Fine Peduncle
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Fine Peduncle

Knoxville, Tennessee, United States

Knoxville, Tennessee, United States
Band R&B Industrial

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"Fine Peduncle Explores Sex and Spirituality Through Electro-Soul"

Fine Peduncle Explores Sex and Spirituality Through Electro-Soul


Though it sounds like a word used to describe a creepy older relative you don’t want your kids around, “peduncle” is actually an anatomical term referring to various types of connective stalks found in plants, fish, insects, arachnids, and human brains. For Cole Murphy, the term’s multiple uses and its relation to both insects and humans make it the perfect choice for his musical project, a one-man electro-soul R&B show he calls Fine Peduncle.

“Since I was a kid I’ve had an interest in insects, and I keep a lot of arachnids now,” he says. “I relate them to the more mysterious aspects of my sexuality and spirituality, and from that I’ve developed my own spiritual system that’s reflected in my music and art.”

Murphy makes the kind of bedroom pop only possible in an era of advanced home-computer recording software. Building tracks based on beats and loops that he’s fashioned from recordings of himself playing bass, guitar, keyboard, and even some banjo and violin, he then harmonizes with himself to create a surreal vocal persona with a one-track mind. Fine Peduncle’s music often recalls the blue-eyed funk of Midnite Vultures-era Beck and the freaky sexploits of R. Kelly and Prince, with playfully suggestive raps worked in. The stacking of Murphy’s multi-pitched vocals, which makes frequent use of his arresting falsetto, especially brings the Purple One to mind, though Murphy says he never listened to Prince much until someone made the comparison after one of his shows. In fact, despite the prurient content, he claims the main influence on his singing is the music from which all R&B originates—gospel.

“Gospel is at the root of what I do,” Murphy says. “I get a lot of the vocal ideas from studying music at the Southern Baptist church I went to growing up, where I sang in the choir occasionally.”

Having recently graduated with a degree in printmaking from the University of Tennessee, Murphy is now concentrating on music as much as visual art and says he sees the two as intricately linked. He released the Glen EP last October (available for download via SoundCloud), and he will have a new six-track EP available at his March 4 Pilot Light show. But live shows are where the Fine Peduncle concept really takes off. Murphy’s performance is a hyperactive affair; he sings and talks to the crowd as he dances, usually shirtless, all while trying to keep his vocals and loops lined up.

“I guess some of the actual music is kind of simple, but it’s not easy to perform live,” he says. “There’s a lot of headwork involved. I have to always be thinking about jumping to this numbered channel in this many measures. And I always want to keep it danceable.”

Lyrically, Fine Peduncle’s songs are crowded with references to Michael Bolton, Usher, Friends, and Reading Rainbow. “I Carey a Ludacris Fantasy” melds Ludacris’ “What’s Your Fantasy” with Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy,” while “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” turns the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood theme song into an NC-17 sex fantasy as imagined by someone who watches a lot of Cinemax. It might seem like a crazysexydorky conceptual project, but Murphy’s impressive vocal prowess convinces you it’s not meant to be an ironic take on R&B, and he insists there’s more going on than appears at first glance.

“I like the idea of having something easily accessible on the surface—like the sexual imagery in R&B—having another, underlying meaning,” says Murphy.

As an example, he compares the act of taking his shirt off during performances to the molting of a tarantula, adding another context to the conventional R&B seduction boast he sings while disrobing: “Gonna undo all my buttons/Take off all my clothes/Show you something you ain’t never seen before.” And watching Murphy, with his rather diminutive frame, belt out goofy, risqué lyrics can seem like an attempted subversion of the exaggerated masculine pose found in much hip-hop and R&B.

Murphy also considers Fine Peduncle a way to explore and explicate his spirituality, a customized system drawing from Chakra, Jewish mysticism, and entomology that may be made a bit clearer when Fine Peduncle enters its next phase.

