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Industrial Revelation: Toward an “Everything” Music

Industrial Revelation: Toward an “Everything” Music

Industrial Revelation: Toward an “Everything” Music

Industrial Revelation photo by Daniel Sheehan

By Andrew Luthringer

“When we first started playing, I thought, this is ‘everything music.’”

Industrial Revelation is not a musical entity easily pinned down, but keyboardist Josh Rawlings’ invocation of “everything music” points in the right direction. Rawlings and his bandmates Evan Flory-Barnes (upright bass), D’Vonne Lewis (drums) and Ahamefule J. Oluo (trumpet) joined me on a recent afternoon to ponder the myriad possible ways to define what this singular quartet is all about. Earshot’s John Gilbreath, who has championed the band since they first hit the scene, has a take: “To me, the genius of Industrial Revelation is its inherent ability to obliterate imagined walls between genres and camps of music lovers.”

Spend some time hanging with these creative co-conspirators and it’s easy to see the obvious affection and mutual respect they have for each other. As they crest their 10-year anniversary as a band (with no personnel changes), the members of Industrial Revelation speak about the group as a brotherhood, in almost spiritual terms. Flory-Barnes says of their first jam, “I thought we were just getting together to play and see what happens, but from that first moment, it was a ‘thing’…It just felt natural.”

The band has always functioned intuitively, without musical conflict. This is only possible when a very special chemistry is shared. Oluo explains, “Expressing yourself involves trust, knowing that people are going to be there to understand what you’re trying to express.…Everyone in the band is engaged as a primary partner in the music. That’s the way that every song has worked since we started.”

The band members all keep busy with a slew of sideman gigs, and Oluo also maintains a vibrant career in stand-up comedy and theater, but Industrial Revelation remains a central commitment for all four. Rawlings sums it up: “This music fed my soul and my heart.…We do have to juggle. It isn’t easy, but it is easy to say yes to doing music that we love.”

The spirit is only getting stronger – and to prove the point, the band has just released Liberation & the Kingdom of Nri, a two-CD set covering a dizzying rainbow of styles and moods. In an era dominated by short attention spans and YouTube plays, the notion of a double album is bold, almost a throwback. It’s a challenge issued, both to the artists creating it and to the listener. Industrial Revelation is clearly up to the task.

The “everything” notion pops up again, as Oluo elaborates: “There is a conscious attempt to make it an ‘everything’ album, to embrace that concept.…We’ve amassed knowledge, we’ve amassed material and history. We can present a big picture.”

The picture is wide-angle, and the album’s original compositions, contributed by all members, span genres and eras: anthemic and psychedelic rock flavors, tender piano interludes, string-laden soundtrack vibes and electronic textures, ‘70s vintage soul and fusion, and heartfelt melodies leavened with the timeless spirit of New Orleans. Lewis smiles knowingly, and puts it simply: “It’s a gumbo.”

What’s also notable about the album is that the band is clearly following their hearts, not chasing trends. Oluo says they approached collaboration “in a very non-analytical way. A very thoughtful way, emotionally, but we don’t really get into creating a ‘strategy’ to approaching a song.”

When we spoke, the band was preparing for a West Coast tour, and, for a unit that operates in a spirit of vibe and interaction, it’s no surprise that the live experience is spoken about in modes of transcendence. Rawlings says, “We want everyone to be involved. I don’t get super into the ‘woo,’ but you can’t deny an energy in the room, with the sonic vibration and people pouring love at you.”

Oluo chimes in: “We’re always searching for our own humanity on stage, and when you do that, you’re getting to the core of other people’s humanity.…If you find something real and you get it out, people will feel that.”

For an “everything” band like Industrial Revelation, finding the right venue can be a delicate art. There’s no obvious pipeline or well-worn path through a particular scene, and the band’s spirit of inclusion draws a varied audience.

“There’s not really an infrastructure for us,” says Oluo. “We don’t really fall under the jazz infrastructure, we don’t fall under the indie-rock infrastructure.”

Lewis adds: “People will say, ‘You should play here, this is a big venue.’ But is it a hang? Is it a good vibe?”

This search for the right vibe enables the band to be successful playing gigs in often-unconventional venues, from warehouses to shopping malls. As Oluo points out, “It doesn’t matter where it is, you can have a great show anywhere.”

The band is outward looking, but their commitment to the Seattle scene is palpable, and they pay tribute to the astounding range of Seattle music history. After invoking Jimi Hendrix, Quincy Jones, and Shabazz Palaces, Oluo elaborates, “There’s as much Alice in Chains in what I’m doing as there is Louis Armstrong! … I feel a bond to Seattle music. The grunge era was during my early teenage formative years – I usually wear flannel to this day! [laughs] To know the streets…to know the schools that those people came out of, there’s something special about that.”

