I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I first encountered Algorhythm. After listening to their debut EP, I was immediately blown away by the seemingly controlled impulsivity of their sound. I was even more curious as to what kind of musicians could put out such a complex sound, music that seems to bounce from one instrument to another.
So when I met Alexander Lioubimenko on a hot mid-June Montreal day, I couldn’t wait to ask him how Algorhythm was able to bottle that kind of improvised live energy into a recording. The songwriter, keyboardist, and vocalist said that by adding in elements from other genres they have created a type of multifaceted sound.
“Probably the experimentation comes from a mix of jazz and the rock side of things so. If it was really just jazz my music would be completely different. I don’t think there would be that kind of mystique,” Lioubimenko said. Mystique is indeed important to Lioubimenko, especially since he draws on mythology and real life experience when writing the songs.
He went on to explain that free jazz is a bit closer to what he and his bandmates do, but that they also throw in elements of ragtime, rock, and others that would lend an interesting dynamic to their music.
Lioubimenko said that there is a kind of freedom that comes from letting himself improvise as a musician, something he attributes greatly to jazz, which he learned at the McGill Schulich School of Music. Though he said that the structure he learned was a bit more rigid, and that as a student it was difficult at the time to commit any dedicated time and focus to his own writing. But now, Lioubimenko is taking what he learned at McGill and is embarking on creating something that is uniquely Algorhythm’s.
But I was still fascinated by the idea of musicians improvising, of creating music on the fly and making it sound good.
“I’ll use the word interacting as opposed to improvising, because improvising kind of says that there’s one person playing and everyone else is just waiting. But in this case we actually interact with the musician. It’s kind of a conversation.”Alexander Lioubimenko of Algorhythm
“… the way jazz works is you basically have something written, and then once you play through that well then you improvise based on what you just played,” Lioubimenko said. “So I think it’s the jazz side that kind of allows us to improvise, which is cool because the music is always different. So even if like you come to the same show where we’re gonna play the same songs, well it’s going to sound different.”
Lioubimenko explained that generally the structure of the songs is the same, but the variation comes when a solo is extended or cut short. He called it a “structured chaos” that hinges on pre-planning and band members that are really in-tune with each other.
“We basically we predetermine where the improvisation is going to happen,” Lioubimenko said. “The only thing that we don’t predetermine is how long the improvisation is going to be. And so generally for that it’s either going to be like a musical cue, like something that the person plays or that I play. You know what actually I’ll use the word interacting as opposed to improvising, because improvising kind of says that there’s one person playing and everyone else is just waiting. But in this case we actually interact with the musician. It’s kind of a conversation.”
The focus on each other is also a focal point of their music videos, of which the first from the EP, “Why Now,” is due out any day now. But I was curious as to how this “structured chaos” could be adapted to a music video.
“It was easy to get the storyline down,” Lioubimenko said, “because since I wrote the lyrics and the music I really knew what the idea was, and depicting it visually wasn’t really difficult. The other thing is like I also wanted to show the actual musicians playing to. Me because I think that’s. It’s an important side of our music like to actually see what it looks like. So yeah we kind of did a mix of the two.”
There is another interested aspect to Algorhythm’s music: its adaptability.
“It’s pretty malleable,” Lioubimenko said. “I’ll give you an example: we’ve played with bands, like heavy metal bands, they played before us, then we play and it worked. Then we played with bands that were more like folk, same thing works. So since the music mixes so many styles it appeals to a large audience.”
Though while their music may appeal to many, their live shows are actually quite intimate. For music that is tailored to make the listener think, to enjoy the ride as the band flints through a song, Lioubimenko said that they generally end up mesmerizing their audiences.
Since music for Lioubimenko is about communication of things that cannot often be put into words, having an attentive audience is key.
“I think it’s the best way for me to feel free, but I also communicate my ideas and vision on whatever it is without words.”
Keep your eyes and ears peeled for Algorhythm. They have some new music coming out soon and are playing at La Vitrola in Montreal on July 28th.
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