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South Bend, Indiana, United States

South Bend, Indiana, United States
Band Rock


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Escherbach plays off its three muses"

Tribune Correspondent

Douglas Hofstadter's 1979 book "Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid" examines parallels among the works of mathematician-philosopher Kurt Gödel, artist Maurits Escher and composer Johann Sebastian Bach. The study is an ambitious synthesis of ideas pertaining to cognition, biology, paradox, number theory, poetry, and several other ideas and idioms suggested to Hofstadter by the works of the three men of its title.

The book also gave a new local instrumental rock trio its name, Escherbach, and helped shape its ideas. The group identifies numerous similarities between its methods and the common threads that Hofstadter detailed.

Guitarist Neil Carmichael points to Escher's use of negative space to represent birds and fish in "Sky and Water I" and the simultaneous ascending and descending lines in Bach fugues as something the band explores in its compositions.

"We wanted to incorporate (an Escher-like) visual experience into an aural experience," Carmichael says. "Bach uses some of the same symmetrical techniques, and we've incorporated some of his style, his phrasings and note selection, into our music."

"There are parts in the music where one riff will literally change as it's played and morph into the next riff, the next section of the song," bassist Matt Minkis says.

Formed in 2007, Escherbach has already completed one album, "Cycles," and plans to wrap up a sophomore release by late summer. The band is seeking a manager or booking agent to get it on the road for extensive touring, but is mainly staying nearby for the time being. On Saturday, Escherbach performs at the Anchor Inn in South Bend.

Carmichael, Minkis and drummer Sean Norris were all members of another area band, Eargazm, known for its "jam band" music in the tradition of Phish and Umphrey's McGee. Escherbach finds the three leaving behind most of Eargazm's style, though, and instead pushing toward a more intricate progressive rock with a twinge of fusion jazz.

"There are still some elements of jam in what we're doing, but they're slowly drifting away," Minkis says.

"Most of the stuff that we write is very prescribed, predetermined, so there's not as much room for improvisation, whereas a lot of jam music is typically improvisational," Carmichael says. "They'll have a general structure of how they want a specific section to go and then they'll make up parts over that. We still do a little bit of that, but mostly everything is written out: what kind of harmonies we want — a fifth or a third or whatever — and major or minor over whatever root note we're playing. Jam is more fuzzy. What we do is more specific, with a lot of nuance to it."

Without a singer and lyrics in the mix, Escherbach can focus on conjuring metaphysical thoughts and responses from its listeners. The trio is interested in portraying in its music notions that are far removed from the usual lyrical concerns, such as love or politics. Escherbach is going for more cosmic themes.

"If you look at the fabric of the universe that underlies the macro side — the micro, those quantum filaments, those strings that are vibrating around — reality as we know it really doesn't resemble our everyday experiences or interactions," Minkis says. "With vocals, it's telling more of a story, hitting a different part of your brain. You're giving someone an idea, a passageway into your life. We're trying to take our music and connect directly with the listener. Instead of having them thinking of a story, they can overlay their own thoughts and ideas onto it."

- South Bend Tribune

"Progressive ‘Cycles’"

Tribune Staff Writer

When Eargazm’s lead singer, Mike Levee, moved from South Bend in early 2007, the band’s remaining three members had to make a decision about whether and how to continue.

In the meantime, they continued to write and rehearse new music.

Pretty soon, they knew the answers to their questions: Guitarist Neil Carmichael, bass player Minkis and drummer Seam Norris decided to continue as an instrumental trio.

They renamed themselves Escherbach — after the artist Maurits Escher and the composer Johannes Sebastian Bach — and began recording a demo tape with Nicholas Schmidt, a friend and musician, as producer and engineer.

Then the trio shelved the recording for a year.

Fortunately, the band listened to those recordings again in late 2008 and, rightly, discovered they’d captured some superb music.

Escherbach will release those sessions as its debut album, “Cycles,” with a performance Feb. 13 at The Beanery in Mishawaka.

“The whole CD started with us wanting to make a demo and then it evolved into a full-blown project,” Carmichael says. “Late last year, 2008, we hadn’t listened to it for a year and we listened to it, and we were like, ‘There’s some pretty cool stuff in here. Maybe we should release it and see if anybody likes it.’ ”

Fans of ’70s progressive rock should like it for its intricate, multifaceted use of styles and rhythms and its propulsive, rock energy.

“The specific description is that we perform intense music that mixes fusion arrangements with the styles of post- and progressive rock,” Carmichael says and later defines the term “post-rock”: “We are able to incorporate multiple genres into what we’re doing, so it’s not a static, formulaic sound. We can go from jazz to a more ambient atmosphere section and then go back to a more melodic rock or a hard, rhythmic rock.”

