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free space

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""MOVE Right Along" - 3rd Coast Press"

Say what you will about Chicago's own Jazz Pop styled free space, you'll never say the conservatory trained quintet will leave an audience bored. Complex polyrhythmic dissonance, syncopated riffage and sizzling cymbals are this band's bread and butter. All this and free space doesn't resort to recording trickery or unfamiliar world beat instruments for its novelty.

Started officially in 2000, founding members Dan Moulder (Piano/Organ/Electric Piano/Synths and vocals) and Jim Liggett (guitars and vocals) set out to use their University training and rapport with each other (they've known each other since junior high) to combine sophisticated pop ideas with their love for good Jazz. Of course, as most good music classifieds disclaim; don't be fooled by the influences. free space is no Jazz Band nor is it a Jam Band, as it is so often mislabeled by critics as well as fans. No, free space is the sum of more disparate parts and refreshingly tiptoes the fine line that every intelligent rock band faces between complexity and accessibility.

After three and a half years of sharing the stage with the likes of official hippies ekoostik hookah, acoustic dynamo Keller Williams and fellow Chicago natives Umphrey's McGee in legitimate venues like the House of Blues, free space went into the studio armed with Grammy award nominated Jeff Ciampa as their producer and emerged with their debut album in April 2004, Move.

On the record, several song styles emerge with varying musical moods and attitudes. The first track, "Real Time" leads off the procession with Moulder's hypnotically pounding piano chords only to be accompanied by John Toth's (drums) furiously syncopated beat. As Liggett's singing kicks in, the charm and bravado of his delivery draws favorable comparisons to Joachim Horsley of Boston's Little Horse. It's Liggett's dynamism that will be responsible when "Real Time" becomes the most successful single on the record.


The band follows the triumph of "Real Time" with a shift toward a more straightforward funked out jam, "Step On the Brakes." On this cut, Moulder assumes the vocal helm and offers his similarly confident yet more raw take on the Free Space sound. Listen for the heavily percussive Hammond work and the acrobatic solo on "Brakes."

The third track, another Liggett tune named "Move" explores synth sounds vaguely hinting at Baba O'Riley arpeggios combined with the New Wave sensibilities of Mark Mothersbaugh. Background vocals sung with shut eyed smiles introduce the song and induce the mood appropriately. The song is listed as their single but sound more like the hidden gem appreciated by the dedicated fan.

By track five, bassist Dan Kalnes gets into the act to sing his spotlight song, "A Day In Tonight." Kalnes style is strongly suggestive of Steely Dan's recent grammy winning album Two Against Nature, specifically the song, "West of Hollywood." The comparisons depart, however, with the introduction of Kalnes' prominent fretless four string.
As a final highlight, check out the creative panning effects used on Moulder's second track, "Forest Fire."

In a time where the grand landscape of Chicago's music scene seeks a band of which it can be proud, I give you Free Space. A quirky band. A sophisticated band. A jazzy band. A rock band. Above all else, a Chicago band.

- Miles Maxwell - 3rd Coast Press (8/2004)


""MOVE" - SKOPE Boston"

4 out of 5 star rating:

According to their website, free space formed four years ago with the objective "to seamlessly integrate the adventurous harmonic concepts of jazz; the infectious, well-crafted nature of pop songwriting; and the self-reliance of the independent rock scene." The quintet's debut album Move certainly demonstrates that they have been working hard towards that goal.

Jim Liggett, Dan Moulder, and Dan Kalnes split songwriting duties on the album, with most tracks written by Liggett and Moulder. There is a notable distinction between each - Moulder's songs are primarily jazz-infused funk, with a solid dance beat and Moulder's soulful, powerful vocals to match, while Liggett's tunes are lighter and more pop-influenced, although backed by more dissonant arrangements and rhythmic shifts. There is a slight mismatch between Liggett's straight, even vocals and everything going on behind them, which could have been lessened with the addition of more vocal effects and does improve when back-up vocals are added. All five musicians are multi-talented, and the eclectic instrumentation which includes woodwinds and just the right amount of synth allow the group to experiment broadly across all genres.

