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Thread the Kneedelus

Photo by Todd Cooper
Daedalus. Photo by Todd Cooper

L.A.-based instrumental jazz-rock outfit Kneebody and electronic producer and muttonchops enthusiast Daedelus are the kind of musicians who blow apart any form of genre classification. 

“For better or worse, we refuse to be pigeonholed in one sound,” explains Kneebody bassist Kaveh Rastegar of his band’s eclectic tendencies. “You’ll hear music that pulls from elements of EDM, jazz, indie rock and re-contextualizes everything with improvisation.” 

Having worked on the same fringes of electronic, jazz and generally uncategorizable music more than a decade, both Daedelus and the Kneebody crew inevitably crossed paths before. 

“Since the beginning, we’ve been friends with him and even did some shows with him, but nothing that organized,” Rastegar says. “We’d talked about doing an album, something more focused.”

That long-gestating collaboration at last came to fruition in November 2015 with the release of Kneedelus, which found a welcome home on Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder label. Beyond its mash-up name, the album offers a careful balancing of Kneebody’s cosmic post-bop with Daedelus’ touch for varied sonic textures. Getting that mix right, however, was a complicated process. 

“When we started recording, everybody came in with songs that were really formed, and I wondered what he was going to do with this,” Rastegar says. “It sounds like a Kneebody record, but [Daedelus] really deconstructed the performances and remixed it in completely new ways.” 

The new challenge for the Kneedelus-hybrid act is to recreate that balance onstage night after night. 

“As a band, it takes us out of our natural habitat — just putting someone else in the mix, you’re doing something totally new,” Rastegar says.

Now, after 10 years playing together, Rastegar hopes the producer’s presence onstage will push everyone in new directions. “We’ve been together for a really long time, which forces us to get into the more open improvising that we used to do when we started. Getting into that level of uncertainty is really fun and also really challenging.” 

As for what Daedelus brings to the mix: “He’s so great at making music happen with bits of sound, so it’s nice to have that power to hand things over to him, with all the tools he has at his disposal.”

The band will have only played a handful of shows as Kneedelus before heading to WOW Hall this Sunday. “We’ve been amazed at how big it can sound, and also how we’ve gotten it to beautiful, moving sections,” Rastegar says. “This isn’t a Kneebody show, or a Daedelus show; it’ll be a thing on its own.”

Oakland-based multi-instrumentalist and electronic artist Naytronix opens for Kneedelus 9 pm Sunday, Feb. 21, at WOW Hall: $20 adv., $25 door.