On “Cycles,” the music adroitly shifts from hard rock to lyrical blues-inflected solos, from melodic mid-tempo sections to brief repetitive, droning passages, with turbulent transitions often bridging parts of songs. Comparisons to Pink Floyd, Rush and Umphrey’s McGee all come to mind at different times while listening to “Cycles.”

“Not that the audience is ADD, but it seems to help when we hit them in the face every once in a while” with a sudden change in direction, Carmichael says. “Because we’re not tailoring songs to a prescribed formula, it forces us to make music that’s constantly entertaining or engaging, so it forces us to think about every part of every song. We can’t say we’ll play A major here and G major here for 16 bars and then we’ll have a vocal break.”

There are, however, some vocal breaks on “Cycles.”

Schmidt sings on “Back 9,” “Rimshot” and “Sea of Dreams,” and Ali Niedbalski and Lorcan Miller also sing on “Sea of Dreams,” a half-acoustic, half-electric song that had been part of Eargazm’s sets that Schmidt and Carmichael reworked for “Cycles.”

Although the vocals on “Sea of Dreams” command center-stage attention, the vocals on “Back 9” and “Rimshot” serve more to fit in with the sonic landscape of the other instruments.

“It’s more like we’re thinking of the voice, instead of as a storyteller or narrator, as another instrument, even a solo instrument,” Carmichael says about Schmidt’s singing on those songs.

As Eargazm, the band fit into the jam band mode, but on “Cycles” and now live, Escherbach writes and performs highly structured, considered pieces of music.

“I would say, for a majority of the songs, that holds true,” Carmichael says. “There are only two or three songs where there are open-ended sections, but even those open-ended sections have structure. … There are a few ambient sections that are open-ended, where it’s mad noises and chaos.”

Despite that structure, however, Escherbach retains the exploratory ethos of a jam band as it continues to rewrite finished songs and “harvest” parts from others.

“The concept we were trying to create was that this was Escherbach right after we formed Escherbach,” Carmichael says about the album’s title and material. “We found that after we recorded the songs and started to rehearse, they changed. Some of the music remains static, like all pop music, (but) our music takes on this process of natural selection where it’s constantly evolving over time. Now, we find ourselves in this arc where our songs are being rewritten so that what you hear live now isn’t what you hear on the CD.”

For tonight’s show, the band will stick to “Cycles” for its first set and play the first seven of the album’s eight songs (the eighth, “Sea of Dreams,” includes vocals).

“This will be the only time we’ll play all of them because we retired ‘Trichotillomania’ and ‘Marty Meets Stella,’ Carmichael says. “æ‘Trichotillomania,’ we retired because we’ve been playing it for a while. That was written in the Eargazm days, and we got tired of playing it. … ‘Marty Meets Stella’ is just Nick Schmidt and me in his backyard drinking a lot of beer and banging on stuff.”

The second set, Carmichael says, will be “all newer material, to try to emphasize this theme of ‘Cycles’ that we’re trying to incorporate here.”
- South Bend Tribune

"Cycles Track by Track review by Gary Hill"

Escherbach have produced quite an intriguing disc with Cycles. The South Bend, Indiana outfit takes fusion, Rush-like elements and other sounds and merges them into a motif that’s a bit odd at times and yet, quite catchy. In so many ways you’ve never heard anyone quite like this – and yet it seems familiar, too. This is not a perfect album and it has a bit of a “garage band” texture to some of the production – mind you that lends charm and it’s not something that’s glaring unprofessional. It’s just if you listen to as much music as I do you can tell the difference between something that’s recorded at a serious studio and something that’s recorded in a smaller studio. They both sound good. They just have a different ambience and life to them. In fact, I’d say that the real difference there is that the pro studio gives you a “studio neutral” sound while the other lets you get the feeling that it was recorded in a studio. (ed. In the interest of full disclosure, Gary Hill has taken Escherbach on as a PR client - but only after this unbiased review was written)

Track by Track Review

This starts with some sound effects and then moves out to something that feels like it could become metallic. Instead they take us out into a fusion jam that’s rather like Satriani or Vai. From there, though, we get a cool Rush-like riff and then a return to the melodic fusion. I love the nearly funky segment that takes it still further down the road.

How can you ever see that name and not hear Biff screaming it? This is more diverse than the first one. It’s got a lot of fun woven into the musical motif. At times I can hear surf styled music. At other points we get sounds that are closer to the opening number. The fast paced jam and then slow down later is quite cool and a bit odd – but in a great way. This takes into space type music for a time before they return us to the place where this little bit picked us up.