Overall, the CD is a strong first release, and is a unique blend of familiar and experimental jazz-pop styles. However, given the energy and improvisational feel of the music, this does seem like a band whose strengths would be best showcased live.

- Evie Southwick - SKOPE Boston,MA (9/2004)


""MOVE" - The Onion"

Many (perhaps most) jam bands seem to be too busy noodling to remember details like catchy verses and choruses. Chicago's free space-not fully a jam band anyway-injects a spirited dose of pop into its jazzy extrapolations, finding memorable moments with the strange mixture. The group's debut album, Move, will likely find an audience with the hippie-leaning set, but it owes as much to Joe Jackson as it does to Dave Matthews.


- The Onion (9/2004)


""MOVE" - Tiny Mix Tapes"

4.5 out of 5 star rating:

free space from Chicago has uncorked an undeniably ambitious debut album titled Move, worthy of fulsome praise and attention. This recording features ten genuinely tuneful romps in traditional pop song form with hybrid jazz-rock sensibilities and live interactive flair. Combined with sleek experimental production, the result is intertextual and dynamic; a fleshed-out creation as inspired as it is intelligent and adventurous.

The quartet includes Jim Liggett guitars/vocals, Dan Moulder keys/vocals, Dan Kalnes bass/backing vocals, and John Toth drums/percussion. Also featured, Shawn Costantino weaves savvy saxophone riffs and penetrating solos intermittently throughout. Safe to say, there's no doubt these cats can arrange and play music brimming with creative integrity.

The intro track "Real Time" impresses from the get-go that this is mature songwriting with enough music theory for the trained ear, and clearly embraces the inherent beauty of a lucid melody over a gripping beat. Jim's gentle, whimsical vocal line soars with heartfelt and intuitive glow.

Just when the charm settles in, "Step on the Breaks" unleashes an up-tempo no-nonsense attack with impeccable rhythmic propulsion, nostalgic funky guitar, and a whirring Hammond B3 solo that thrives on as much emotion as muscle. Dan's lead vocals ooze a deeper salt-of-the-earth R&B grit guiding this straightforward tune perfectly. Natural impulse will force you to turn! up! the! volume! Don't fight it, feel it.

And then feel the ethereal dimension on the title track "Move," a hummable and thought-provoking sonic gem with clear-eyed lyrics, meandering vocals, and locksteady rhythm. An arpeggiated keyboard effect creates a winsome vibe of abounding energy, turning out a brilliant sonic detail. The mellifluous chorus is infectious and nearly impossible to shake. "We hear the call/ But we miss the voice/ Waking like it's not of our choice/ Come the day's end we rejoice, rejoice."

One by one by one by two, the vocal lines and melodies burrow into your brain. Lush layered harmonies decorate the songs reminiscing the Beach Boys and Yes in a wondrous, winning tradition. These beguiling songs will stay with you - inside you, like fresh air and sunlight.

Furthermore, lyrical content thoughtfully shifts between the literal and figurative, setting up a nice feel - full of humanity. An existential tone subsides within the introspective lyrics of "Anyway," strengthened by a slick pensive guitar solo. Likewise with "Places Please," a transporting masterpiece of solid songcraft and contemplative sentiment.

Influences are notable here as a reference point -- the jazzy sophistication of Steely Dan, a sparkle of Hornsby, fingerprints of the Police and Yes, phrasings of Sting and Jon Anderson. In grand scope, though, the songwriting is anchored in clear-headed originality with inspirational sources unlimited and uncompromised.

Original ideas sustain without exhaustion, repetition, or falling flat. "Forest Fire" begins with a clever segue of studio-recorded samples, linked together in instrumental hip-hop tradition. Such subtle, yet clutch production touches by Jeff Ciampa create a complimentary 'ear candy' nuance without overshadowing the authenticity of genuine songwriting.

