The local Kalamazoo music haven Satellite Records hosted their fourth annual Already Dead Family Reunion Wednesday the 24 through Sunday. Each night consisted of performances from musicians of various communities, and headliners included Cellular Chaos, Chris Brokaw, and Forget the Times. It ended with a free jazz bang Sunday night film when a mixed bag of avant-garde artists interpreted the sounds to the 1920 German silent horror film, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
Already Dead showcased a motley style in music. “Most of the bands playing are on more of an experimental end of the spectrum, but within that I try to represent as many different genres as possible,” said Sean Hartman, co-owner of Satellite Records and coordinator of the reunion.
“There will be stuff that’s a little more folk-based, stuff that’s a little more electronic, stuff that’s more rock or jazz based, but it’s usually the more experimental versions of all of those,” he said.
Beyond local artists, the event showcased a number bands who have “never played Kalamazoo before or who wouldn’t normally visit the town,” Hartman said. He urges his audience to be open to hearing what they may have never heard before.
Cellular Chaos from New York City is a self-proclaimed “guitar freak-out band” that brought progressive rock theatrics to the Satellite Records’ stage. They adorned quasi-tutu wedding veils, tribal-print leggings, and clunky black liner. Lead singer Admiral Grey epitomized what Hartman meant when he said “experimental.”
Grey mesmerized an audience with a voice of dramatic angst, and she held staunchly to her mantra that “physical interaction is just as essential to provide your audience with energy and expression.”
This dedication to the creative spirit is an ideal Hartman and the visionaries behind the Festival hoped to preserve.
“I am always most interested by music that is made for the sake of creativity and for the artists themselves,” said Hartman. “When I feel like an artist is making music just for the crowd or for people to like it, that is their own decision and that’s totally fine, it just isn’t something that appeals to me.”
On the final night of the event, Forget the Times (of which Hartman is a member) performed in musical accompaniment to the German silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
What is truly a work of discordance and chaos in and of itself was able to evolve into something even more intentionally off-putting through the artists’ rejection of time signature and atmospheric sound.
Daniel Michelin K‘18 voiced his interpretation of Forget the Times’ juxtaposition of music and film: “The interplay between the two different art forms, an old movie accompanied by modern ambient music, contrasted each other to remind us that times have changed.”