Philadelphia-based experimentalists Many Arms just released their second LP, Missing Time, and their record release show is Friday at Avant Gentlemen’s Lodge, which will also mark the West Philly venue’s final concert. Missing Time is equally motivated by free jazz and punk, daringly shifting between exactitude and improvisation, chaos and control. PW met with guitarist Nick Millevoi and drummer Ricardo Lagomasino (bassist John DeBlase was in Europe) in West Philly to talk about the new album.
How has the band changed since last year’s Palabras Malas LP?
Ricardo Lagomasino: I think it was more of a free for all at the beginning because we were trying to reconcile all the ideas we were each bringing to the table. We definitely have a more cohesive sound now and we’ve done a lot of playing together.
Nick Millevoi: I think that’s the most important thing. Since the last record we’ve played together a lot and totally shifted our focus. Whereas before we had improvised sections through composed songs, now it’s more deep, free-jazz-style improvisation over longer periods of time. There’s definitely a deeper group aesthetic.
So there’s a more collective, improvisational approach?
RL: Yeah, we just know each other much better musically.
NM: On our last tour we went to a record store in Minneapolis and Johnny bought Frank Wright’s Unity. We listened to that for five hours and then the next day we listened to it for several hours, and it’s been our goal to achieve that kind of group energy.
What was the recording process like?
RL: We don’t do anything in the studio different than we do live.
Hit record and go?
NM: Yeah, we just rolled into the studio and played a live set.
What does “missing time” signify?
RL: Maybe you should take this one ...
NM: The name is taken from a book by noted ufologist Budd Hopkins. One of the first indications that you’ve had an abduction experience is that you’ve “missed time.” The piece is written to impart that feeling of missing time and wandering through a forest wondering what happened, and maybe you were just in outerspace.
Is this idea explored throughout the record?
RL: Not every song, but most share this theme.
NM: As we were going through the phase of finding our new approach to playing we were equally fascinated by the books of Temple Professor David Jacobs.
RL: It started with you, but I think we all read Secret Life and I have Nick’s copy of The Threat, which I haven’t read.