Flory-Barnes adds, “All the eras of Seattle music, high points ranging from the Jackson Street days, the early days of jazz, to the Wheedle’s Groove days…that’s all in our music.”

Genre agnosticism aside, Industrial Revelation will no doubt continue to find themselves appointed as ambassadors to run the “jazz” gauntlet. This is a role well-cast: A durable and repeated band story is of fans telling them “they didn’t think they liked jazz, but are now inspired to dig in to other realms of the music.”

Oluo remarks, “We’re on the verge of a really interesting time for jazz. I was afraid of the label ‘jazz’ for a long time, and now I feel like I can embrace it again.”

Rawlings provides a final thought: “I think jazz in a sense is an ‘everything music.’ It’s more of an idea, of freedom of expression.…To be a vehicle to go deeper into any style of music that we really want to.”

Go deep with Industrial Revelation – it’s a trip well worth taking.

Industrial Revelation in 2016

January 2 – Neumos (Capitol Hill, Seattle)
January 23 – The Seasons Performance Hall (Yakima, WA)
January 30 – Timbrrr! Winter Music Festival (Leavenworth, WA)

Read the entire article here.

DJ Logic, Andy Coe, Pete Ciotti, & Wil Blades 11.5.15

Nectar Lounge

Seattle, WA

Words By Coleman Schwartz
Photos By Scott Shrader (J. Scott Shrader Photography)

Thursday night at Nectar Lounge in Seattle saw one of the venue’s most interesting bills in recent memory. Local contemporary jazz quartet Industrial Revelation started things off, and the headlining act was a super-jam between guitarist Andy Coe, drummer Pete Ciotti, organist Will Blades and DJ Logic.

Industrial Revelation brought a large contingent of fans out to catch their set. Nectar took on the vibe of a jazz club, with many patrons watching from the seats and those standing not pushed so tightly together. The band’s set was nothing less than prolific. The four musicians, drummer D’Vonne Lewis, bassist Evan Flory-Barnes, trumpeter Ahamefule Oluo and keyboardist Josh Rawlings, are each among the finest musicians in Seattle at their respective instrument. Within the first track, I was extremely impressed at how well the four of them could play together. They somehow found enough sonic space for all four members to solo simultaneously, while still sounding tasteful and controlled. They walked a fine line between symphony and cacophony; if just one of them had gone a bit overboard the results could have been disastrous at some points. They clearly all place a lot of trust in each other to teeter on this edge, and the gamble pays off big time.

When it came time for the first proper solo of the show, Flory-Barnes drove the crowd mad with his smoothly executed upright bass work. He made the instrument absolutely scream, and was able to use hammer-ons and pull-offs with a proficiency I did not realize was possible on upright. He made brilliant use of his high notes, always adding in the perfect harmonies to his previous lines, but never missing a beat in terms of driving the melody. He passed the spotlight to Rawlings, who wowed us with his refined dynamics and effects usage. As the crowd focused on his keyboard solo, Lewis tip-toed back into the mix behind him, their apparent psychic connection flooring everyone in attendance. As Flory-Barnes locked into a groove with Lewis, Rawlings continued his solo over the top, adding in lots of wah-pedal. Oluo sat this portion out, dancing heartily on the side of the stage. He rejoined the band briefly to close out the song, but you could tell he was due for an explosion later in the show.

The next song was the title track to their new album, Liberation & the Kingdom of Nri, titled “Liberation.” This tune was best described as jazz-influenced space-funk. Flory-Barnes moved the song along with his melodic bass work, occupying the traditional role of a lead guitar beautifully. Oluo truly got his chance to stand out on this track, with his soulful trumpet vibrato and trilling skills displayed front and center. As Lewis kept time, I was stunned at how well he managed to blur the line between human and machine. Rawlings coaxed spacey noises out of his keyboard, using only minimal effects. During this song, I kept thinking that we should send these four musicians into space to meet the aliens, as a representation of the great potential of the human race.

To follow this, they began a tune with a snapping intro from Flory-Barnes and some a capella work. As the whole band came into the mix, he and Lewis again displayed their ability to effortlessly lock into a tight groove. Flory-Barnes continued to impress with his pinch harmonics, and was visibly getting highly involved in the performance, looking almost possessed as he kept up with Lewis’s tempo. Lewis had the biggest smile on his face, you can tell that he takes an enormous amount of well-deserved pride in this project. Over this tight groove, Rawlings started to get extremely funky with the clavinet setting on his keyboard. The entire band was clearly ready to break free of their jazz mold and do something different. Lewis could be heard asking, “Where is Grace Love?!” To answer this question, she came onstage from the crowd. The rest of the band entered full-on funk mode, and she began to sing over them. The jazz audience at Nectar could not believe this was happening, and started to get a bit crazier. Her vocal lines interplayed perfectly with Oluo’s trumpet lines, carrying the melody and moving all of the fans to dance with extra vigor. As the jam slowed down and came towards its end, she embraced Oluo and left the stage.

