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Pele



The turbulent and beautiful post-rock outfit Pele was formed in Milwaukee in 1997 by bassist Scott Schoenbeck (Alligator Gun), guitarist Chris Rosenau (Loomis), and drummer John Mueller (Telecognac). Shortly before they recorded their first album Teaching the History of Teaching Geography, they recruited The Promise Ring's Scott Beschta to play keyboards, and his addition helped define the initial direction of Pele's wandering, benevolent sound on that album. After that release, Pele did a sister disc called People Living with Animals. Animals Kill People, featuring new songs, including "Metric" and "Apiary," and remixes, including Bundy Brown's reworking of "Testosterina" and Mark Greenberg's take on "Jap Gang."

After those initial releases, Schoenbeck joined The Promise Ring to take over bass duties from Beschta, who was leaving both bands to pursue solo work. Pele's two remaining members then recruited Matt Tennassen of Paris, Texas to play bass. With this new three-person lineup, Pele recorded a new album, Elephant (1999) on Washington-based Sign Language Records. With this effort, on tracks like "A Scuttled Bender in a Watery Closet," "Gymnastics (Pam)," and "Little Hunts," they continued the post-rock experimental meanderings of previous releases, minus keys, exploring how musical elements ranging from free jazz to electronic ambience can augment classic three-piece instrumentation.

On their fourth album, the Polyvinyl release The Nudes (2000), they continue to gorgeously mix spontaneous improvisation and experimentation with preset compositions to create gloriously abstract pieces of sound collage. Pieces like the featured "Black Socks" are the musical equivalent to confetti, bright and colorful, playful, full of small soft detail, deeply nostalgic, warmly melancholy.

2002's Enemies takes charge early on with rhythmic charges that careen into challenging new territories of sound and structure. Later era Don Caballero is a good reference point, but just for starters. The music is intimate, often peculiar, inspiring strange thoughts and moods. As Pele continues to evolve, they continue to surprise and delight.