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Local Band Spotlight – Chaotic Formula Orkestra

Today’s tastes in music often run from the eclectic to the super-eclectic. It’s almost politically incorrect for music fans to like only one or two genres. A phenomenon of crossing genres has resulted from this, giving record labels opportunity to cross-market to a variety of target audiences.

For local band Chaotic Formula Orkestra, however, members of the band are happy if anyone digs the band’s “trip.”

“Basically, we’re not very popular,” said percussionist Emory Blake. “We don’t play music that most audiences want to hear … because all of us share one love, and that is new music.”

Chaotic Formula Orkestra, or CFO, is eclectic in only the most “artsy-fartsy” sense, as co-founder John Russell happily admits, who plays guitar, various electronics and samples.

CFO could seem semi-conventional at a quick glance, with co-founder Tom Kersey on cello and vocals, co-founder Will Pertz on bass and loops and Ryan Pate on guitar and vocals. But the band also features added wacky spice to performances and recordings, including sounds from a metal food strainer, a white noise generator, circuit- bending keyboards and an Atari 2600, among other gimmicks.

“Most of our pieces are purely avant garde,” Blake said. “Whether the piece is a written-out composition or purely improvisational, our goal is to just express ourselves as genuinely as possible.”

CFO’s latest release, Unreleased 1: Live at Sacred Grounds Sum 04, is a collection of the band’s various performances over the summer.

The band started out in the summer of 2003 with an even looser style, playing music that was mostly atonal during open-mic nights at various venues.

At that point, CFO’s rhythm and pitch fitted in only a strange way while melodies bloomed out from chaotic noise. Unreleased 1: Live at Sacred Grounds Sum 04 features the band at its tightest.

Sacred Grounds is a coffee shop on Busch that likes to feature local and national acts in a similarly alternative vein of CFO, in which the bands range in genre from folk to punk to avant garde.

“Some of our pieces are fun, upbeat and can be danced to,” said Blake, though he quickly puts this accessibility into the band’s context.

“There is almost always some sort of avant- garde twist thrown in to send the listeners for a loop.”

CFO maintains a quasi-’60s revivalist band- member policy, with six other members giving occasional contributions with more instruments, including the flute, trumpet, mandolin and piano.

“We all agree that music doesn’t have to be completely structured,” Blake said.

He furthered his point of view that “chaos can be beautiful. Though the majority of our audiences might not fully understand our music, what matters to us is that we try to promote the belief that sound itself is beautiful, even though it may not be fully through melody, harmony and rhythm.”

CFO played last night at Masquerade. No future concerts are scheduled.