The Key Studio Sessions: Orion Tango

From expressive contributions to King Britt’s Back to Basics house band in the 90s to work with UK singer-songwriter David Sylvian (of the new wave outfit Japan) and his duo with acclaimed poet Ursula Rucker, Philly guitarist Tim Motzer is no stranger to constant collaboration. His latest project matches him up with two very like minded musicians in an experimental power trio they call Orion Tango. Continue reading →


Travel across sonic landscapes with Philly experimental guitarist Tim Motzer’s new project Orion Tango

Orion Tango performing at the NJProghouse Progressive Music Series | Photo by Bill Fox
Orion Tango performing at the NJProghouse Progressive Music Series | Photo by Bill Fox

Experimental guitarist Tim Motzer has proven that there is no genre of music he’s unwilling to explore. The adventurous and innovative Philadelphian has collaborated with a diverse range of figures over the years, ranging from jazz guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel to spoken-word poet Ursula Rucker. The result is a catalog of music under Motzer’s 1K Recordings label that is as unique as it is unpredictable.

HIs newest project is Orion Tango, a three-piece featuring Motzer on guitar, Jeremy Carlstedt on drums, and Barry Meehan on bass. The band just released their self-titled debut album, a deceptively large collection of five tracks that clocks in at nearly fifty minutes long. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Delorean and City Rain at Morgan’s Pier, Douglas Thomas at The Fire, Evening River Band at Kung Fu Necktie

Photo by Nacho Vidal via

Spanish dance group Delorean plays a free show at Morgan’s Pier tonight. Last year, the group released its second album, Apar, produced in the band’s private studio in El Poblenou. The title is a Basque term that means to froth or foam. The sounds in the album, a very minimum instrumentation and vocals, has a feeling of being destroyed yet remaining strong. The band released a playlist of some of the fantastic remixes they’ve done this year, as well as a warped video for “Unhold” featuring Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek. They will be joined by Philly’s City Rain, who were featured on the Key’s Unlocked Series. Similar to Delorean, City Rain recorded its newest album High School Dance near a family shore house. Catch both bands for their free show at Morgan’s Pier. Get more details at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


Tim Motzer celebrates improvisational Live From Stars End at Johnny Brenda’s

Tim Motzer
Tim Motzer | photo courtesy of the artist

Tim Motzer’s guitar is an infinitely adaptable piece of machinery. He regularly wields the instrument in a staggering variety of contexts, always fitting in with whatever genre he finds himself recruited for, while also warping it just the right amount to spotlight his inventive individuality without muscling his way into the spotlight. Of course, it helps that the artists he chooses to collaborate with are all on the eccentric or at least envelope-pushing end of the spectrum in their own fields, from Ursula Rucker to King Britt to Kurt Rosenwinkel.

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King Britt, Dozia, Questlove and the Back2Basics family had a high-energy reunion at Hard Rock

DJ  PHSH, King Britt and Questlove | Photo by John Vettese
DJ PHSH, King Britt and Questlove | Photo by John Vettese

The first time I heard King Britt was over the sound system of the HMV on Walnut Street back in 2001. I knew of him via City Paper and Philadelphia Weekly stories about Back2Basics, the party he and DJ Dozia threw at Silk City (which I was never cool enough to attend). The song coming from the speakers was “Happiness” featuring Lady Alma, and it blew me away. I immediately walked over to the Dance section, found the album under his moniker of Sylk-130 titled Re-Members Only” and skimmed the track list and collaborators: Alison Moyet, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Kathy Sledge, Grover Washington Jr.

It was a love letter to sitting at home on a Saturday night and listening to stations like Power 99 who, back in the 80’s, would play everything from quiet storm to rap to Madonna. It’s an album that still is miles beyond most in capturing that time for listeners who missed out.

When I heard there was going to be a Back2Basics reunion, I was itching to go and finally experience what I never got a chance to back when the event was a regular thing. Continue reading →


Two Guitarists Exploring Together: Tim Motzer and Kurt Rosenwinkel launch Bandit 65 tonight at Underground Arts

Bandit 65 | courtesy of the artist

Guitarist Tim Motzer was trying to make his way offstage at a club in Zurich, Switzerland, weaving through a crowd of people after a 2008 gig with hip-hop and spoken word artist Ursula Rucker, when a persistent voice kept calling his name. “Finally, somebody grabbed the back of my shirt,” Motzer recalls.

Motzer turned and found an enthusiastic audience member whom he didn’t immediately recognize, still intent on relaxing backstage. As it turned out, the man complimenting his guitar playing was not just any fan, but jazz guitar great Kurt Rosenwinkel. The two axemen quickly formed a friendship and spent the next several years discussing the possibility of a project together.

Those conversations eventually took them into a Brooklyn studio, where they recorded the self-titled debut of Bandit 65, their new trio with drummer Gintas Janusonis (who was also on that gig in Switzerland). The three will reform for their first ever live show on tonight at Underground Arts with visuals by Motzer’s longtime collaborator, multi-media artist Dejha Ti.

Writing via email, Rosenwinkel calls Bandit 65 “a free improvisational experimental soundscape multidimensional textural psychedelic groove monster… with soul!” That about captures the range of mesmerizing sonic territory covered by the album’s half-dozen lengthy excursions, culled from nearly six hours of music recorded in that one day’s session. The music varies from the album’s most jazz-like track, the fusion haze of opener “Ever the Horizon,” to the dub-accented psychedelic haze of “The Cycle,” through the evocative, sinuous 17-minute “Lost Temple” and the wall of sheer noise that envelopes “Racing the Precipice.”

The trio may come as a surprise to fans of Rosenwinkel’s sleeker, tighter jazz playing. (He’ll be in more familiar territory the following night, when he guests with Orrin Evans’ Captain Black Big Band at World Café Live. According to Motzer, “Kurt has a massive jazz audience and we’ll certainly be getting into that kind of thing, but I think we’ll be exploring some other realms as well.”

Exploring multiple realms is familiar territory for Motzer, whose restless imagination and inventive guitar playing takes him from electronic soundscapes to sharp-edged hip-hop and raucous jazz-funk, among various others. He also regularly collaborates with dancers and choreographers at the University of the Arts. Continue reading →