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Echo Pearl Varsity

PREMIERE: Wonka Vision - "Application"

Back in April of last year, the eclectic and commanding jazz heads of Echo Pearl Varsity won our Artist of the Month poll, a designation given to those local acts that sit high and esteemed in the hearts of local music appreciators. The jazz-fusion post-rock hybrid group is led by principle songwriter Sam Luna, who has momentarily shifted his focus onto his solo endeavors, recorded under the moniker Wonka Vision. Presently, much won't be found online, but that's why we're pleased to share the premiere song and video from Wonka Vision's debut solo album, titled "Application."

Luna directed, edited and starred in the sci-fi Netflix series Black Mirror-inspired video, based on the overuse of internet and cellphones, and how digital technology is essentially numbing society. "[Cellphones are] disrupting our daily lives, taking up useful hours and all together just rotting our brains," says Luna. "Through the digital world we refrain from human experiences, which cause us to be less social, more self-conscious and more depressed."

The ending of the video goes further to display this point, with one of characters caring more about her online persona than reality, which is how Luna feels most people are in the current age. He even titled the whole DIY album, which is due out February 23, as White Mirror.

Numb out to "Application" below and be on the lookout for the White Mirror drop later this month.

PREMIERE: Echo Pearl Varsity - "MmmHmm"

Echo Pearl Varsity were our April artists of the month for a reason. Their jazz fusion meets post-rock compositions are radically fresh and inventive, standing out in a music scene where garage and indie typically reign. The band is back with a new single, a cover track actually, paying homage to one of their favorite new age electro-jazz musicians.

"MmmHmm" was originally done by Flying Lotus featuring Thundercat, coming from his highly touted 2010 album Cosmogramma. It's the first single EPV will be releasing from an EP of cover tracks, due out in June before they out for their second west coast tour. A love and respect for FlyLo, the artists on his label Brainfeeder and a special adoration between EPV bassist Nolan Henderson and Thundercat were cited as reasons for choosing "MmmHmm" in particular, among other reasons.

"We chose this song to challenge ourselves, knowing it was a catchy track but surprisingly tricky to play," says saxophonist Levi Downey. "It took us about two months to get down, due to the deceptive melody super shredder bass-line. But, after some long arguments and rugged practice, it all came together."

Listen to "MmmHmm" below and be on the lookout for Echo Pearl Varsity's next covers. You can see them live on May 19 at the Twilight Cafe with The Welkin Dim, Wake of Dark for the Hawking album release.

Echo Pearl Varsity are our #1 players

Finding ways to make jazz even more ecclectic and interesting than it already is might seem a creative challenge. There are so many ways in which jazz commands attention that finding a way to make it individually intriguing requires some alternative approach. For Echo Pearl Varsity, Portland's jazz fusion post-rock hybrid group, that approach was near effortless and incredibly fitting.

It all started back in 2015, when lead songwriter Sam Luna, bassist Nolan Henderson and drummer Ian Taylor were working at a pizza shop together, yearning to add something original to Portland's (and, the general) music scene. Once they were joined by saxophonist Levi Downey, Echo Pearl Varsity was complete, and their sophisticated innovation of post-fusion came to be.

Their EP Tragic Bronson debuted their mellow yet mercurial production but their first full length, Fires, takes it to the next level. Establishing the band as leaders in this avant category, Fires shows EPV as masterful yet mallable and commanding yet flexible, with a willingness to flow with the orchestrative freedom post-rock and jazz allow. They'll be releasing an EP of cover songs in the next few months, coinciding with another tour.

Congrats to Echo Pearl Varsity for winning our poll and our hearts. Listen to Fires in full below. 


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