The Brains Behind LEVITATION's Otherworldly Visual Realm, Bob Mustachio of Christian Bland and the Revelators

Austin's LEVITATION festival (formerly Austin Psych Fest) is preparing for it's 9th instalment April 29th-May 1st. The gathering has a reputation for not only providing some of the most surreal and mind-bending sounds to kick off your summer, but recreation in the form of mind-altering visuals as well. One noteworthy optic wizard, drummer Bob Mustachio of Christian Bland & The Revelators, will return this year to deliver an immersive light show that's bound to have you floating in the ether. 

The mastermind behind The Mustachio Light Show tours regularly with The Black Angels, and also provided hallucinatory graphics in the Revelators' video for "Daughters of the Son" off of The Unseen Green Obscene. By using a mix of classic 60's style liquid lights, digitally manipulated VHS tapes, and improvised digital imagery, it's an experience that mixes cutting edge and vintage sensory delights. We caught up with Bob to delve into the creative process behind the new hybrid art of multi-media video projections.

Above: Christian Bland at Liverpool Psych Fest


What initially sparked your interest in working with digital art/projections? Has this art always been directly meshed with your music background, or is it something that naturally evolved together?

I began playing drums at a very early age, and my immediate family were all musicians also. So, I become fluent in the language of music before English. Much later in life, I became interested in film and video production, specifically the technical aspects of post - production. This was at the dawn of digital non-linear editing, and computers were just starting to be integrated in the work flow of both audio and video production, and it was very exciting. It was not until fairly recently, around 2012, after moving to Austin that I started to work creatively with visuals for live bands.

Regarding the technical aspects of projections and digital creation, is there a balance of using new/old technology to achieve your desired results?

I try to mix as many different type of visual media together as a situation will allow. Some of it is old, and some of it is new technology. The key is combining things creatively, not using the default settings if your using a computer and making sure the creative level of your content is on par with the technical level of your installation, and vice versa.

Above: The Mustachio Light Show & Go!Zilla at SXSW, 2016

What is your creative head space like while projecting?

Not very different from when I'm playing drums, there is a bit of technical setup that must be done in advance to facilitate the creative process. I have a general idea and plan, but improvise along the way. It is important for me not to be hindered by technical issues because so much of what I do is generated on the fly.

What types of venues or spaces are your favorite to work in?

I love old theaters with nice balconies the best. Also, smaller gallery type spaces like K23 in San Antonio are awesome, lots of white walls everywhere. I am very lucky to get to work on the stage and video design for the Levitation Festival, so I love working there as well! All three of the stages have an element about them that makes them unique, especially for a festival setting.



Are there any particular shows or moments that stand out in your mind?

The Psych Fest of 2012 at Emo's East was a bit of a turning point for me. Up to then, I had only ever worked with The Black Angels as far as video projections go, an hour and a half maximum at a time. That weekend I spent 3 days doing visuals for about 75% of the bands that played, for hours and hours in a row...it really forced me to rethink my fundamental approach to visuals in ways that changed the way I work to this day.



Are there any other past/present visual artists (of any medium) whose work you admire?

Way too many to count or list! So much great stuff out there, and I'm always finding more. I like to pick a year and study it in detail: the films, the music, news, technological advances, etc. The context of art or events is important to me and this helps me understand everything a little more. Cheers!

- Lindsay Krause

April 07, 2016 by Lindsay Crause

Prepare for Liftoff with Levitation's Free Week Showcase in Austin

Levitation Festival

Music lovers in Austin, Texas taking flight for April's LEVITATION Festival (Formerly Austin Psych Fest) were treated to a preview of the upcoming brain float. Red River Street venue The Mohawk hosted 8 impressive sets for LEVITATION's Free Week Showcase earlier this month including Fuzz Club collaborators Christian Bland & The Revelators. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare for liftoff as we highlight a few of our favorite acts from that fine and festive evening.

MOVING PANORAMAS

Starting off the night were the buttery daydream sounds of Austin trio Moving Panoramas. Their attention grabbing melodic tales sounded smooth as velvet, and the three piece all girl band charmed the crowd early in the evening. During "One" (also the title of their new October 2015 LP out on Modern Outsider), lead singer Leslie Sisson cooed "We all know one is the number, we all fear the most". The band will be playing during South By Southwest this March.

