The New Cool: Exploring with Seattle's Hunter Gather

Dec 8, 2017

Warm up your genre blender for Seattle's Hunter Gather. Described in various hyphenates as avant-jazz, post-rock, folk-jazz, and their own "post-sad-jazz-rock", this quartet draws musical inspiration from all over. These descriptors are fun to read, but they only begin to describe the creative exploration Hunter Gather undertakes on their new, debut album, Getting to Know You.

The band was formed in early 2015 by sax player and composer Levi Gillis, and now features Ronan Delisle's electric guitar, Evan Woodle on drums and percussion, and the baritone guitar of Alex Oliverio. The new album, released on the adventurous Seattle label Table & Chairs, also includes Cameron Sharif on piano and electric keys.

Though Gillis is the main composer for Hunter Gather, he says the band's arrangement process is very collaborative.  "I hand-write all my pieces for this band, and they’re usually pretty bare bones. This is by design though. I really want each member to have tons of freedom to contribute their own identity as musicians and to shape the pieces in ways their intuition and sensibilities are suggesting."

This collaborative contribution approach produces a focused intensity.  Each song has the dreamy quality of hearing a strange fairy tale for the first time. On this week's show, you'll hear "I Want to Be an American", a deliberate composition that reminds me of the delicate interplay of the Seattle-born trio Tyrant Lizard.

It's a gentle, Sunday stroll through Americana - close your eyes and you can imagine this music as travelogue soundtrack for a dramatic American landscape. I'm picturing Mt Rainier seen from a sailboat on Puget Sound, you might think of Appalachian forests or the Mississippi River flowing into the Gulf of Mexico.

Each song takes its own path. A busy day in the coal mines, slow rolling traffic jams, a sidewalk coffee shop conversation are just a few of the impressions I had listening to this fascinating, fresh album.

Don't miss the band live at Neumo's on December 28th, sharing a diverse bill with the impressively complex folk-pop of Tomo Nakayama, the dramatic electro-pop of Briana Marela, and world-class NW cellist Lori Goldston's free-improv duet with drummer Chris Icasiano. A more intellectual collection of beautiful music would be hard to imagine.

The New Cool airs Saturdays from 3 to 5pm, hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, WA.