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Standout Track: No. 1, “With Beaks and Feathers We Saw Bodies Floating Upstream,” which is, incidentally, the only song on the CD-R. Clocking in at exactly 33 minutes, the single track collages home-studio improvisations and live recordings into a slowly evolving psychedelic epic complete with drones, bird noises, and the best use of electronic-flute sounds this side of Popol Vuh.
Musical Motivation: Despite its mix-and-match structure, Stymphalian Birds’ music is designed for smoothing out rough edges. “I kind of look at it as shoegazing-easy-listening-crunkness,” says Adrian Varallyay—a 26-year-old D.C. native who’s Stymphalian Birds’ sole constant member—when describing both this composition and his band’s overall vibe. “It’s kind of music to help you zone out, or chill out, or calm down from the daily bustle.” So it’s New Age music? “It’s not quite Yanni,” he insists. “It’s calming—but tinged with sadness.”
Pole Position: Live, Varallyay improvises most of Stymphalian Birds’ music by running a bass and a steel pole—used as percussion—through foot pedals to create bizarre electro-acoustic ambiances on the fly. “I have a vocabulary, and I bring what I can to the table,” he says. “Sometimes I have things in my mind, [riffs] that I’ve done before, but all of the arrangements are spontaneous.” Still, Varallyay is a little self-conscious about getting too deep into improv rhetoric. “I don’t want to over-intellectualize it,” he says. “I just like fucking with stuff.”
Stymphalian Birds plays the Velvet Lounge Tuesday, July 8.