Old Time Relijun isn't a band that lends itself to pat descriptions. Even Arrington De Dionyso, the leader of the Olympia, Washington noisemakers, has a difficult time describing the sound. "There are so many ways of putting it," he says, before taking a long pause. "We make music that manages to perform a kind of alchemy with opposites and extremes. We combine beautiful sounds with ugly sounds. Our songs present something that is very sexy and very scary at the same time. It's almost like an erotic tension of opposites that pull and push against each other."
In the early '90s, De Dionyso started recording music on a four-track machine in his bedroom and released cassettes on his own label. In 1995, a pair of musically compatible pals started helping out on assorted instruments and Old Time Relijun was born. "We're conducting our own type of electricity in the performances," says De Dionyso. "This might not even be about the music, but the energy that's being conducted."
The dozen tracks on 2012, the band's latest album, feature lots of free-form guitar riffs and sound like something birthed in an unconscious state. But don't mistake all the arbitrary tonal blasts for disorder and lack of structure, cautions De Dionyso. There's a method to his musical madness especially onstage, where, despite the lack of set lists, songs play out pretty much as planned. "We have some pieces that leave room for improvisation," he says. "But we're very well rehearsed."
Another springboard for De Dionyso's aural explorations is the studio. Songs are rarely finished by the time the trio (which expands to a quartet in concert with the addition of a sax player) begins recording. Like his top influences free-form jazzman Ornette Coleman and freak-out rocker Captain Beefheart De Dionyso lets the work set its own direction once the tape starts rolling. "The studio is our creative playground," he says. "It's usually Oh, this is what we came up with, and it sounds like this.'"
Sun., May 28, 2 p.m.