At this point, the entire band had loosened up significantly since taking the stage. The next song featured an astounding series of full-band, syncopated stops that brought the focus back to the death-defying instrumental talent available onstage. The next track returned a bit to the space-funk territory, visited earlier in the show. Oluo’s trumpet playing absolutely stole the show here, as he went down to his knees to belt his expressive part out to the heavens. Flory-Barnes strutted around behind him, his bassline always keeping the listener guessing as to where it might go next.

The band stopped after this song, and appeared briefly to be finished with their set. The raucous reaction of the crowd quelled these notions, and the band members selected a final song to appease the audience. Flory-Barnes unleashed a barrage of notes that was seemingly endless, until it settled into a smooth quote of Radiohead’s “The National Anthem.” This quote continued, with spacey noise effects in the background from Rawlings, until Lewis and Oluo also joined into the cover. At this point, I was powerless but to scream at this unexpected cover of a personal favorite song. Lewis flawlessly reproduced Phil Selway’s chaotic cymbal work, while Oluo managed to nail the song’s horn part and Thom Yorke’s vocals simultaneously. Their version was complete with an improvised section in the middle, which was tied back into the song after a few minutes by Flory-Barnes’s subtle teasing of the bassline. Oluo eventually brought the song all the way back as he switched back to covering Yorke’s vocal part for a beautiful reprise of the main verse. This was the perfect cherry on top of their set, showing that these artists can handle anything from jazz standards to some of the most contemporary, jazz-inspired music out there. They are bringing groove-oriented jazz to the people in an accessible manner, and it makes me so happy to say that this is something you can only see regularly in Seattle. If you can, try to make it out to see their next show at the Seamonster Lounge on November 30, 2015.

Read the full article here.

2014 Golden Ear Awards Recipients

The 26th Annual Golden Ear Awards

Industrial Revelation at 2014 Earshot Awards

NW Alternative Jazz Group
Industrial Revelation

2014 seemed to be the year of Industrial Revelation. Not only did D’Vonne Lewis (drums), Evan Flory-Barnes (bass), Josh Rawlings (keyboard), and Ahamefule J. Oluo (trumpet) receive the 2014 Stranger Genius Award for Music, the cross-genre quartet also recorded a live album, headlined an Earshot Jazz Festival performance which was filmed for the documentary Icons Among Us: Jazz in the Present Tense, and earned attention from Seattle press as one of the city’s most exciting bands. Industrial Revelation’s boundary-breaking sound proves that jazz can cross be appreciated by a wide audience.

Read entire article here.

Industrial Revelation, Ted Poor, Coung Vu, Pete Rende

2014 Earshot Jazz Festival Preview
Written by Earshot and featured in their November 2014 Publication

This year’s winner of The Stranger’s Genius Award is a perfect frame for the cross-genre, cross-generation, cross-racial, cross-economic, ever-morphing magic that Industrial Revelation continues to create. The soaring amalgam of jazz, hiphop, indie rock, punk, and soul, is seamless, substantial, and enormously entertaining. The genius of this band is honest, open, and uncalculated. People dance at these jazz concerts!

The Seattle Weekly calls D’Vonne Lewis (drums), Evan Flory-Barnes (bass), Josh Rawlings (keyboards), and Ahamefule J. Oluo (trumpet) “effortlessly, constantly inventive.” Featured as one of “50 Bands Rocking Seattle Music Right Now,” Seattle magazine praised their live performance as a “sweat-inducing jam, with big horn crescendo’s, rapid bass solos, lightning strikes of keys and rolling thunder drums.” Industrial Revelation embodies the great Seattle jazz continuum; past, present, and future.

Read the entire article here.

Choice, Recent Local Releases (Oak Head CD Review)

12/1/13

Choice, Recent Local Releases (Oak Head CD Review)
Written by Bryan Lineberry, Earshot Jazz

“Industrial Revelation’s latest release, Oak Head, recombines the efforts of renowned, all-round-town musicians D’Vonne Lewis (drums), Evan Flory-Barnes (bass), Josh Rawlings (keyboards), and Ahamefule J. Oluo (trumpet) for a deeply sincere head-bopping, foot-tapping listening pleasure.

Much of the album has you slipping on your dancing shoes. “The Lake” puts an infectious upbeat rhythm into your body, pushed by Lewis’s swingin’ toms and Flory-Barnes’s jumping bass lines. “Saying Goodbye (to rainbow socks and hair dye)” shows IR’s willingness to step back and let their music breathe on its own. It’s that song you’ll hear in your head while driving home late at night, lost in reflection of events playing again and again in your mind’s eye, never wanting to let them go. The tune is by Flory-Barnes and manifests through an egoless, largely improvised line of musical communication led by the reflective flugelhorn of Oluo. Each member understands the weight of their own voices here and lets Lewis’s groove carry them from there.”