Aligning Minds at Moogfest 2014
Aligning Minds’ expansive performance on the New Earth stage at Moogfest this year was a fitting end to a wild ride of a Thursday. The show, which included artists Michael Folk, Daniel Merrill, and Matthias Sayour on live percussion, also featured visuals from the band’s graphic designer Rudy Zaborowski and a performance by belly dancer Kristi Wrolstad, who matched sensuous, organic movement to the pulsing beats of the set.
The group’s focus on communicating beauty and truth through layered, sweeping soundscapes creates an atmosphere where bass brings you into harmony with the music on a visceral level. Aligning Minds is really all about harmony. The group “facilitates a place for friends,” according to Folk. “We have the concept that it’s a revolving door, an organically growing participatory group.” People have come and gone over scores of performances, but each has brought “what they do best.” Wrolstad is part of this natural evolution. “We’ve been incorporating dance for a few years, and Kristi is making a commitment and coming on board with us,” says Folk. “We’re trying to focus on building more of a production around the music to make it a total package. We have big ideas.”
The core members of Aligning Minds are Folk and co-producer/composer Daniel Merrill, who grew up together in western Maryland. “We were the only people in 300 miles who knew electronic music existed,” says Merrill. Their early interest in technology and composition eventually evolved into Aligning Minds in its current iteration. The music explores moods and emotional states more than anything, resisting classification in one specific category or another but weaving in elements of dubstep, IDM, breakbeat, downtempo, glitch, and techno. Sayour adds a live element to the group’s shows. “I lock up with the ideas they’ve laid down,” he says. “I try to articulate it and give it a live dynamic by bringing out nuances and textures they’ve created.”
The show’s visual component, a 3D mapped stage designed by Zaborowski, matches the hypnotic rhythms of the music. Through Zaborowski’s visual studio, TWENTYSEVEN FOLDS, where he co-creates with his girlfriend, Christina Melton, Aligning Minds is currently planning a month-long residency with Asheville Music Hall. They are also producing a series of events every Thursday in July called “The Visionarium,” which will bring “local talent and big hitters,” including Nightmares on Wax, to Asheville. Another event series, “Waveforms,” is scheduled for Saturdays in September at Asheville Music Hall.
“We love Asheville,” says Sayour. “It has a small-town aspect that supports networking and connection, and it has an energy. People are a lot more open to new and fresh ideas than they might be in a larger place, where experimentation could be overshadowed by productions with more money.” The group members see Moogfest as a powerful opportunity for experimentation and growth that has already led to “an openness to new, fresh ideas,” according to Folk.
Besides their plans in Asheville, Aligning Minds will be touring the US and British Columbia this summer. They also have a new album in the works.