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When it comes to seminal albums in alternative rock, Pixies’ 1988 debut Surfer Rosa qualifies as a true game-changer. With strong production and even stronger songs, the album tore a rift in the rock ‘n roll continuum, influencing everyone from Kurt Cobain to Radiohead.
That influence remains as steadfast as ever among the feverish minds behind Asphalt Orchestra, the 12-piece New York-based marching band with an eclectic ear for new music and boundary-blurring arrangements. The band’s unpredictable repertoire includes the music of Goran Bregovich, David Byrne, Frank Zappa, Charles Mingus, Tatsuya Yoshida, Meshuggah, Yoko Ono and more, so it’s only fitting they should choose to tackle a boisterous, at times even downright ornery noise-rock classic, right?
And tackle it they do. From the rambunctious opening cut “Bone Machine” to the off-kilter, otherworldly arrangement of the radio hit “Gigantic,” AOPP remains true to the punkish attitude of the original while exploring the rich melodies that underpin these alt-rock classics. In fact, Pixies frontman Charles Thompson (a/k/a Black Francis) was so taken with the project that he invited the band to join him and Pixies on tour for two popup dates in early 2014. (At the famed Capitol Theater just north of Manhattan, fans expressed their glee by singing along with Asphalt’s version of “Bone Machine.”)
Intrepid, energetic and unconventional, AOPP touches a nerve that connects rock and new music — a daring brew lauded by the New York Times as “...quirky, funky, inventive and idiomatic.”