Cog Nomen, Alien Vibes

Published on August 12th, 2015
Cog Nomen

Cog Nomen

When Brave Ulysses, the drummer for the Miami avant-electro duo Cog Nomen, is performing live, he’s accomplishing a lot more than tinkling the cymbals and thwacking the snares and thumping the kick drums. He mans his drum kit while at the same time creating synthetic bass lines, looping samples and sequences, and singing into a vocoder, which makes him sound like Ned on South Park. It’s a good thing he’s a skilled multitasker.

“It’s truly an act of choreography, physically almost like a dance,” he says. “It’s always a challenge to do all that activity at once physically and keep focused mentally as well in the midst of something as primal as hitting drums. I’m not really sure how I do it other than persistence, will, and a drop of innocent pride.”

It’s all in a gig’s worth for this duo, whose largely instrumental soundscapes—heavy on slow builds, repeated phrasing and mechanized rhythms—resemble nothing on today’s charts. A savvy promoter, though, would book them as Kraftwerk’s opening act when the Krautrock legends play the Olympia Theatre Sept. 29.

“The early German electronic music groups like Kraftwerk and cats like Tangerine Dream, Cluster, and really the whole krautrock genre are a large influence, particularly the spirit of experimentation and the sounds they pioneered,” Ulysses says. “Some of it seems a little sterile to me at times—hey, I’m a drummer and I also like music that involves elements of sweating, making faces and hitting objects, beyond the pressing of buttons!”

Ulysses formed Cog Nomen circa 2011 alongside the ubiquitous and impressively bearded guitarist Buffalo Brown, who runs his instrument through a loop pedal to create his own ethereal, otherworldly melodies. Even while watching perform, it’s hard to believe such a rich sound originates from just two players. Their songs capture nothing less than the enormity of outer space, occasionally sounding more like transmissions from SETI than rock songs—an observation that Ulysses appreciates.

“It is in some part intentional, but there is a large part of that bubbling up from un-conscious or sub-conscious influences, experiences, preferences,” he says. “I’ve been told that the large majority of the original music I’ve made or played on over the years has an ‘alien’ vibe, but really I’m as terrestrial as the next earthling. I don’t need to be dissected at Area 51!”

Cog Nomen invades Respectable Street Sept 12 as part of PureHoney’s 4 Year Anniversary Jam. In the meantime, check out the duo’s Kickstarter campaign and help Buffalo and Ulysses press their forthcoming Twin Stars EP; the fundraising effort runs until Sept. 6.
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~ John Thomason


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