The final track, "Peace of Mind" taps into a bag of unpredictable live interactive tricks. The chemistry is soulful and engaging, musicians reacting off of each other with sensible saxophone, piano, and guitar grooves. Improvised ramblings in the background enhance the quality of an already intimate composition. Unending melodic invention never seems cluttered or claustrophobic. Closure couldn't be more appropriate, doubling here as an invitation to a live Free Space experience in which the improvised expression is even more unexpected, extended, and fearless.

Their passion for creating music leaves an indelible impression -- and therein lies the magic of free space. Without evocative songwriting and inspired expression, you've really got nothing. This debut darling Move genuinely sustains several listens, each time revealing new subtleties and surprises. And it just may be the only album you find with a weathered pink hearse parked in shadows center cover. All yours, pabulum free.
- Tiny Mix Tapes (11/2004)


"Garageband.com"

With great skill, these guys share some common ground with the likes of Dave Matthews, Sting and John Mayer (and curiously enough Supertramp?! Maybe it's just me, or perhaps the wurly and Mellotron like sounds...) - and they don't fall short of these greats by much. They are the absolute best I've heard on garageband.com - and if there is any cosmic justice - these guys will make it big.

Awards received for "Places, Please."

#8 Best Keyboards in Indie Rock, all-time
#1 Best Production in Indie Rock, all-time
#4 Grooviest Rhythm in Indie Rock, all-time
Best Bass in Indie Rock, week of 8Nov2004
Best Bass in Indie Rock, week of 11Nov2004
Best Keyboards overall, week of 15Nov2004
Best Keyboards in Indie Rock, week of 1Nov2004
Best Keyboards in Indie Rock, week of 8Nov2004
Best Keyboards in Indie Rock, week of 11Nov2004
Best Keyboards in Indie Rock, week of 15Nov2004
Best Production overall, week of 8Nov2004
Best Production in Indie Rock, week of 1Nov2004
Best Production in Indie Rock, week of 8Nov2004
Best Production in Indie Rock, week of 11Nov2004
Best Production in Indie Rock, week of 15Nov2004
Best Beat in Indie Rock, week of 8Nov2004
Grooviest Rhythm overall, week of 8Nov2004
Grooviest Rhythm in Indie Rock, week of 8Nov2004
Grooviest Rhythm in Indie Rock, week of 11Nov2004
Chill-Out Track in Indie Rock, week of 8Nov2004
Chill-Out Track in Indie Rock, week of 11Nov2004 - Garageband.com (8/2004)


Discography

MOVE - April 2004
Man To Monkey EP - June 2005

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

When free space was formed in the fall of 2001, they had one thing in mind; to seamlessly integrate the adventurous harmonic concepts of jazz; the infectious, well-crafted nature of pop songwriting; and the self-reliance of the independent rock scene. As a result, they simultaneously appeal to the seemingly incongruous worlds of the discriminating jazz aficionado, the ever-touring, jam-loving hippie, the mod-meets-vintage indie-rocker, and the jeep-driving, radio-loving sorority girl.

The spontaneous, visceral aspect of live performance has always been an integral part of the free space experience. Yet the band became increasingly intrigued by the prospects of capturing that essence in the studio, so they enlisted the talents of Columbus, Ohio native Jeff Ciampa (Grammy-nominated for his work with legendary saxophonist Wayne Shorter) to produce their debut album “Move.” The move paid off in spades, as the album (released in April 2004) has already garnered the band radio airplay throughout the Mid-west, and rave reviews from fans and critics alike.

In looking to expand their sphere of influence, free space is constantly seeking new avenues through which they can extend their concept of what music is and should be. The release of their album, coinciding with a heavy diet of touring should prove to be the recipe they need to succeed as an accessible, yet respectable pop band with substance.

*** free space is based in Chicago, IL

*** free space was 1 of 5 bands chosen to compete in the Lollapalooza/House Of Blues "Battle Of The Bands"

*** free space was named a "Band To See Live In 2005" by jambase.com

*** free space is a member of the prestigious Home Grown Music Network - an organization that promotes select bands through the aid of hundreds of media resources and street team representatives throughout the country