By Isa Jones
By Mary Willson
By Brian Turk
By Drew AIles
By Taylor Boylston
By Bree Davies
By Emerald O'Brien
When Skull Flux, the visceral and heady Denver-based combo that trudged along for more than six years (and along the way snagged three nominations in various Westword Music Showcases), finally splintered for good two years ago, some suspected frontman Conrad Kehn couldn't stay quiet for long. And they were right: Soon after Skull's formal demise in 1999, Kehn, bassist Steve Millin and drummer Dave Hesker moved into the Yogurt Factory, a practice space that served as an outpost for a couple of different projects, including the now-evaporated Liquid and the Mystery Children, an improvisational ensemble led by Kehn and a revolving cast of musical characters.
"When we were booted out of Yogurt and Liquid dissolved, we all got kind of frustrated in waiting around," says Kehn, a part-time music professor at the University of Denver and the Community College of Denver. "My roommate at the time played, and Dave was still hanging out. I just said, 'Hey, why don't we start playing?' We started rehearsing once a month, not trying to write any songs. We just kind of jammed, and we recorded everything we did."
Those early recordings now serve as the pushing-off point for Kallisti, a project Kehn shares with Hesker and his aforementioned roommate/guitarist, Brandon Vacarro. With a name like that -- in Greek, kallisti means "the most beautiful" -- Kehn says his new project will have little in common with Skull Flux's brain-scrambling sounds, a notion evidenced by the recent addition of violin-and-cello aficionado Carrie Beeder, who has participated in some of Denver's more creatively inspired bands, including Room 40 and Gladhand.
"'Kallisti' is the word that was inscribed on the golden apple that started the Trojan War," Kehn points out. "So there's a little bit of mythology there. It all just goes along with the fact that, when I started Skull Flux, I was 21 and full of piss and vinegar. I'm not that angry anymore. I'm more interested in different kinds of expression. These days, I like to sing a lot more than I like to scream and yell."
Kallisti will not be easily mistaken for a chamber quartet, however.
"It will still have some teeth," Kehn says. "With all of the instruments that we have, it's kind of a Valium feel. We want it to be kind of swirly. The thing that I've been saying lately is that it's kind of like a casserole -- like if you took Portishead and stuck on the head of the Melvins and threw in some Radiohead and Tool for good measure."
According to Kehn, this shape-shifting dish will debut on a local stage just as soon as the band solves one irksome little logistical problem: It's in need of a bass player, preferably one of the female persuasion. (Ladies and others may e-mail vitals to email@example.com.) Interested parties are required to be musically fluxible.
Though it's been quite a spell since the Warlock Pinchers called it quits in the early '90s, the band's reputation as the city's pioneer of hip-hop, electro, funk and hardcore hasn't been quelled by time. And the Pinchers' impact is still felt locally in the intermittent, and always enjoyable, exploits of the Cherry Bomb Club, which enlists original Pincher Dan Wanush, aka Legendary. But for those who always wished, deep down, to try their hand at Pinching, a new compilation project helmed by former Warlock K.C. Ksum may be just the ticket. Ksum is inviting all of the band's "imposters," also known as "fans," to record their own cover versions of songs that appear on the three Pincher albums: Pinch-a-loaf, Deadly Kung-fu Action and Circusized Peanuts. According to Pinchers' publicist Charles Russell, producers are seeking both national and local talent to contribute to the compilation, which they hope to unveil sometime next summer. So far, he says, the Melvins are on board (no word yet on Portishead, Radiohead or Tool). Ksum will select tracks based on the talent, engineering prowess and status of the applicant band; only the most creatively interpreted tunes will make the cut. This could be a fun faux contest for local musicians who want to rewrite local history -- and those who just think it would be a kick to tweak the rhythm structure of "Morrissey Rides a Cockhorse." Deadline is December 31. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit warlockpinchers.com for more info (including advice on where to find those old records). Pinch away.
The planets must be aligning. That's one way to explain the one-night-only return of pH10, which headlines a multi-bill show at Club Sanctuary on Thursday, November 22. Ever since "Space Trucking Mogul" Clark ov Saturn and "Professional Speaker Killer" Recone F. Helmut (late of LD-50) left the Front Range for the newly hipsterized, brownstone-lined streets of Brooklyn, the electronic duo's appearances here have been rare. But that's not to say that all ties to the area have been cut. This summer, pH10 released its second full-length album, Quarks and Gluons, on local electronica indie Terraform Records; so far, the album has helped heighten the group's status in its adopted New York home as well as in progressive dance-music circles around the country. Live shows are a playful and irreverent blend of party-time ambience and vaudeville theatrics: Thursday's gig promises strip-tease performers, pulsating helmets, and vacuum cleaners serving as stage props. That's all topped by an original, vigorous form of drum-and-bass christened "fungle."
PH10 has proved itself to be one of Denver's most fun and upwardly mobile exports; we're just happy that the duo returns to the farm every now and then. Brought to town by the local New Vision America crew, pH10 appears with live acts Emptyhead and GloLab and drum-and-bass DJ Nightstalker. Welcome home, you strange boys.