Mystical would be one way to describe it.
Different would be another.
But experimental is the best way to detail the music of four tenor saxophone players who will be bringing their unique style to the Okanagan.
“It’s literal singing through the mouth piece… and using specific fingerings to create a resonance,” said composer Travis Laplante.
Based out of Brooklyn, New York, Battle Trance is performing for their first time in Kelowna as the sixteenth instalment of the Skin And Bones Music Series at Kelowna Forum, Jan. 29.
Laplante creates his unconventional music by “unlearning the rules” of the traditional form.
He desired to bring a meditation-like quality to his pieces and sits with his saxophone, meditating with it to “introduce the saxophone in a way that doesn’t have boundaries or expectations. It’s throwing myself into the unknown with sound… and allows ears and heart to stretch in a way.”
The sound is unusual, as four tenor saxophones carry an almost bee-like sound, as the musicians meld with their instruments in a combination of fast-paced rhythms and slow hums.
It isn’t meant to be understood, but felt.
Each member of the band has an “a deep and unspoken understanding of the music,” said Laplante, which keeps them grounded in the unconventional style.
It’s almost spiritual. “People who devote their lives to music have a spiritual relationship with music,” he said, noting he isn’t pushing spirituality onto others and his bandmates, but rather promoting feelings and connection.
Band members Jeremy Viner, Matt Nelson, Patrick Breiner and Laplante formed in 2012, after Laplante sought out each musician to collaborate on a project.
Laplante remembers their first meeting, after they held a clear, long note together he decided he wanted to keep working together.
“I had a strong feeling that I wanted to start a band with Jeremy and Matt and Patrick. I wanted to be with these particular guys.”
As a collective band, with four saxophones dissolving into one sound, Laplante said Battle Trance was a fitting name.
The name came to Laplante as it does with other names for his pieces–randomly. It wasn’t until he Googled the phrase that he discovered the meaning.
“Battle Trance came in and it felt right. (It’s) the state where warriors are able to abandon personal desires for a greater (cause). It’s has a powerful resonance, our own individual identities dissolve into a greater collective. It’s a very unAmerican ensemble in a way.”
He noted this contrasted his feelings earlier in the interview with Capital News, as he sought these particular musicians to form a band, but describes the music as “human, there’s something primal about it.”
Their latest album, Blade of Love, released in August 2106, took seventh place in the Rolling Stone’s 20 Best Avant Albums of 2016 which Laplante appreciates.
“(With myself) there’s cynicism sometimes and I will not expect much, but it gives me hope and faith that if the music is true, (people will listen).”
Having been to Vancouver numerous times, Laplante is looking forward to spending time in other areas of B.C.
“It’s exciting for all of us,” he said.
Doors open at 7:30 p.m. To find out more about Battle Trance visit their website.
General admission is $20 and $15 for students and Alternator members. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at Milkcrate Records on Ellis Street or at the Alternator located inside the Rotary Centre for the Arts.