North Carolina instrumental rock duo Ahleuchatistas belong to the beyond-category sector of such iconic, genre-flouting combos as John Zorn’s Naked City, Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, Swans, Tortoise, and Sun City Girls. Ahleuchatistas combine wicked precision with intense abandon, droll humor with analytical construction, and a sly gregariousness with uncompromising vision. This pair interweaves elements of punk rock, jazz, classical music, speed metal, grindcore, progressive rock, noise, folk musics from Asia and North Africa, electronic music, and ambient aesthetics, along with volatile, unpredictable improvisation, flowing organically in a virtual world of their own. With a devoted international cult following, Ahleuchatistas is considered by many to be one of the most innovative and ever-developing instrumental groups of the past decade. Cerebral but never ponderous, Ahleuchatistas make immediate music that reaches for the mind, heart, and gut.
On their seventh album and third for Cuneiform, Ahleuchatistas’ Heads Full of Poison is a sonic brew that reveals new flavors, new spices with every aural taste. Now a duo of charter member Shane Perlowin (guitar and bass) and Ryan Oslance (drums), Heads Full of Poison was developed over a two year period, road-tested and honed with numerous performances, including nearly 100 in Europe. The music was altered, edited, and embellished at nearly every gig with improvisational possibilities explored at length. The music combines highly detailed composition with a looseness that encourages a range of interpretation. Each track was recorded live in the studio. Oslance performed all the drums and percussion live with zero overdubs. Perlowin produced the various guitars and bass tracks to impart the richness and detail of a conceptualized studio album, but the basic tracks are performed live. By the time of the recording in January and February 2012, the music had been given ample time to ferment, so the performances captured are as close to perfection as possible, with technical hurdles surmounted, the sonic palette settled upon, each note and beat executed confidently and with nuance.