The Texas-based Bourgeois Mystics are one of those outfits that truly defy categorization, although co-founder and keyboardist Squiggly Finesse is willing to give it a try.
“We have the energy of a punk band with the freakiness of funk, the compositional acumen of classical music and the hipness of jazz, all delivered with the hard edge of hip hop and metal,” says SF, who prefers to go by his stage name.
“I guess we like to call it art-funk.”
It all makes more sense when you understand how the band began, some three years or so ago when theater/dance student Squiggly Finesse met bassist and music composition major Zenith Nadir at New Hampshire’s Keane College.
They hit it off both musically and personally, and somehow, they both ended up in Austin, Tex., rapidly accruing like-minded musical travelers along the way. The end result was the Bourgeois Mystics, an up-to-ten-piece prog-funk ensemble with an elaborately theatrical stage presentation that brings to mind erstwhile heavy metal thespians Gwar.
“Zenith and I have different writing styles,” SF says, by way of explaining the band’s profoundly weird dynamics. “He has a deep understanding of theory. He’s a classical music pedant. I have more of an intuitive feel for soul, jazz, hip hop. I have an intuitive funk groove in my soul.
“What we share is a sense of humor. We both like writing strange stories and witty lyrics.”
That Squiggly and Zenith were truly kindred spirits is perhaps evidenced by the fact that they had both already adopted their stage pseudonyms by the time they met at Keane. Theirs was a shared sense of the outrageous, and it led, organically, to the evolution of the Mystics’ unhinged stage show.
“Performance is my background,” says SF. “My theater background gave me a strong foundation for creating characters and connecting with audiences. Zenith actually has a very theatrical flair, too. He’s kind of a silly, whackadoodle dude.
“I’m a live music fan, and I’ve probably been to 400 to 500 live shows in my life. And my favorite ones were the shows where you could dance and party, where people could get silly and let their guard down a little big. That’s the kind of atmosphere I want to create at a Bourgeois Mystics show.”
On April 14, the Mystics released their first record, “Eureka!”, which they announced via the single release “Eureka! Cigarettes.” A truly bent little number, the single comes off as a smooth slice of horn-driven ’70s funk. That is to say, if ’70s funk had been typically spliced with snippets of dancehall and rap, Latin-flavored bridges, and virtuosic fusion guitar solos.
The lyrics are just as harrowingly nutty, written as a commercial for an imaginary brand of cigarettes, featuring the shifting perspectives of a morally conflicted product spokesman, a shady physician, a 19th century gold prospector, and an abominable snowman.
“Like most of what we do, it’s a fusion of the old world and the new world,” SF says of the song. “And like most of what we do, I think there’s an appeal across generations. It’s danceable and modern, with some hip-hop things thrown in. But there are some traditional elements in there, too.”
The Bourgeois Mystics will play Preservation Pub Wednesday, May 3 at 10 p.m.