American Contraband: Alternative Rock and American Experimental Music

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For almost two decades now, the Sun City Girls have done the nearly impossible. Even now, each release is a beguiling surprise from nowhere. Free-association jazz, howling cries, bizarre folk songs, even stranger children songs all add up to a question mark without any discernable answer. But that’s what makes the group so one-of-a-kind and always fascinating.

This Portland-via-Arizona trio (who aren’t girls) maintains a low profile that usually keeps them out of the public eye. To hear a Sun City Girls record is to wonder if any group of people could or should be doing this. Producer/collaborator Scott Colburn explains SCG as a band that creates music by listening to each other. “They have developed “improv ears” over the course of their career which allows them a kind of mind link with each other.” Bassist Alan Bishop sees that the music of SCG comes about mostly from neglect: “We don’t function like ‘A BAND.’ Our work represents the loose nature of our agenda at large… that we rarely rehearse but just play and there are no restrictions to how our personal interests integrate into the actions of our endeavors. As long as we feel we are challenging ourselves, then I think we can manage to collectively continue to portray our forms of energy for a very long time.”

This kind of freedom also means that ‘musicianship’ isn’t high on their agenda when they are pursuing their own musical vision. Bishop explains: “The last thing I would want to do would be to LEARN how to play an instrument! I would rather re-invent something instead of paying homage to forms already established. Creating my own reality, even if it means NOTHING to the rest of the universe, is infinitely superior to living someone else’s idea.”

From American Contraband: Alternative Rock and American Experimental Music
By Jason Gross and Steve Smith
© 2000 NewMusicBox

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