did I know that 20 years later, playing music with Fred would be a regular and wonderful part of my life, including reimagining the Art Bears Song Book with Dagmar Krause, Chris Cutler, Zeena Parkins and Kristin Slipp.

From the breadth of Fred’s musical output, it is clear that he is more interested in ideas and processes than he is in fixing an aesthetic identity for himself. Fans of Art Bears and Skeleton Crew have been patiently waiting for his next song-based band, and Cosa Brava is finally here. It’s a wonderful vehicle for his intuitive yet elusive melodies, intricate yet transparent rhythms, and wildly satisfying anthems. Both of our CDs Ragged Atlas and The Letter, were released on the Swiss label Intakt. There are whisperings of a third on the horizon!

Cosa Brava is:

MATTHIAS BOSSI – (DRUMS, PERCUSSION, VOICE)
FRED FRITH – (GUITAR, BASS, VOICE)
SHAHZAD ISMAILY – (GUITAR, BASS, PERCUSSION)
CARLA KIHLSTEDT – (VIOLIN, VOICE)
ZEENA PARKINS – (ACCORDION, KEYBOARD)
THE NORMAN CONQUEST – (SOUND MANIPULATION)

2 Foot Yard

2 Foot Yard was a songwriting collective. It began as my own personal experiment in what I could make with just my violin and my voice. Once I invited Shahzad and Marika to join me, with instrumentation that conjured both chamber group and rock band (violin, cello, voice, drums and guitar), we planted our little garden in the fertile cracks between art song and pop song.

We made two albums: Carla Kihlstedt – 2 Foot Yard (Tzadik) and 2 Foot Yard – Borrowed Arms (self-released).

2 Foot Yard is:

MARIKA HUGHES – CELLO, VOICE
SHAHZAD ISMAILY – DRUMS, GUITAR, VOICE
CARLA KIHLSTEDT – VIOLINS, VOICE