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Frye, Rob: Exoplanet [VINYL] (Astral Spirits)

A sparkling album of electronics, synths and drums from Chicago composer and improviser Rob Frye, performed with cohorts from previous bands including Cooper Crain, Nick Ciontea, Daniel Quinlivan (all of Bitchin Bajas), along with improvisers Quin Kirchner, Ben Lamar Gay, Macie Stewart, &c; upbeat and sometimes introspective works of wonder and psychedelic excitement.

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product information:

Label: Astral Spirits
Catalog ID: AS155LP
Squidco Product Code: 30271

Format: LP
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: USA
Packaging: LP
Recorded at Decade, by Cooper Crain.


Rob Frye-compositions, woodwinds, synthesizers

Cooper Crain-electric organ, synthesizers

Daniel Quinlivan-synthesizer, electronics, wurlitzer

Ben Lamar Gay-cornet, wurlitzer

Tommaso Moretti-drums

Quin Kirchner-drums

Macie Stewart-violin

Nick Ciontea-synthesizer

Edbrass Brasil-wind instruments, voice

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Artist Biographies:

"Rob Frye was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri 1987 and grew up in St. Louis where he began playing guitar and saxophone. He moved to Chicago in 2006 to attend DePaul University's school of music where he graduated in 2010. Since then he has pursued the muse of sound along with the rest of the artistic community embedded in Chicago, and alternated his summers between working as a field biologist for the Institute for Bird Populations in California (2012, 2014, and 2016) and as a counselor/resident artist for Chicago Park District's culture arts and nature programs (2013, 2015, 2017, and 2018).

(from katharina ritter:) ...with synthesizer, flute, saxophone, clarinet, guitar and drum, Rob Frye is present in Chicago bands Bitchin Bajas, Cave, El is a Sound of Joy, and more. With his own project Flux Bikes, he also uses his bicycle as an instrument. The performance begins before the concert, riding to every appearance and continuing to experiment with dynamics, poly rhythms and loops. The tires tell of the journey between melody, noise and sound intervention. His collaborative trips range from the local to the international.

Rob has recorded professionally with a variety of musical groups, (, and is associated with Chicago labels Drag City, Thrill Jockey, and projects Circuit des Yeux, Jackie Lynn, Ben Lamar Gay and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith among others. Between the seasonal work mentioned above he works as a sound engineer and tours internationally with various projects."

-New Music USA (

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Cooper Crain is a Chicago keyboard player, leader of the band Bitchin' Bajas anda member of the band Cave with Dan Quinlivan and Rob Frye. He was originally from Columbia, Missouri. He has also been a member of groups Citizen Pain, The I Love You But I'm Not In Love With Yous, Warhammer 48k and Jackie Lynn. Crain also does recording, mixing and production work.

-Discogs (

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Daniel Quinlivan is a keyboard player, known for the groups Bitchin Bajas, Chandeliers, Mahjongg, and his work with Rob Frye.

-Discogs (

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"Ben Lamar is a prolific composer, vocalist, trumpeter, producer, and music educator. Lamar began his musical journey with the initial influence of his father's diverse vinyl collection and his family's unique music listening rituals. He has been creating music professionally for over 20 years now - performing, recording, producing for, and studying with a number of vital figures in the world of music, including Jazz, Blues, Hip-Hop and Electronic." (

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"Tommaso Moretti (he/his) is a drummer, composer and educator born and raised in Italy. He relocated to Chicago in 2013, and has been teaching drums and Gordon's Music Learning Theory (MLT) for over 10 years. He is also currently working as a freelance musician involved in different music scenes."

-Music House 9/13/2021

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"Quinlan "Quin" Kirchner (born December 14, 1981) is an American jazz and improvisation musician (drums, percussion).

Kirchner received lessons from the age of ten at the Academy of Movement and Music and Merit Music Program of Chicago. With a scholarship from the Basin Street Scholarship, he studied at the University of New Orleans at age 18 with Ricky Sebastian, Jason Marsalis, Troy Davis and Johnny Vidacovich. He earned a bachelor's degree in jazz studies and worked in New Orleans u. a. with Jeff Albert, Irene Sage and Ed Petersen. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Kirchner moved to New York City, where he received his master's degree at the Manhattan School of Music under John Riley graduated before returning to Chicago. There he works since then u. a. with Jeb Bishop, Daniele D'Agaro, AJ Kluth, Greg Ward, Dave Rempis, Matthew Golombisky and the formations flashing., From Beyond (inter alia with Katherine Young, Tim Haldeman), Zing!, Lucky 7s and Elliot Bergman's NOMO. In Germany, Kirchner joined Georg Gräwe and Tobias Delius as part of RUHR.2010 - European Capital of Cultureon. In the field of jazz he was involved between 2006 and 2012 in five recording sessions."

-Wikipedia (Translated by Google) (

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"At the age of 20, Macie Stewart has already had her first national television appearance on Conan O'Brian, played legendary festivals such as Lollapalooza and Coachella, and received a write up in Rolling Stone and the New York Times. This is just the beginning for her. She started playing classical piano at the age of three and found that music was her biggest passion. Known for her skills as a versatile keyboardist, she is also a singer, songwriter, violinist, and guitar player.

At the age of 15 Macie began playing in the Chicago band Kids These Days. Their diverse sound spanned between Jazz, Rock, Hip-Hop, and many other genres to create something unique and ear-catching. KTD brought the band recognition from many big names such as Questlove, George Clinton, and even Jeff Tweedy who helped produce their debut "Traphouse Rock"

Macie Stewart currently resides in Chicago where she plays gigs and teaches regularly. These days she finds herself playing with her own musical projects such as Sikiyadigo and her main focus, Marrow. She often plays venues around Chicago, and regularly teaches individual piano and violin lessons as well as ensemble classes."

