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This Little Underground: Orlando music from Obliterati to Sales

: Live reviews from the Obliterati reunion, Sales




After this many years on the beat, I’ve learned that discovery of our city’s music history can happen backward as well as forward, I was around when Obliterati was active in the late ’90s, but I was young and into other things in other alleys of the local underground scene. However, as a reanimated piece of Orlando history with their first show in 15 years, the buzz surrounding their reunion (Aug. 17, Will’s Pub) registered pretty big on the local Richter scale.

Between insider intel and the things drummer Nadeem Khan told me (that they played and recorded with the Silver Apples’ Simeon as well as released on his label), Obliterati is clearly a pretty big deal in Orlando’s art-rock canon. That basic and vague idea was really the only thing I knew of them walking in, besides hearing from most accounts both written and verbal that live was really supposed to be where their truth was, so I went to meet it.

This seven-piece avant-garde motion machine gives no detectable shit about abiding any convenient stylistic boxes. With a rock arrangement edged by keys, strings and sax, their sound is stitched with wild hairs of free jazz, freak gypsy and other strands that, on paper, seem disparate. But with the anchoring pulse of a reliable groove, the unifying force is the urge to move. At its core, this is free dance music that’s organic, pre-electronic and left-field. To meet the occasion, it was driven with lots of energy. I don’t know what Obliterati sounded like back in the day, but they sounded good this night. Music has moved a good ways since they hung it up, but their spirit of experimentation endures.

Fun with five fingers: Photos from the Obliterati Reunion

Opening was Billy Taylor’s Horses on the Moon, a one-man project by a former member of experimental Athens group Melted Men. As highly conceptual work, noise projects are often interesting but not always intelligible. This was that rare beast that was both. Employing tape players, gadgets and novel trickery using simple electronic devices but no computers, his performance was very active and live. The only thing up there that was smart was the artist. For the ears, the most important thing about his performance was what it wasn’t: an unpunctuated racket. Instead, it was primitive, post-apocalyptic rhythm music with an absurdist sense of humor.

They’re not frequent, but I love that these history-lesson events happen in this city. Even better, I love that they happen in different and interesting genres. Collectively, they show the age and depth of Orlando’s heritage and reveal the longevity of our creative spirit (something that will surprise many of you). Tune in and they connect our past, present and future. I just wish there was more interest from the younger classes. It would make our scene deeper and more continuous.

The Beat

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