“I’ve already got the next CD planned out,” Murphy says. “It’s called The Entonomicon, and the songs will be based around the 10 spirit guardians associated with energy systems in my body. I think a lot of the ideas will also be made more obvious when I incorporate the new type of performance I want to do. I want to make a far more powerful, theatrical show that has a performance-art aspect to it. I’m making some videos right now using stop-motion techniques that I’ll probably end up projecting. Sexy live dancers are a possibility and strange, grotesque sexual things kind of like GWAR do might be played up in the future. Whatever I can do to pump up the live shows.”

- Metropulse


"Fine Peduncle's Metamorphosis"

Fine Peduncle's Metamorphosis

Fine Peduncle’s one-man engine, Cole Murphy, doesn’t put out albums. He instead refers to his musical releases as “instars,” a term derived from the molting periods of insects in which they crack their outer shells and reveal new forms, shapes, sizes and colors. Murphy takes a lot of meaning out of this. He even says that he derives a spiritual “totem” element from insects. Their natures appeal to him and to his process of making the dense and shimmering music of Fine Peduncle. Just like the brain’s slender stalk-like connectors that inspired the name, Murphy’s music spans a wide web of influences: early-‘90s industrial and R&B, the soulful loops of TV on the Radio, the digital organics of Animal Collective and the slickness of mammoth pop icons Justin Timberlake and Prince. Couple with these a stage act that usually consists of an underwear-clad Murphy coaxing the audience into a sexual fever. According to Murphy, it’s all just part of his process.

“It may seem crazy to think that stripping in my underwear in front of people and singing falsetto could be a personal journey,” says Murphy. “But it’s definitely unlocked me from a lot of the suppression that came with my upbringing.”

Spending his formative years in a conservative, Christian household in Scott County, Tennessee, Murphy has used his music as an opportunity to tap into the taboo of sexuality that has built him a wanton reputation. Don’t think of this as some kind of gimmick; the creation of Fine Peduncle’s music goes part and parcel with this stage experience.

“It’s not like when I’m doing it in my bedroom, I’m just standing there trying to work on the singing,” says Murphy. “I just so happen to be dancing around and hopping up on my table and shaking. I do all that stuff. It’s just me being excited.”

Despite this past notoriety, Murphy says that the once-overt sexual nature of his sets is a thing of the past. He’s not going to be stripping so much anymore; he’s moved past that. Like a new molt, he’s transformed into a new form. A listen to his latest Bandcamp release “Apocrita” is testament to that.

Murphy empathetically judges his latest 5-song EP – excuse me, instar – as “harder to digest” and “harder to approach” than his past efforts that tended towards the more accessible pop end of the spectrum. Murphy’s influence from progressive and acid rock commanded a muse for these latest tracks, which thump with fuzz and wobble, all the while hooking infectious pop melodies.

“I think I get weird during the winter time,” says Murphy of his darker musical direction.

“The next things that are coming out seem to be a lot more light hearted.”

Along with a consistent local presence, Murphy has tried to get Fine Peduncle’s message to the masses, touring whenever possible. While building on the D.I.Y. spirit of band networking, and reoccurring gigs in Austin Texas’s notorious SouthBySouthwest Music Festival, Murphy’s travels have led him into some “star-struck” moments.

After his performance at Moogfest in Asheville, North Carolina, last year, former Roxy Music member and well-renowned electronic music innovator, Brian Eno, complimented Murphy.

“I don’t really get star-struck, normally,” says Murphy. “But when Brain Eno walked up to me and tapped me on the shoulder and told me I did a good job, it really freaked me out. I didn’t really know what to say.”

With a March 4th triple-release show at the Pilot Light with NDN and DumbLunch, and with a couple of spots booked at SouthBySouthwest again this year, Murphy is optimistic about the future path of Fine Peduncle. His attitude reflects in his plans to play any possible opportunity at SouthBySouthwest again this year. Murphy is optimistic about the future path of Fine Peduncle. His attitude reflects in his plans to play any possible opportunity at SouthBySouthwest: “Be like a little rascal and just run around.”

