The Disco Biscuits: The Classical Set

Benjy Eisen on December 19, 2014

If modern vinyl represents the intersection of the old and the new, then the Disco Biscuits’ first foray into the format crosses that same time-stamped junction. The band wisely opted to make their vinyl debut a live archival release, but not only did they choose a classic set for the occasion, but they also chose a one-time only classical set, taken from a storied one-time only festival in 2003.

Here, we have music of the 18th century crossing paths with music from the dawn of the 21st. Symphonic selections from Mozart, Rossini and Tchaikovsky are ingenuously arranged for a four-piece jamband. Keyboardist Aron Magner adds subtle paint strokes of modern-day wizardry to the walls of ancient compositions. Then-drummer Sam Altman beats out all the bombast of a full orchestra. Removed from the Biscuits’ natural environment and presented out of context on vinyl, there are moments where it is easy to imagine these performances presented at Carnegie Hall or the Hollywood Bowl.

Guitarist Jon Gutwillig shows off his original composition, “The Overture,” sandwiched between Rossini’s “The Thieving Magpie” and Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” It fits. Taken from Gutwillig’s Hot Air Balloon rock opera, “The Overture” starts off sounding like something that could’ve been written by the composers of the pieces on either side of it, given proper reverse engineering. But instead of throwing back to the past, Gutwillig suddenly turns his gaze toward the future, as the song quickly evolves into an early version of the band’s patented “trance-fusion” strain of jamtronica that has seen them through to the present day. The set represents a bygone era, but mostly, The Classical Set is just a wonderful, inspiring listen.

Artist: Disco Biscuits
Album: The Classical Set
Label: Self-Released