Golden Dawn Arkestra combine afropop and jazz to create moments of transcendence

‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ is a concept borne of the composer Richard Wagner meaning ‘all-embracing art form’, or in laymen’s terms, the combination of multiple art forms; music, theater, sculpture, dance, literature, poetry and comedy are combined to create an epic that defies medium and is thus a medium unto itself. ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’ is not just a cycle of four operas, it is the ultimate artistic realization of Wagner, and to enjoy it is not just to watch the show, it is to become completely immersed in its creation and the incandescent wonder of it being its own, self-defined work of expression and art.

Golden Dawn Arkestra is a band from Austin Texas that combines Fela Kuti afropop, Sun Ra jazz, eastern mysticism straight from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, psychedelic visuals pulled from the 60s and 70s, bourgeois kitsch fashion and expressive belly-dancing to create a stage show unlike any contemporary music or stage production. Before each show, the members walk through the crowd, burning sage and carrying banners, announcing the coming of the sun and dawn, ascending to the stage as if they were rising to the heavens, and in a moment of gross transcendence and wonder, lay the boogie down.

With a full rhythm section, a full horn section, multiple singers and dancers and a keyboard, their  group is large and their sound is massive and would be unwieldy for most, which is why its so impressive that they keep their grooves so tight; all the players know when to play and when not to play, with horns bubbling up between keyboard lines and stabbing along with chicken-grease guitar riffs, serving as both hyphens and exclamation points in the mantras the band invokes. Bass and percussion weave together perfectly like two dancers, creating a carnal rhythm for those dancing not only on stage, but in the audience as well.

Golden Dawn Arkestra are on tour in Europe now, and I know that most of this site’s readers are on that side of the Atlantic, so if you want to catch their epic stage show for yourself, don’t miss out on your opportunity to praise the sun in pure, psychedelic, Austin-style—you won’t experience anything else like it!

Words: Ethan Schrupp | @ethanschrupp

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