- Blank News


"Fine Peduncle’s Charismatic Authority"

Fine Peduncle’s Charismatic Authority

You may have heard that there were very few Knoxville based bands at Bonnaroo this year. In fact, there was only one I know of, Fine Peduncle. Have you heard of him? You will. I was enthusiastically encouraged by some good friends to check him out at a First Friday event and was immediately perplexed, mesmerized, and attracted to what I saw. At the same time I wondered how something so utterly fascinating was growing in Knoxville without much of us knowing about it.


As I write this I’m watching a tiny house spider wrap up a wasp three times its size. The wasp is desperately trying to free itself from the web as the tiny spider dances effortlessly around it, securing its fate. I find myself hoping that the wasp is numb to the pain. I can’t help but imagine myself as the wasp as he desperatly flutters his wings and bends and twists his body to wrangle free from the web.
Nature is violent. Nature is beautiful.




I believe that art is the human way of expressing our relationship to and understanding of nature in both its beauty and its macabre destruction. I also believe that nature itself is art, and most of what we draw upon as artists comes to us from the natural world.
A Fine Peduncle show is a reflection of the art inherent in nature. The vibrations are a crescendo of sound echoing human desire. To the uninitiated listener, the music will draw you in. It may even make you dance. But you will grow more intrigued and suspicious as you feel the tension grow. You feel the need to surrender. Soon you will find yourself wrapped up in Fine’s web. You become the wasp.
But there is more to Fine Peduncle’s music then lucid innuendo and danceable beats. There is reverence for nature, for a feeling of belonging in a system that is dictated by the need to survive. There is peace in belonging to a species that has rules and systems. Fine Peduncle’s obsessions with insects illuminates the yearning for a simpler life, one that revolves around procreation, feeding, and the birth to death life cycle.

“Fold your legs to make an angle/ open mouth and start to pray/
hurry to the copularium/ it’s time to mate/ see my stingmata reshape”

Upon first hearing and witnessing Fine you may miss most of the obscure insect references. I implore you to return again and again, and allow the entomological mysticism enter your bloodstream.
In contrast an evening with Cole Murphy (Fine Peduncle’s lone member) is calm, centered, directed, calculated and reflective. Watch your manners, be polite, listen, comment, care. Cole is as non-threatening and beautiful as Fine is dangerous and destructive. These two personalities blend brilliantly to create a mirror of the dichotomy of nature itself.




Cole’s charms will draw you in like an inviting creek on a hot summer day. He listens. In contrast, that wild look in his eye that lets on that he is always creating and thinking of a new way to share his message. His message is a still a little unclear to me, and perhaps it is to him as well. I got the sense from talking to him that he is still developing his ideas in both what he calls the “Entomonicon” and the “Great Work”, a bigger multi-media performance concept that will help make it easier for us mere mortals to grasp. Perhaps it is not to be taken so seriously. Perhaps the music is just supposed to be “fun”.
I appreciate the fact that both Fine P and Cole Murphy complete each other. What I see is a real artist-in-the-making who is doing this because he has to. I very rarely use the word “refreshing” when describing something I like. In Fine Peduncle’s case it is very tempting. Whether or not you buy what I am telling you, the music and the performance are worth the price of admission.

horn@blanknews.com

by Christina Horn
- Blank News


"Live Show Review: Fine Peduncle with Dark Room at the BeAtlanta.com house party!"

