The Organic Sound Project
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The Organic Sound Project

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | SELF

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | SELF
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"Organic Entertainment"

In all honesty I cannot claim to be among the higher ranks of the musically educated fanatic within the Allston Pudding crew. As a result my awareness of lesser-known bands, like The Organic Sound Project, is shamefully lackluster. But after experiencing their recent opening set in the basement of The Middle East, I will not soon forget them. First on the list that night of a three-band concert Organic Sound Project walked on stage in a manner and confidence normally exuded by headliners. Consequently the audience (fairly populated for the 9 PM hour) immediately fed into the apparent energy.

Organic Sound Project could be categorized as your average jam band to the general public, but that would certainly not do them justice. Let’s also be honest with ourselves, we who read and write for Allston Pudding are exceptional music lovers and through general principle demand greater examination. The combination of two drum sets, a disciplined bassist, a stoic guitar/violinist, a smooth-as-butter saxophone and an energetic lead vocalist/guitarist in Dan Batista is more than just a jam band experience. The result is a journey that takes a typically spread-out-and-mingle early crowd and morphs it into a jam-the-stage-and-groove crowd.
Batista wasted no time. As soon as the hour of stage time opened up he made sure his band took advantage of every second. Immediately launching into a high-energy ballad, Organic Sound Project had assumed control of The Middle East. The combination of free face painting and cerebrally satisfying hula-hoops infused with bright and colorful LED lights helmed by users far above your typical elementary hula skill level seemed a physical manifestation of the music coming from the stage only furthering the experience on the floor. Despite the fantastical audience interaction there was a more than pleasing sound wave exuding from the stage every time the saxophone was chosen to rise above its family of instruments. There is an elusive and exciting element of jazz instruments typically absent from most modern day bands, but Organic Sound Project showed they know how to “work it”.

By no stretch of the imagination was Organic Sound Project limited to their saxophone. Violinist Dan Levenstein, hidden under the darker corner of the stage, frequently infused the show with his talents in a way that reflected his calm, concentrated body language. Meanwhile directly behind sat drummer number 2 in a beanie and sunglasses effortlessly pounding his notes all the while using his head and torso to dance in his seat. The king of the stage was undoubtedly Batista. His numerous facial contortions adapting to his effort and style of play throughout the show and his frequent knack to involve the audience as much as possible portrayed a real showman genuinely enjoying his craft.

Personally, I feel in any form of entertainment it is absolutely priority that the performers enjoy themselves before they become concerned with their onlookers fun-factor. Batista and the rest of Organic Sound Project did just that. Having never actually heard of Organic Sound Project before, I truly had no idea what I was in for. Once it was all said and done I walked out of the Middle East with a face full of paint, a handful of photographs, and a feeling of pure satisfaction. Typically concerts save their best acts for last. Not tonight.

-Spencer Pazer - Allston Pudding


"The Organic Sound Project: Constantly Growing and Unpredictably Evolving"

In an undeniably diverse Boston music scene, it has taken The Organic Sound Project a matter of months to break out of their infancy and begin formulating their own distinguishable music. Spearheaded by a duo of Dans, Dan Batista and Dan Levenstein, the two have been writing together for years but the group in its entirety rounded out its complete five-piece lineup just a short time ago and are already clicking on many levels. A few weeks ago on December 14th, OSP played at Harper’s Ferry in Allston supporting New England jam veterans The Breakfast. The Friday night started earlier than expected as the band immediately dove into one of their first tunes, “Sunday Morning,” one of the more notable songwriting efforts off of their self-titled EP. Immediate traces to the Dave Matthews Band and the Rustic Overtones were thrown at me, but I was yet to realize just what kind of individuality this band achieves in a live setting. Other early originals like “Time” showcased their keen sense of improvisation and the ability of saxophonist Aiden Rush, while “Tonight” displayed their ability to slow the pace yet maintain a polished groove that leaves space for ample soloing. New tunes such as “Painted Pictures” reassured me that the future is nothing but exciting for this young band as they were once again able to extend themselves to new territories musically while maintaining emphasis on the lyrical front as well. A cover of Van Morrison’s “Moondance” was anything but modest, grabbing the attention of first-timers and keeping more seasoned fans moving and wanting more. A set-ending “Gasoline,” one of Batista’s first works as a songwriter, held the crowd captive to the very last note and assuredly sealed the deal for many new fans. From first listen, it was clear that OSP is one of those bands that cannot be restricted by one specific genre, but rather a group that pulls influences from a number of different realms. This theory became more solid as I was able to catch up with the band for a few questions that same night.



