Old Arc

A SHOULDER PAD encrusted with a shattered disco ball reflects random lightbeams upon a darkened crowd.  Cloaks and tribal war paint mask the machine tamperers twisting and transforming, sampling and scrambling sounds stashed within the duo’s digital quiver.  Electro crinkles and unctuous bass slather ears with a smarmy lather of left-field funk that feels like a stroll through a wily industrial district in the cuts of a gargantuan metropolitan amoeba.

Creeping closer to the sounds, two psychedelic cyborgs, Stefen Lazer and Austin Wood, materialize and give way to the experimental Santa Cruz group Old Arc.

Old Arc’s aesthetic has a past’s future element to it, like a 1950s conception of a near future world with Forbidden Planet-like space traveling technologies and tomorrowlands filled with robots, and a darkened, industrial cyberpunk shade like a scene out of Blade Runner.  There is an off-kilter Xiu Xiu aspect as well, with forlorn and imploring vocal intensity overlaying multi-angular mechanical beats.

“We had an idea behind our music that conveyed an image of psychedelic space & 60s-70s funk,” Old Arc writes to jazner.  “A post apocalyptic future where funk is the key to survival.”

Nothing provides the funk sustenance to survive more than the track “Merchant Cross” off the Old Arc EP, available at the crew’s Bandcamp and below.  The bass is so plump and juicy, skiddling throughout the track and leaving a wake of wonk.  The synth brings a blurry, upbeat melancholy vibe, like a broken heart about to be mended with a new love.  And Stefen’s vocals tie it all together, belting lines like “You best believe me, honey / I’ve got diseases, honey” that puts the cherry on top of this weird and addictive tune.

“We spend a lot of time manipulating samples,” the group divulges.  “The bass in ‘Merchant Cross’ is one of them. We would love to eventually have a live bassist pull it off but as of now we have a midi controller for the sampling.”

Backing Old Arc is the Santa Cruz artist collective and label UFOLK Records, which also represents Blackbird Blackbird, Sun Glitters, as well as Austin and Stefen’s side projects, Atlantic At Pacific and Baromet, respectively.  Art, friendship, and creativity are the main principles of the UFOLK organism.  UFOLK is invested in the DIY philosophy, devoting time into creating handcrafted Sacajawea-like jewel cases, abstract cover art and CD-Rs on a small scale that requires first hand concert experience and befriending this inviting community to become exposed to their bountiful gifts.  Old Arc was kind enough to give jazner a copy of one of these gifts, a copy of their Blue CD at a gig opening for DOM, with beat blazing Tracks 5 and 7 running the show.

Old Arc is primed to reach the apex of its curve, bubbling in the underground with shows in San Francisco and Santa Cruz building a larger following.  Check out the Old Arc EP and UFOLK Records for an off-the-map trek, both in terms of business and musical conventionality, to the outer regions of spaciness.

Old Arc EP


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