On Saturday night, Indie Music Reviewer headed to the BeAtlanta house party to experience the transformation and emergence of a new breed of indie music called “arthropop” hailing from Knoxville, TN. This one-man insect-loving & tighty-whitey-sporting act transformed the BeAtlanta house party from a loud domicile of indie-music-lovers to an insectarium of larvae waiting to metamorphose into beautiful fans of Fine Peduncle. When we asked the man behind the music, Cole Murphy, about the project, he answered, “I like bugs, and I like sex, and magic.” Although the name Fine Peduncle might indicate a reference to someone’s creepy over-sexed uncle, it is definitely not the case here; Murphy’s love of bugs, sex, and magic create the perfect setting for Fine Peduncle to put the “sex” back in “insects”. We’re so grateful to have experienced your amazing show and share this experience with others. IMR readers, we introduce: FINE PEDUNCLE! (http://finepeduncle.bandcamp.com)

The first sounds of the show were Murphy’s soulful Prince-like high-range singing a very relaxing melody against a looped hip-hop beat while he charasmatically danced. From there, he continued to loop the melody, whistle, and add higher harmonies until we couldn’t believe how high he was singing. (Murphy’s high notes are almost in comparison to that of manly Mariah Carey. Scratch that, he can probably hit the same notes Mariah hits…amazing. Check out the video above around the 0:10 mark to see a small example!). Once a nice progression was established, synthesized bass, guitar, and drums were added while he continued to BELT out lyrics, then BAM!; sexy rap time!

“Lemme see your exoskeletits”
“Lemme see your exoskeletits” (lemme see em!)
“Lemme see your exoskeletits”
“Lemme see your exoskeletits” (lemme see em!)

With the BeAtlanta house chanting Fine Peduncle’s risqué insect-terminology-ladden lyrics it set up the perfect moment for Murphy’s to make his final phase of metamorphosis; the ECDYSIS! In an instant, Murphy threw off his stag-beetle belt buckle and belt and hopped out of his bright green pants only to leave the onlooking pupas speechless while he continued to jump, sing, rap, and fidget on the stage. From the rest of the night, Murphy comfortably performed in only his tighty-whiteys. I guess we knew somewhat that this might happen considering his previous performance at the 2011 Bonnaroo festival (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9OslxifqSE&).

After the show, we got a chance to sit down with Murphy for a short interview where he explained what a peduncle actually is, his experiences about Bonnaroo, the gear that he uses, and his affluence to bugs. To keep the arthropod theme continuing, we used a nearby bug-light to capture the interview. Enjoy the video and the clips and to view a full-length track (including tighty-whitey shots) of the night, check out this link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIJhrmhU9ek

For those of you who are still confused about what Fine Peduncle is all about, please download the latest album at http://finepeduncle.bandcamp.com and give Murphy a few cents to support this emerging indie artist. - Indie Music Reviewer


"Fine Peduncle Fuses Bugs, Underwear, and Left-Field Electronica to Become Knoxville’s Unlikeliest Celebrity"

Watching Cole Murphy patiently connect all his electronic gear and then lift it onto Preservation Pub’s stage late on a cold Saturday night, it would be fair for the uninitiated to brace themselves against the possibilities. Screen-gazing IDM, or a Girl Talk-lite mashup bandit? Beginner dubstep, maybe? As soon as Murphy picks up the mic to build his first vocal loop, an odd blend of college kids, hipsters, and outright weirdos crowds the stage. Three minutes into a nearly two-hour block of off-kilter solo sex jams, the man known onstage as Fine Peduncle has stripped down to his charcoal skivvies; by halfway through the set much of the audience has joined him in various states of undress, and Peduncle is splitting his time between triggering drum loops, confiscating new items of clothing, and improvising a song about shots of liquor.

Later in the week, Murphy admits that he maybe got carried away.

“That may be the wildest show I’ve done,” he says. “I’m lucky I have such good friends, because I woke up the next day and I didn’t remember anything—like, ‘Did I put my equipment up?’ ‘Don’t worry, we took care of it, it’s cool.’ ‘Why am I so wet?’ ‘Oh, you puked all over everything.’ ‘Why is there money in my underwear?’”

Murphy insists this level of onstage debauchery is a recent development, but Fine Peduncle has been oiling sex drives throughout the Southeast since late 2010, when Knoxville digital label Dracula Horse unveiled his 10-song debut GLEN ahead of an attention-grabbing spot on Pilot Light’s New Year’s Eve show at Ironwood Studios. Several tracks from GLEN remain in Fine Peduncle’s live rotation, not least the libidinal “Don’t You Fret,” which Murphy confirms as the Preservation Pub opener based solely on the fact that he was in his underwear by the second song. But he spends much of the record working out the basics of his sound on the back of existing pop songs, from riffs on “My Girl” and the Mr. Rogers theme song to a sweetly filthy synthesis of Mariah Carey’s “Fantasy” and Ludacris’ “What’s Your Fantasy.”

By early 2011 Fine Peduncle’s sound had solidified into a suggestive, hooky blend of hip-hop and left-field electronica, brought together by Murphy’s Timberlake-on-bad-acid falsetto. What really brought the project to maturity, though, was the incorporation of his lifelong fascination with bugs, a conceit that heavily informs the trilogy of EPs he released throughout the year. (Initially released on Dracula Horse, March’s Obtect Pupa was remastered and reissued alongside follow-ups Ecdysis and Aedeagus in November through Fine Peduncle’s website.)

Though creepy-crawly textures and entomological jargon run as deep at the titles suggest, Murphy, who studied printmaking, says his obsession is more spiritual than academic. Still, getting metaphysical remains a secondary priority; amid the mysticism and glossary fodder are songs named “Panspermia” and “Copularium,” and lines like this one, from Aedeagus’ title track: “Come on and shed your skin/your exoskeleton/I’m looking for an opening to put my aedeagus in.” Go ahead and Google it if you feel the need.

Even the name Fine Peduncle—from the biology term for the connective segment between the abdomen and thorax of an ant or wasp, as Murphy explains—carries more than a clinical significance.

“We also have peduncles in our brains, so in a way that ties into the psychological element of what I do,” he says, alluding to the system of nerve tracts that help govern motor skills. “But [Fine Peduncle] also kinda sounds like a person’s first and last name, so it became kind of a character after that, and even the sound of it has hip-hop connotations, like ‘pedunkadunk.’ And I think that’s really funny.”

That Fine Peduncle is more an identity than a band name is key to the project. As catchy as the songs are, and as captivating as it is to watch one man piece them together from scratch onstage, it’s the aggressive hedonism that made an impression throughout the region in 2011. (He points to Asheville, Murfreesboro, and Atlanta as growing Peduncle strongholds.)

Most importantly, having a fully formed character to inhabit has been a creative boon for the polite, unassuming Murphy, who still traces his love of music back to the pages of church hymnals.

“Fine’s just kind of a party monster, without any inhibitions,” Murphy says. “He can do things that—well, things that Cole probably could do, but won’t do. It’s a very important thing that I have that character, not only to jump into a less-inhibited being when I perform, but also in my normal life—if I were to be Fine Peduncle, say, at my job, I’d be instantly fired. I’d drop trou in front of a family or something. Fine doesn’t think that any of that is really inappropriate, he doesn’t believe in the concept of sin, where Cole still has some lingering concepts from a Christian upbringing, some ghosts that keep him calm, keep him to a certain moral standard. In my head, it’s most safe - Metropulse


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

I have made art under many titles, but Fine Peduncle occurred when I decided to delve into my childhood obsession with insects. Insects are repulsive to many people, but beautiful to me. I use music, art, sexuality, and humor to shed a new light on these creatures who we have been conditioned to dislike.

Making insects Sexy

I create my sound by looping electronic drums, synth, bass, sound texture, and vocals. Voice is the focal point of much of the work which is layered in harmonies as the loops overdub.

I am influenced by artists such as Prince, The Mars Volta, Janelle Monae, DEVO, Cee Lo Green, Nine Inch Nails, Deerhoof, and Animal Collective, Venetian Snares.