Hey guys! Nice to meet you. Introduce yourselves, who are the Organic Sound Project?

I’m Mike (Rivard), I’m the drummer. I’m Dan (Levenstein), I play violin and guitar. I’m also Dan, Dan (Batista), I play lead guitar and sing lead vocals. I’m Aiden (Rush), I play saxophone and piano, and I’m Eric (Toussaint), I play bass.

Cool, so tell me a little about how you guys came to be.

Dan L: Good question. My freshman year (2006), I was jamming at Northeastern with some guys from my dorm. I was playing violin and my guitar was just sitting unused and Dan B walked by and asked if he could sit in. Apparently Northeastern was setting up some “beginning of school” event and there was going to be some bands there and one of the soundstage workers walked by and asked if we wanted to play. We were like, “yeah man, we’d love to play, but we’re not really a band though.” He didn’t believe us, but we wound up playing a solid 10 minute set. We kind of pulled it out our ass, but I guess it was technically our first gig.

How did the other OSP members come into play?

Dan B: Well after our first gig, the other guys who we played with kind of fell off the face of the earth. I met Aiden in music industry class and he wanted to come jam out with us and then the three of us started writing music together for about a year before we started gigging regularly. Then we met these two clowns (Mike Rivard and Eric Toussaint) on Craig’s List and we held auditions and they were the ones we wanted.

So when it comes to songwriting, is there one principal songwriter or is it more of a collaborative effort?

Aiden: I would say that the main songwriters are Dan B. and Dan L. when it comes to chords and hooks. The thing we all decide together on the most is form and structure. Dan will come with an idea and we can all kind of build off of it. It all kind of changes though, especially when we play songs live.

What are some of OSP’s musical influences?

Mike: For me it kind of goes everywhere from old jazz drummers to some of the great jamband drummers to some more popular drummers that are out there. My influences are pretty broad.

Dan L: I’m a huge Radiohead fan so that’s always first and foremost in terms of influences, but I also grew up playing classical music, so classical violin has always been a big part of my musical taste.

Dan B.: I grew up in a musical family, so I was always used to a lot of different types of music. Actually, my first band was a hardcore band back in New York City, but my main influences really come from the blues, old rock and roll, like Hendrix, Santana, Steely Dan.

Any local or up-and-coming groups on your radar?

Eric: There’s this band, I think they’re on the bill tonight, they’re from Boston called the Organic Sound Project. (Band laughs)

Dan L: I’m a big fan of Spiritual Rez, we played with them on Halloween, they’re great guys. Rubblebucket (Orchestra) kicks ass, they actually just won a Boston Music Award for Live Act of the Year.

Would you describe OSP as a live band before anything?

Dan B.: We always bring something new live, it’s definitely an experience, but we also love our songs and we love recording.

Eric: We’re also really good at dancing, which you might get to see tonight if you stick around.

Dan B: Yeah, he does the Eric boogie. Our X-Factor is that we’re all trained and we can do improv. We’ve been doing it for a long time, so it makes every show different each time we play. I wouldn’t necessarily consider us a jamband in that factor though.

Eric: For as much emphasis as there is on the live part of it, we put a lot of effort into songwriting and structure and dynamic. So I think we’re very conscious of how the songs will develop in the studio as well.

Do you guys have any favorite Boston venues?

Dan B: (Middle East) Downstairs is awesome. We’ve had nothing but great experiences there. This place too (Harper’s Ferry). We’re definitely excited to be playing here again.

As a whole, what can OSP fans expect in the coming year?

Dan B: We got some new music coming out, we’re working on quite a stack of new tunes. We’re going into the studio basically planning on a small release for right now, probably due for late winter or early spring. Then we’ll be working on a full-length in the early fall. Until then, we’re just trying to keep up the energy live and make every experience worth it for the listener.

Thanks a lot guys, and good luck in 2010.




