High Castle Teleorkestra (HCT) is a remote music ensemble whose members have played/collaborated with multiple ground-breaking bands including Estradasphere, Mr. Bungle, Farmer's Market, Umlaut, Probosci, I.S.S., Don Salsa, Traun and more. After 2 long years of meticulous production, HCT's debut album, The Egg That Never Opened (Radio Free Albemuth part 1), is finally being released by the Art As Catharsis label in June 2022. It will be available in standard download formats as well as a gorgeous 180g 2x12" 45rpm double LP, 20 page-2CD digibook, and deluxe options that include 40+ bonus tracks, a t-shirt and other exclusive content. The album traces the narrative of the discarded novel Radio Free Albemuth by famous sci-fi author Phillip K. Dick, which will be increasingly explored in HCT's music videos.
Comprised of middle-aged collaborators scattered about the globe making touring less likely, High Castle Teleorkestra focuses on superbly produced, enigmatic recordings. The diverse skillset of the various members traverses a wide landscape of musical learning from jazz, classical, rock, doo-wop, avant-garde, metal, various international folk music and more. The group is spearheaded by a couple of working stiff dads who are both recovering former professional musicians:
- Tim Smolens (Estradasphere, I.S.S., Don Salsa, etc) (Colorado): bass, chief producer, keyboards, cello, vox
- Chris Bogen (Doc Booger) (New Orleans): guitars, co-producer, analog synths
The ensemble is filled out by an impressive group of seasoned virtuosos, all distinguished characters in the puny of world of “avant-garde” music:
- Bär McKinnon (Umlaut, Mr. Bungle) (Australia): tenor sax, flute, keyboards, clarinet, vox
- Dave Murray (Estradasphere, Traun) (California): drums, resident polyrhythmic metal specialist
- Stian Carstensen (Farmers Market) (Norway) accordions, pedal steel guitar, our resident Bulgarian music specialist, virtuosic multi-instrumentalist. Stian has collaborated with many internationally acclaimed artists such as Jacob Collier, Mike Patton, and Jimmy Rosenberg.
- Timba Harris (Estradasphere, Probosci, ex -Secret Chiefs 3) (France): violin, viola, string arrangements
HCT's "face-melting" music is not unlike what might be expected from a group with such a diverse collective musical résumé, yet is somehow fresh, vibrant, and dare we say mature in its eclectic cadence. The musical terrain traversed by this largely instrumental group includes long forgotten European waltzes with untimely 's bursts of "Vaudeville Grindcore," 70's Italian cinema-inspired songs, Romanian Folk Metal, 50's sci-fi-surf instrumentals, innovative use of odd meters (47/64), non-standard tuning systems, a variety of special guests including Danny Heifetz (Mr. Bungle), John Whooley (Estradasphere), Jarle Vepestad (Farmers Maket), Adam Stacey (Estradasphere), Caitlin O'Connor (Pure), and many more.
There are densely layered productions enriched by obsessive attention to detail, starkly unrelated genre superimposition, unclassifiable styles, ultra-refined chord progressions, sonic timbres that would've made Joe Meek proud, inscrutable metric modulations and more. Despite the wide array of styles, the recordings are surprisingly cohesive. There is an odd mixture of hi-fi and lo-fi components that converge to make aesthetically pleasing recordings that sound as if they were produced on a 1970's 2-inch tape machine. Despite the convenient aid of modern machinery in their productions, HCT cuts no corners, and even runs their final mixes to JH110B ¼ inch analog tape to round out their warm sound.
High Castle Teleorkestra aims to blow minds, satisfy souls, and quench the musical thirst of those who have sorely missed any or all acts from the graveyard of defunct, semi-defunct, and/or active bands they've helped populate. HCT takes the listener on a blustering journey across the universe atop the pink beam of an ancient satellite.