CD Review: Peace of Mind Orchestra — Still Awake at Dawn Part One


Peace of Mind Orchestra

Still Awake at Dawn, Part I

By Al Kaufman

When most people imagine an orchestra, they imagine more than two people playing in it. Peace of Mind Orchestra consists of Ari Leopold and Matt Engel. Engel plays bass and synthesizer, while Leopold handles the guitar, drumming and singing duties. And they do so without looping any sounds.

The result is a type of jam band that crosses Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, and a sprinkle of Frank Zappa, with the poetry of Leonard Cohen. The sound is rich, full, and organic, but also somewhat trippy and psychedelic. Leopold's distorted vocals only add to the overall experience.

The orchestral duo created the CD over a two year span, often while in different parts of the country. They emailed everything from tracks to little snippets of music to each other. Through this process, they created so much music that they plan to release Still Awake at Dawn Part II within the year.

Part I combines trippy, and sometimes ambient, jams with enough New Orleans-style funk so that even someone not stoned can enjoy the whole deal. There are plenty of long, spacey jams here, such as on "Burnin/Turnin'," but they are able to hold interest, a rarity for extended jam sessions.

Live, Peace of Mind are even more of a sight to behold. Leopold's guitar is attached to his drum kit, while Engel plays keyboards, synthesizers, and bass simultaneously. Nothing is looped in. To hear all that music coming from just just people would make the soberest of people think he had just eaten some magic mushrooms. 

Peace of Mind Orchestra play Smith's Olde Bar on Monday, March 16th. 10 pm. $5. Tickets are available at the door only. Check out their live show here.


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