Between the show and the interview, it seems as though a lot is in store for OSP in the future. Continually building off of every songwriting, recording, and live experience, this is a band that is certainly thinking progressively. While they always strive to maintain their own unique sound, they hope to have a bit of something for everyone. Dan B. even hinted (although don’t say it too loud), that the band may be incorporating electronics into their live sound. The Organic Sound Project will be a fun band to watch evolve and progress, both on stage and in the studio. Be sure to check this band out in 2010.
- TeaParty Boston


"The Organic Sound Project- Painted Pictures"

“Experimental” is an adjective that has gradually taken on a new meaning in
the recent history of rock n’ roll. But in an age where almost any group of folks can
pick up instruments and call themselves a jam band, it is this experimentation that
sets the Organic Sound Project a head above the rest of the pack. The group’s new
EP Painted Pictures toys with different time signatures, melds together a collection
of genres, and proves that the band is fearless in their instrumentation. “Miles
Away” seamlessly moves back and forth from Sunday afternoon jazz to forceful
acoustic rock. Aiden Rush’s saxophone makes the track a true album-opener,
providing a unique energy and an alternative perspective on radio-friendly pop. The
Bossa Nova groove of “Stir Crazy” gives irony to the title, being more of a breather
than a frenzy. Despite its laid-back approach, the track displays great attention to
detail between the layered horns, the meticulous guitar solo, and the harmonies of
lead men Dan Batista and Dan Levenstein. The album’s songwriting comes alive in
the title track, “Painted Pictures.” Levenstein’s violin weaves beautifully between
the simple acoustic riffs and the hand percussion, closing out the EP with a
statement. It may be three songs, but it leaves a refreshing taste and a glimpse of
where this group is heading stylistically. While appearance may suggest otherwise,
these guys give as much Radiohead or Broken Social Scene as they do Dave
Matthews or Rustic Overtones. As The Organic Sound Project’s music becomes more
refined and inspired, the picture that they paint is growing brighter and brighter. - Perry Eaton


"C.D. On Songs: The Organic Sound Project - "Stir Crazy""

Many songs reliant upon beat and a soulful nature are said to sit inside "the pocket." This is a musical state of being largely defined by drummers and bassists. This term is invoked when the drummer and bassist are particularly pleased with themselves.

In the case of The Organic Sound Project, the whole band sounds as if they are not in The Pocket but in a well-constructed pipeline where things flow smoothly through the joints and around the bends.Valves open and close, allowing blasts of brass into the system and then pulling them back when appropriate. Everything in this track seems legion, as if some well-orchestrated caper is going on behind the music and TOSP is going to disappear with millions.

The syncopation of this track is what keeps things smoothly moving along. There are no real jagged edges to this track - the brass leads the melody while the rhythm section does this cool descending progression. There's a certain duality - the progression is almost sinister sounding, yet it is brightened up by the twin leads of horns and vocals. The arrangement is enveloping but established enough to not become dizzying, and before we know it, we're all in the pipes with The Organic Sound Project. - Boston Band Crush


"The Organic Sound Project: Melting Painted Faces"

Looking for love in all the wrong places? Well, you should have been at the Middle East Downstairs on Saturday night for The Organic Sound Project’s show. I’m not talking about romantic love here people, don’t be silly. I’m talkin’ ‘bout brotherly sisterly love. Shared love, one love, music-unites-us-all love. The laid back, summery feel of OSP’s music led to an amicable crowd energy and by the end of the show, everyone was holding hands. Okay, I made that last part up, but in all seriousness, people were friendly and chill. It might have been because of the face painting station, or the free glow sticks. Maybe it was the open canvas which crowd-goers were encouraged to paint (see picture below). I have an inkling, though- that the real reason was the projection of organic sound coming from the stage.

The Organic Sound Project is a tender, earthy band that is somewhat of a cross between John Butler Trio and Wilco. They play guitar driven pop-rock which is jazzed up by Jared Burrell’s trumpet. Did I mention there’s an electric violin involved? Dan Levenstein, electric guitarist for the OSP, occasionally replaces his axe with a saw, bringing a country, grassroots feel to the sound. I am a big advocate for the electric violin, which Levenstein plays both arco and pizzicato, because of its duplicitous nature. It can sound soft, sweet, and warm on one hand, and dark, sinister, and melancholy on the other.

There is another Dan in the band, and his name is Dan Batista. Batista is the lead guitarist and vocalist for the Organic Sound Project as well as co-songwriter with Levenstein. Batista’s vocals are shaped very much like John Butler’s.

Speaking of Batista, Dan’s younger brother Tom recently joined the band and on Saturday night he proved he could pull his weight as a percussionist, adding another layer of beats on top of Mike Rivard’s fluid drumming. