Gig Seeker Pro


Band Hip Hop Jazz


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



"Weekender Feature | Melodesiac's debut 'Hands High' redefines hip-hop"

Last year's 'Battle of the Bands' winner's new album is infused with elements of jazz, hip-hop and more

By: Josh Zeidel and Gregory Connor
Posted: 4/5/07

Bursting into the Boston music scene with enough live energy, skill and members for two bands comes Tufts' very own Melodesiac, a nine-piece live hip-hop collective that effortlessly crosses genres and musical styles.

Last April, the band opened at Spring Fling, earning the spot by rocking to the top at Battle of the Bands. "It was great to win Battle of the Bands," senior Lawrence "eLCee" Charles said, adding that they "wished we could have performed later."

Now, Melodesiac can scratch another item off their to-do list: the debut album. The band's 12-track, self-produced and self-released "Hands High" is available for purchase, but the band members are doing more than selling CDs from their dorms or car trunks. Copies will also be available from and the iTunes Store as early as April 9.

Featuring Charles and Robert "Brent" Patterson (LA '05) on vocals, the eclectic group also boasts a horn section made up of junior James Harris (baritone saxophone), senior Nehemiah Green (tenor saxophone), and Yoni Dvorkis (alto saxophone) (LA '05).

With seniors Ben Bornstein on drums, Aaron Mehta on electric bass, Shahan Nercessian playing guitar and junior Arlen Spiro on keyboards, the group provides a refreshing and unique alternative to the often overly-synthetic and over-produced world of mainstream rap and hip-hop.

All that jazz and more

"The heart of everything we do is jazz, whether you hear it or not, from song to song," guitarist Nercessian said. Nercessian and Mehta point to the influence of legendary jazz artists like John Coltrane and jazz-funk groups like Soulive or Joshua Redman Elastic Band. "The thing about the band is that everyone brings their own background to it," Mehta said.

"I'm most strongly influenced by rap acts like The Roots, Mos Def, Common, A Tribe Called Quest and all those guys, and rock bands like 311, Rage Against the Machine and Stone Temple Pilots," Nercessian said.

Mehta affirmed the influence of live hip-hop bands like The Roots on Melodesiac's vision of their band. "Pretty much anyone who plays live hip-hop, at this point, we count as our influences," Mehta said.

"Nas gave me the confidence to do whatever I feel like doing; you know, if I want to sing on a track or rap on a track depending on my mood," Charles said. Patterson, the band's other vocalist, "brings the whole reggae thing, he wrote the majority of the reggae track on the album, and ... Brent was originally more of a singer, a soul thing, he's huge into Curtis Mayfield," Mehta said.

This diverse range of influences gives the band a unique musical identity. Explaining why Nas is his favorite rapper, Charles said he likes that "you can't pigeonhole him as an artist; different albums and even different songs on the same album convey different moods."

Regarding their genre, Charles said, "[In] terms of ... a label, I've been flip-flopping with that idea ... in the beginning I would have said we're a hip-hop band in general ... I would still say that you could call it a hip-hop band, but we have blurred the lines between genres a lot."

Chance meeting gives the band a lucky break

With their individual sound and style, perhaps it was only a matter of time before Melodesiac was noticed by the music community outside of Tufts. One of the band's biggest breaks came "completely by chance," Charles said.

While playing in the Emergenza Festival last year, "one of the judges loved us," Charles said. The judge worked for a company called Nimbit, and whom he encouraged Melodesiac to work with in order to obtain a distribution deal through iTunes and Inclusion in the iTunes Store is a valuable promotional tool not usually open to many up-and-coming college musicians; despite that advantage, Nercessian predicts that many copies of the band's upcoming debut album will still be sold through live shows.

While Melodesiac was knocked out of the Emergenza Festival competition after placing third in the second-to-last U.S. round, it still proved to be a very valuable experience, even if they only distribute a fraction of their total sales online.

The band can't play Battle of the Bands this year due to a rule that excludes past winners, but this doesn't mean Melodesiac doesn't have a bright horizon ahead. The band looks forward not only to playing at Clark University's Spree Day alongside Lupe Fiasco and State Radio later this month, but to their future as a band after Tufts as well.

With five seniors in the band preparing to graduate in a little over a month, it is a particularly important time for Melodesiac, who has "real life ahead of us," Charles said.

Looking to the future, Charles maintains that the band isn't ready to put aside all their hard work and musical ambitions yet, preferring to see - Tufts Daily

"Melodesiac — Hands High"

Melodesiac — Hands High

Recorded at Wellspring Studios, Acton, MA
Engineered by Rob Ignazio and Eric Kilburn
Mixed by Rob Ignazio
Mastered by Eric Kilburn

Melodesiac's debut album, Hands High, treads the line between jazz, hip-hop, neo-soul, and rock. The album's diversity is a testament to the musicianship of the band's nine members. The raw funk horn lines, as well as some dirty grunge guitar leads complement sharp vocal rhymes laid down by Robert "Brent" Brentley and Lawrence "eLCee" Charles. Founded at Tufts University, Melodesiac is comparable to The Roots in the sense that they are a live hip-hop outfit, but have found their own voice musically.

In "Breakdown," the lyrical pair shines when they rhyme about the controversy of Katrina, the woes of racism in America, and other political issues. The rest of the lyrics are not overly politically charged, but these MCs still have a knack for creating intelligent and evocative punch lines. Throughout the album, the pair consistently delivers clever and fluent vocal runs over fast funk tempos and oddly syncopated instrumental punches.

Brent and eLCee, however, are not the only important members of the group. Melodesiac's music stays true to the jazz tradition in that extensive improvisational sections are major staples in their arrangements. The group's founding members Shahan Nercessian (guitar), Ben Bornstein (drums), and Aaron Mehta (bass) lay down a solid rhythmic framework that not only allows the singers to shine, but also allows for the other instrumentalists to stand out as well. It works powerfully in their live show and they've successfully channeled that onstage chemistry here into a fun, energetic studio release. (Self-Released)
-Sam Merrick - Northeast Performer Magazine

"5/5 Star Review for 'Hands High'"

Hands High by Melodesiac
Feb 05 '08

Product Rating: 5.0

A fresh and exciting sound.

Limited geographic recognition.

The Bottom Line
With their album Hands High , Melodesiac has solidified the fact that they are in fact not just talented musicians but are also highly worthy of listening to.

Full Review
Hip hop, jazz, funk and soul. Sounds almost like the next Ben & Jerry's flavor to come to a supermarket near you. But instead of something that melts in your mouth, thanks to the smooth sounds of Melodesiac the music that this band is capable of producing will melt in your head.

Melodesiac has quite quickly taken the Boston music scene by storm. With an impressive finish at the Emergenza Festival, Melodesiac has brought a new and fresh energy and sound to the Boston area and have transformed the energy and success they have found live into an impressive debut album, Hands High . The album is a remarkable fusion of many different instruments and sounds into a cohesively held together album that is worthy of much praise. The band has found a way to step away from the ordinary and instead has crafted for themselves a sound that is not simply unique but also amazingly well produced.

As with any band looking to make it big there is a natural learning curve associated with the production of an album. Though, what sets this band apart is perhaps their appreciation for the history and education needed to truly create a rich and robust sound. The band, predominantly all students at Tufts University, have focused on the study of music in addition to the production of it and the emphasis that they place on the true science of music is clearly evidenced in their album Hands High .

Melodesiac is comprised of Robert Brently (vocals), eLCeee (vocals), Shahan Nercessian (guitar), Arlen Spiro (keys), Aaron Mehta (bass), Ben Bornstein (drums), Yoni Dvorkis (alto sax), Nehemiah Green (tenor sax) and James Harris (barritone sax).

The album starts off the right way on the opening track Come Thru . The track is filled with the perfect sounds to bring the listener into the music of Melodesiac. There is certainly the right balance of jazz sounds that are perhaps created best by the sax involvement on the track. The vocals are matched nicely to the music and the smooth sounds are quickly appreciated and it does not take long for the music to quickly get the listeners foot tapping in a way that will remain steady throughout the album.

Latin One is perhaps one of the best highlights to the album. There is certainly a brilliant infusion of traditional Latin instrumental beats but the vocals on this track are what truly make this track so phenomenal. The vocals are quite varied on the track and range from a very fast tempo to a more direct and methodical sound. The lyrics change on the track between both Spanish and English and the highlighting of the duality of the lyrical languages fits nicely to the entire premise of Melodesiac: that of different musical genres and influences fitting together in a puzzle-like manner into one remarkable sound.

The percussive sounds on the track Follow My Lead are another example of how the band tries something different time and time again on this album yet remarkably comes up with a very well polished sound. The percussive beats are heard readily on this track and certainly give the listener the impression that they are meant to hold together the track. There is a beautiful sax solo midway through the track that is reminiscent of an almost concert hall perfection. The way in which Melodesiac brings sounds such as a saxophone into a more urban and mainstream sound resounds the listener because never does it seem out of place or meant simply to be a filler sound. Rather, the different variations and musical experiences that Melodesiac brings into this track, as well as others, is what will separate this band from others out there who will not gain as much respect.

Track listing:

1. Come Thru
2. Live This Way
3. What They Say
4. Easenin' Spot
5. Latin One
6. Breakdown
7. Interlude
8. So Be It
9. Believe
10. No Man Test
11. Follow My Lead
12. My Melody

Hands High was recorded at Wellspring Studios in Acton, Massachusetts and was engineered by Rob Ignazio and Eric Killburn.

There certainly is not a high recognition for the band Melodesiac at this time, but that is perhaps because they have chosen to focus on a more local and regional base than venture out into the furthest reaches of the Earth. However, thanks in large to the advances of technology and the World Wide Web, there is no reason as to why Melodesiac should not become a household name for you.

With their album Hands High , Melodesiac has solidified the fact that they are in fact not just talented musicians but are also highly worthy of listening to. Their music is intense and their passion is clear once this album is listened to in its entirety. Melodesiac certainly has pro -


"Hands High" - LP - April 2007



Mix nine equal parts of stellar musicianship and diverse experience with a vibrant range of influence and inspiration. Top it off with a heavy dose of unconventional style, and the result is Melodesiac--a magnetic breakthrough collective who meticulously blend hip-hop, jazz, funk and soul into a foot-stomping, head-nodding jam. After reigning in accolades since placing third out of 250 bands at the Boston-area Emergenza Festival, Melodesiac have become a veritable melodic force in the region's music scene. Their live show is a wall-to-wall brannigan of energy and musical brawn, earning the band opening spots for acts such as Lupe Fiasco, Blackalicious and Guster. Named for the crowd's reaction to their charged shows, Melodesiac announce that their highly-anticipated debut album “Hands High” will be self-released on December 4, 2007. Thanks to organ funk reminiscent of Sly and the Family Stone, horn explosions that ring of Curtis Mayfield and a seamless blend of inimitable sound like compatriots The Roots, Hands High is an all-out celebration of all that is good about music.

Melodesiac came together in 2005 at Boston's Tufts University when its founders, Shahan Nercessian, Aaron Mehta and Ben Bornstein, decided that after years of studying musical theory and history, the time had come to contribute. Word of the soon-to-be-band's missionary sound quickly spread around campus, creating a cooperative of seven jazz-trained musicians and a dynamic lyrical duo whose sharp rhymes crackle with fire. Their strings snap, sticks break and feet dance while on stage and in the studio, each member brings their own seasoning into the mix. Their diverse ethnic and geographic backgrounds and personal histories keep the band's sound fresh and true.

The album kicks off with a spellbinding unison of organ, horns and menacing drum beat on opening track "Come Thru." It's a fitting introduction to the Melodesiac myriad of big sounds, limitless style and lyrical grace--the latter thanks to the smooth-flow of front men eLCee and Robert Brentley. On single "What They Say," a dirty southern crunk beat breaks down before exploding into a chorus designed for head banging in a mosh pit, topped with blasting sax to drive it all home. Always evocative, the band's hard-hitting lyrics are put into the spotlight on "Breakdown," a candid exploration of the victims of Katrina, racism and their own experiences that coast over a punchy beat. The album finishes with the electrifying force of "My Melody," finale that showcases Melodesiac's inexhaustible musical muscle.

Melodesiac in full:

Shahan Nercessian (Guitar) Aaron Mehta (Bass)
Ben Bornstein (Drums) Arlen Spiro (Keys)
Lawrence "eLCee" Charles (Rhymes) Robert Brentley (Lullabies)
James Harris (Baritone Sax) Nehemiah Green (Tenor Sax)
Yoni Dvorkis (Alto Sax)

"The raw funk horn lines, as well as some dirty grunge guitar leads complement sharp vocal rhymes laid down by Robert "Brent" Brentley and Lawrence "eLCee" Charles…It works powerfully in their live show and they've successfully channeled that on stage chemistry here into a fun, energetic studio release." -Performer Magazine