The Lineup


Chris Forsyth & Koen Holtkamp

Philadelphia, Penn.

It would probably be disingenuous to call the recent pairing of Chris Forsyth and Koen Holtkamp a "supergroup.” Consider, after all, the below-the-radar reputations of both players and the fact that they're a duo more than a group. They don't go by a name other than their own, and they lack the necessary guff-bloat on their Blackest Rainbow debut, Early Astral, to qualify for the "self-indulgent" stamp. But we live in a generous age of killing-it/must-hear-it-now overpraise, right? Together, Chris Forsyth and Koen Holtkamp form a supergroup.

Based in Philadelphia, Forsyth has built a career as a 21st-century outré guitarist, releasing numerous solo jaunts, spitting out recordings with Peeesseye (including many on his own Evolving Ear label), and serving as an inside session dude on discs like Meg Baird's Seasons on Earth. His most recent solo releases are Dreams and Paranoid Cat, both issued by Family Vineyard last year. Koen Holtkamp, meanwhile, co-founded the electronic drone duo Mountains with Brendon Anderegg in 2005. He has since made music with dozens of collaborators in the art/electronics ether, as well as with his own bad self, including In The Absence of Gravity Please Note the Position of the Sun/Loosely Based On Bees (Thrill Jockey, 2011). That album combined live and studio performances into one sweeping electro-acoustic vision.

Early Astral takes the pair's common kosmische dreams and spins a pair of sid-long incantations that find a percussionless cosmic rhythm well beyond the horizon, somewhere between drums and space. Part head-spinning drift-out, part improv session, Early Astral is the kind of music that finds emotion at the edge of form. Both committed to a range of other projects, Forsyth and Holtkamp rarely perform live together. However briefly, they will intersect on the Earthly plane at Hopscotch. —Jesse Jarnow