Band: Ahleuchatistas

CD Title: Heads Full of Poison

Band Website:

Label: Cuneiform Records

Label Website:

Release Date: 2012


They say it’s good to stretch your listening “muscles,” take time to listen to things you don’t normally listen to. When I feel that urge I turn to my good friends at Cuneiform records as their line-up of artists is full of mind-stretching releases. Take for example the band Ahleuchatistas and their seventh disc entitled Heads Full of Poison. This American band came together in 2003 as a trio but after five discs has become the duo of Shane Perlowin (guitar and bass) and Ryan Oslance (drums) and that’s whose playing here. The music they create is easily classified as Avant-Prog. Music that will not be everyone’s cup-of-tea.


Heads Full of Poison features nine-instrumental tracks, most of them longer than six-minutes, but with a couple shorter tricky pieces thrown into the mix. The musical style comes across as quite improvised; guitar runs will take off in one direction and then stop while the drums provide odd little fills waiting expectantly for the next musical surge. They’ll get into a nice groove and then just work it. The way the guitar is played I’m reminded of instruments like the Koto giving many of these tunes a more than subtle Asian vibe.  On the longer compositions the improvisational element makes an even greater impact as unusual sounds are crafted and then blended into the longer more melodic grooves. A distinct jazzy vibe is married to an equally prominent experimental feel. Trust me, you just don’t know where these tunes are going and just when you think you’ve figured it out, they trick you and go and do something else. The volume rises crescendo like creating a cacophony of dissonance and then becomes soft and delicate. Until it explodes into something else that is.        


If you are looking to stretch that musical listening muscle, Ahleuchatistas would be a fine place to start, but beware, this is an acquired taste. Heads Full of Poison is recommended for fans of unpredictable, experimental, jazzy Avant-Prog and for them, this will be a very exhilarating and satisfying listen. For everyone else you may want to look elsewhere for your music fix.