Back 9
This storms in feeling a lot like Rush and then works through some changes and alterations in a new fusion path. It’s perhaps a bit more straightforward rock and roll than the first couple. It definitely has some tasty guitar work. Of course, all that said, this also has some of the mellowest motifs we’ve heard so far in the guise of a ballad-like little jam mid-track that eventually builds back up towards the song proper. This one is the first to feature vocals and they take us into some unusual territory in a space jam after that before making their way back to the main musical structures. They take us back into vocal sections from there and then we get another Rush-like movement to take it to the odd outro.
Marty Meets Stella
Here we have an unusual track that reminds me a bit of Pink Floyd. Some mellow jamming is laid across an active percussive track. Then a spoken section repeats over this.

Abrupt Bus
This instrumental doesn’t break the mold of what we’ve heard thus far all that much, yet somehow I like it more than a lot of the rest of the music. There are some definite Pentwater like progressions on this, but with a more guitar centric arrangement. This is possibly my favorite piece on show here. I also hear some modern King Crimson on this one. It also manages to incorporate some of the most meaty pure rock guitar work at points.

Here’s another highlight. This tune has a bit of a King’s X feel in that it’s got vocals and an almost Beatles-like element to it, but delivered with a slightly off-kilter hard rock sound. I can hear a lot of fusion on this, but the guitar solo later in the piece even makes me think of The Allman Brothers – that’s how diverse this beast is. They drop it way down for a fast paced, mellow jam later, too. We also get some nearly pure jazz on this one and some almost purely old school progressive rock right on the outro. This is a great piece of music.

Burnt Burrito
Jimi Hendrix is in the house on the opening here, but then they turn it out towards the funk – think Tishamingo or maybe even Niacin (if Niacin had guitar). It moves out towards a more 1960’s sound as they carry it onward. This is another highlight with some spaghetti western meets surf sounds at times. I can also make out Rush on it. It turns heavier – and still extremely tasty – later with a more pronounced Rush sound. They keep changing it up, though. There are Latin elements later and then a more pure fusion jam, too. It might seem like they’ve packed an awful lot into this one, but at almost seven minutes in length it’s the longest cut on show here – and leaves enough room to keep trading it up. I’d have to say that, as good as the first half of the cut is, I like the later minute or two the best.

Sea Of Dreams
The airy vocals that start this off remind me a bit of The Syn. This acapella section takes us to a balladic movement that has a definite folk rock texture to it. The vocals come in over the top of this and they begin to build it up from there. I’m not sure that I’d call this track progressive rock, though. They basically take us through this journey by moving into harder rocking territory later, but in more of a jam band style. This is good stuff, and perhaps a bit like Captain Beyond at times. I’m just not sure I would have closed with it. - Music Street Journal


Cycles LP - 2009
Live at Cheers, free release - 2009



Escherbach is an instrumental rock trio from South Bend, Indiana formed early in 2007. The trio performs intense music which laces fusion arrangements with the styles of post and progressive rock in order to satisfy the technical junkies yet still be accessible enough for the casual music listener. The resulting sound is chaotic, beautiful, energetic, and sometimes indescribable. Without putting constraints on the listener through the use of lyrics, Escherbach allows the listener to conjure up their own emotions and feelings to associate with the music, thus creating a unique experience for each individual.

“The trio is interested in portraying in its music notions that are far removed from the usual lyrical concerns, such as love or politics. Escherbach is going for more cosmic themes." - Jack Walton, South Bend Tribune Correspondent

In February of 2009 Escherbach released their first full length album Cycles, originally recorded in spring 2007 but later printed and released to allow requesting fans an interesting piece of the bands history. Cycles captures the band at the beginning of its first musical cycle and showcases the band experimenting with ideas that other bands wouldn't normally attempt for a first release. Instead of aiming for better sounding versions of live material, Escherbach and producer Nicholas Schmidt opted to record an album that would be separate from the live experience and stand on its own. There were no rules or limitations to the recording process that took place casually over a three month period. The final result demands many listens if one truly wants to experience all the nuances of Cycles.

“On “Cycles,” the music adroitly shifts from hard rock to lyrical blues-inflected solos, from melodic mid-tempo sections to brief repetitive, droning passages, with turbulent transitions often bridging parts of songs. Comparisons to Pink Floyd, Rush and Umphrey’s McGee all come to mind at different times while listening to “Cycles.”” - Andrew S. Hughes, South Bend Tribune Staff Writer

"Escherbach have produced quite an intriguing disc with Cycles. The South Bend, Indiana outfit takes fusion, Rush-like elements and other sounds and merges them into a motif that’s a bit odd at times and yet, quite catchy. In so many ways you’ve never heard anyone quite like this – and yet it seems familiar, too." - Gary Hill, Music Street Journal

The rest of 2009 will see Escherbach supporting the release of Cycles, exploring new sounds and styles to incorporate into their music, and reaching out to the appreciative ears of music lovers across America.

For more information on Cycles and Escherbach please visit our website at