-Hammond Organ Co (

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Nick Ciontea is a keyboard player, known for the bands Chandaliers, Bitchin Bajas, Verma, and his work with Rob Frye.

-Discogs (

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"A Brazilian sound artist and improviser, Edbrass Brasil works in many creative areas, especially as a radio artist, festival organizer, and manager of his record label. In his solo or small group performances, he uses unconventional wind instruments, along with extended techniques, sound collage and texture overlays, exploring the immersive drone climate in a microtonal environment, with references to the Brazilian Afro-diasporic universe."

-Edbrass Brasil Website (

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track listing:


1. Sunrise on Pruhina 03:42

2. XC175020 06:14

3. Innercosmos 03:34

4. Jupiter Control 06:29


1. XC222182 feat. Edbrass Brasil 06:56

2. Lightship Sgr A Star 06:45

3. Goldilocks 03:55

4. Sunset on Jgelu 01:42
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

"On Exoplanet, Rob Frye generates an atmosphere in which drummers and improvisers orbit synthesizers, inhabiting a Goldilocks zone of electronic and biotic components. Some of the tracks were created spontaneously or composed of strict loops, but two of the arrangements are melodic adaptations of the song of Musician Wren.

After working as a field biologist with the Institute for Bird Populations in California from 2012-2016, Frye began to slow down and transcribe birdsong, eventually developing a performative lecture called Hearing Hidden Melodies. "XC175020" and "XC222182" are not potential earth-like planets in another solar system, indeed they are individual birds recorded by Peter Boesman in the Amazon. This bird, known as Uirapuru in Brazil and La Flautista in Peru, reminds us of the mysterious sonic knowledge threatened on our very own home planet."-Astral Spirits

"Rob Frye spent much of the 2010s playing in Chicago's Bitchin Bajas, whose goofy name belies an affinity for immersive, outward-bound music more in keeping with acid trips in cathedrals than the bratty surf punk that their handle implies. If you believe that one of music's primary goals is to transport the listener from earthly concerns, you will find no more fuel-efficient vehicle to achieve this than Bitchin Bajas. As with the work of Terry Riley, Bitchin Bajas' music scans as both lysergic and liturgical. At their best, they make your head feel as if it's a sky-sized sponge for transcendent tones.

While Cooper Crain initially founded Bitchin Bajas as a solo project, Frye has proven himself a key utility player-the member who can pick up flute, guitar, sax, and synthesizer and add crucial coloration to the band's expansive creations. (He plays a similar role in Crain's psych-rock unit Cave.) After a decade of under-the-radar solo recordings, Exoplanet is the first relatively high-profile album under Frye's own name, and it showcases his grounding in jazz along with his proclivities for field recording and far-flung electronic sound design. Pursuing his interest in birdsong, he has gone so far as to transcribe it, a practice utilized in two pieces here. Frye is also enamored of sounds collected by NASA, which surface in the pivotal song "Jupiter Control."

With help from Bajas' Crain and Dan Quinlivan (synths), Nick Ciontea (synths), Ben LaMar Gay (cornet and Wurlitzer), and Tommaso Moretti and Quin Kirchner (drums), Frye sets out to travel the spaceways, madly and dutifully. (Bitchin Bajas covered Sun Ra's "Angels and Demons at Play" on 2017's Bajas Fresh, and Frye titled a solo LP Rafractions, to give you an idea of where he's coming from-and where he's going.) A woodwinds master, Frye also adds synthesized ingredients to the cauldron his mates stir up. You can hear the way they revel in experimentation on Exoplanet's "Innercosmos," a confusion of strange fizzing and burbling that's akin to the beginning of Tonto's Expanding Head Band's "Jetsex," but not as ominous. By contrast, "Sunset on Jgelu" offers a beatific, synth-dominated denouement.

But such rhythm-free spelunking is not Exoplanet's only thrust. Opening track "Sunrise on Pruhina" is a spiritual-jazz fanfare that heralds a new, beneficent ritual. Its upswirl of flute, cymbal splash, muted yet ecstatic sax, and restrained drum thunder sets the album's appropriately exploratory tenor. Similarly, "XC175020" marches purposefully into foreign territory with odd percussion tones somewhere between an unconventionally tuned xylophone and a synthesizer. Perhaps the unusual timbres derive from those aforementioned birds? It's an avant-jazz trip that sounds simultaneously earthy and otherworldly. So is the rugged jazz peregrination "Lightship Sgr A Star," with a synth riff that undulates and seethes mesmerizingly in the lower registers. The track comes off like a well-oiled machine that makes you feel both combat-ready and relaxed. Exoplanet abounds in such fascinating paradoxes.

The record's most far-out track is "Jupiter Control." Distinguished by an acidic, quasi-TB-303 chord progression and powered by militaristic beats that evoke Mani Neumeier on Zero Set, his groundbreaking 1983 album with Dieter Moebius and Conny Plank, "Jupiter Control" portends a future full of turmoil, triggering thoughts of unprecedented lifeforms. Frye created all of the synth sounds, then had Ciontea feed astronauts' voices through his modular; finally, he blended in ionosphere emission and space weather electromagnetic pulses sampled from University of Iowa Space Audio. Frye has a long history of mesmerising listeners by means of repetition and unconventional textures. With Exoplanet, he expands his palette-and listeners' minds."-Dave Segal, Pitchfork Media

Get additional information at Pitchfork Media
Related Categories of Interest:

Vinyl Recordings
Electro-Acoustic Improv
Improvised Music
Melodic and Lyrical Jazz
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
New in Experimental & Electronic Music
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