Starting off the night were the buttery daydream sounds of Austin trio Moving Panoramas. Their attention grabbing melodic tales sounded smooth as velvet, and the three piece all girl band charmed the crowd early in the evening. During "One" (also the title of their new October 2015 LP out on Modern Outsider), lead singer Leslie Sisson cooed "We all know one is the number, we all fear the most". The band will be playing during South By Southwest this March.

 

 

 

 

 

 Golden Graves

The first indoor show of the night was packed as Austinites Golden Graves took the stage. Continuing the hazy and deliciously distorting vibes set by the previous performance, the four piece enchanted the intimate space with a slurry of what could be music to break up with your girlfriend while drinking 40's of Olde English in the graveyard. The four maintained steady sound waves that rolled in and crashed sweetly like the tide, washing the audience in their lush and grungy grooves.  Last year they released their self titled EP.

The first indoor show of the night was packed as Austinites Golden Graves took the stage. Continuing the hazy and deliciously distorting vibes set by the previous performance, the four piece enchanted the intimate space with a slurry of what could be music to break up with your girlfriend while drinking 40's of Olde English in the graveyard. The four maintained steady sound waves that rolled in and crashed sweetly like the tide, washing the audience in their lush and grungy grooves.  Last year they released their self titled EP.

 

 

Christian Bland and the Revelators
Christian Bland and the Revelators

The Black Angels guitarist Christian Bland, was joined by Revelators Chris Catalena on organ, Bob Mustachio on drums (who has also played with LA's The Warlocks), and Luke Dawson on bass to lay down a tight set fresh from last month's new split EP release (with Chris Catalena & The Native Americans) on The Reverberation Appreciation Society.The reverb spirit was very much alive and well, with the group delivering their quaking and hypnotic rock and roll sure to please any levitators. "CB160", an ode to the classic Honda motorbike from 2014's The Unseen Green Obscene lured listeners into Bland's world of treacherous midnight rides, complete with enough freaky distortion reminiscent of an adrenaline fuelled escapade. The Black Angels are set to play a few festivals this summer, including (of course) Levitation, as well as Atlanta's Shaky Knees and Switzerland's Bad Bonn Kilbi both in May.

Ringo Deathstarr
Ringo Deathstarr Levitation

Ringo Deathstarr's bassist/vocalist Alex Gehring,"whose delicate voice echoes eerily over the spectral, otherworldly chords that plunk underneath" (via RVRB), serenaded outdoor Mohawk attendees next. The 2015 Levitation alumni released their 5th studio album, Pure Mood, on The Reverberation Appreciation Society last month, solidly balancing shape-shifting drones, garage grit and elegantly delivered lyrics. The band will be heading overseas this March for Cosmosis Festival and a UK tour.

Golden Dawn Arkestra

Golden Dawn ArkestraRounding out an already striking lineup was the incredibly elaborate and funky Golden Dawn Arkestra. Their grand entrance, cascading down both of The Mohawk's outdoor staircases as they made their way to the stage (complete with ornate and fragrant incense vessels ) invited the crowd into their mysterious world. "I want to remind you, this is your only option. Respect your option" mastermind and member Topaz McGarrigle (aka Zapot Mgwana) encouraged everyone as their dance fueled interstellar vibrations infected the air. Golden Dawn is nothing if not one of the most enlivening and illuminating music experiences around these days, inspired by the transformative and avant-garde jazz message of Sun Ra, and packing a very stimulating visual component with their glittering costumes and performance art. The closing act certainly edged anyone planning to attend April's festival closer to to ecstatic anticipation, foretelling the divine traveler's tale on their site, "Awaiting the return of their divine solar mandjet. They convey the signal in song as they look towards the skies for a sign of the coming light."

Also playing were Hidden Ritual, Indian Jewelry, Isaiah the Mosaic, and Bali Yaaah.

Weekend passes for Levitation Festival are available for purchase here. Notable headliners on this year's bill include Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys (performing Pet Sounds), Animal Collective, Ty Segall, and The Brian Jonestown Massacre.

-Lindsay Krause

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