In this week's issue of New Times, I chart the conversation that occurred when I sat down with J.S. Aurelius and Alexander Jarson of Tempe's Ascetic House, a creative "collective" that releases art, video, music, and literature.
The two aren't eager to define what Ascetic House "is." And that's the idea.
"I would consider the art -- the fliers we've done -- 'releases,'" Aurelius says. "It's all the catalog of our accomplishments. Whether it's a punk show or performance art [or] a painting someone did . . . Any aspect of that is part of the same thing."
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That "thing" is best experienced, and next week Ascetic House hosts the Sonoran Pop Fesival 2012, featuring Body of Light, Marshstepper, Soft Shoulder (Gilgongo Records), Christian Filardo (Holy Page Records), and Documentarian, as well as a cast of national and international acts like Lust for Youth, Pharmakon, Anti-Civilization Mask, Søren, Foreplay, and Granite Mask. It's as good a chance as you're going to get to experience Ascetic House and its international connections.
The show acts as a sister festival to the Sacred Bones Five-Year Anniversary Celebration in the Mojave, on Friday, December 21. That gathering features Zola Jesus, Wymond Miles, Lust for Youth, Pop. 1280, Psychic Ills, Vår, Cult of Youth, and DJs Jonbenet and Becka Diamond at desert venue Pappy and Harriet's in remote Pioneertown, just outside of Joshua Tree National Park in California.
"When Marshstepper [Aurelius' noise/dance project] went to Europe," explains Aurelius, "Loke [Rahbek, of Lust for Youth, Posh Isolation] was talking to us about how he really wanted to come to Phoenix, how he wanted to come to the desert and shoot guns, stuff like that. They told us they were coming out for some festival in Joshua Tree, and I was like, 'Joshua Tree, what the fuck?' I said, if you can come out [to Phoenix] we'll make it worth it."
The plans further aligned when Aurelius ran into Taylor Brode of Sacred Bones while performing with Destruction Unit in New York (the night Hurricane Sandy hit, no less).
"Since Lust for Youth [would] be in New York for some shows leading up to our anniversary, and geographically, Tempe is kind of on the way from New York to Joshua Tree, we thought it would be a good opportunity to do something collaborative with Ascetic House," Brode explains. "Pharmakon and Søren from Rosenkoph are good friends of both labels, and Foreplay is the new project of Chris Hansell, formerly of The Men (who are also on Sacred Bones). The other member of Foreplay is Margaret of Pharmakon's older sister. It's all incestuous, but in the best possible way."
The dual festivals not only showcase some of the most forward-thinking acts in experimental music, but also allow for a little hometown pride for the Ascetic House group.
"I think that a lot of people are starting to connect the dots that there's actually interesting things happening in Phoenix," Aurelius says. "Because it's been so isolated, it's hard for people to pick up on."
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Sonoran Pop Fesival 2012, featuring Body of Light, Marshstepper, Soft Shoulder, Christian Filardo, Documentarian, Lust for Youth, Pharmakon, Anti-Civilization Mask, Søren, Foreplay, and Granite Mask is scheduled for Tuesday, December 18, at Deadhorse Warehouse in Tempe.
Sacred Bones Five-Year Anniversary Celebration, featuring Zola Jesus, Wymond Miles, Lust For Youth, Pop.1280, Psychic Ills, Vår, Cult of Youth, and DJs Jonbenet and Becka Diamond, is scheduled for Friday, December 21, at Pappy and Harriet's in Pioneertown, California.