Volcano Insurance – Friday, February 11th. 7:30 pm
February 11, 2011
at Audio for the Arts
7 S. Blair, Madison WI
$7 at the door
Volcano Insurance is the brainchild of Madison guitarist and composer Luke Polipnick. Originally from Minneapolis, Polipnick formed the group in 2005 with longtime friend and drummer Joey Van Phillips, who managed to talk seasoned Twin Cities bassist Chris Bates into joining the fold. Oddly, the group didn’t coalesce until Polipnick moved to Nebraska, forcing them to develop a group sound in bursts when they got together several times a year to play shows in Nebraska or Minneapolis.
Volcano Insurance’s music covers a lot of ground. It can be aggressive, displaying the blustery free jazz skronk-rock of late Sonny Sharrock; but they are also romantics, just as likely to play a set of ballads. There is a quirky character to their ballad playing that evokes the music and guitar playing of Bill Frisell, a comparison that has been leveled at Polipnick’s playing for years, an influence that he accepts comfortably and unselfconsciously. He is fond of crafting long, through-composed pieces that weave together disparate themes, tonalities, feels, and dynamics, juxtaposing free blowing sections with intricate unison themes. The music of Ben Monder has been cited as a reference in this regard. All three members are also deeply involved with electronic music, an aspect that surfaces in Volcano Insurance performances in the form of lush, ambient pieces and angular drum’n’bass workouts. All three are post-modern jazz musicians, but regularly work in pop, alt-country, indie rock, reggae, and hip hop bands; Pretty normal stuff for jazz musicians nowadays, but somehow these guys manage to still sound like a band when they get together to play.
Despite all of their stylistic experiments, the music comes off as unified and developed, genuine and sincere; not pastiche or parody or imitation. Their performances are intimate and exhilarating experiences, made all the more so by their relative rarity. Don’t miss their upcoming Madison performance, it is only their third in two years and will be a live taping for an upcoming release.
Luke Polipnick – guitar, fx, compositions
Chris Bates – double bass, fx
Joey Van Phillips – drums/percussion