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Polyrhythmic 

Portland trio Human Ottoman brings an unexpected sound to Bend

Sometimes, a soundscape crosses your ears and you not only take notice, but you dance in a completely unabashed way. Once you've heard the music of Portland-based trio Human Ottoman, you'll know the feeling.

Not only that, but you'll be amazed that sounds this powerful can come from the combination of a cello, vibraphone and drum set. While you may have never thought to combine these instruments, Susan Lucia, Julian Kosanovic and Grayson Fiske did, which results in a chaotic, weird and amazing sound that can really make you scoot your boots.

"Grayson and I met in the percussion department in college," Lucia says. "We started playing as a duo forever ago on bass and drums. Then he found a sweet deal on a vibraphone at a used instrument store. Obviously, cello was the rational third instrument to be in our band!"

While so much music inspires the trio, polyrhythms shine through as the biggest influence. For those not in the know, polyrhythms combine the simultaneous use of two or more conflicting rhythms not readily derived from one another. At least two rhythms must be played concurrently and can be the entire basis of a song, or a momentary disruption.

"[The process for] each song is a little different," Fiske says. "Someone always comes in with an idea and we mess around with that idea, making many different versions until we find one that we like. Sometimes we compile voice memos into GarageBand."

Do a simple Google search for Human Ottoman and you'll find a number of descriptions trying to nail what they do just right. Adventurous. Boundary pushing. Groundbreaking. But for Lucia, her favorite description is refreshing.

"Ultimately, we are just creating music that we like to play, while keeping the audience in mind, of course," Fiske says.

Human Ottoman released its second album, "Farang," in 2015. The band currently has its third album in the works and they've excited about the direction it's taking so far.

"Listeners can expect new tones," Fiske says. "We are constantly playing with the possibilities and have learned a lot since 2015."

While expectations may be high after two refreshing and well-received albums, Human Ottoman has one major benefit — freedom.

"There aren't any rules for a vibraphone, cello and drum set trio," Lucia exclaims.


Human Ottoman & Third Seven

Thursday, July 13. 9pm.

The Capitol

190 NW Oregon Ave., Bend.

No cover.


About The Author

Anne Pick

Music Writer | The Source Weekly
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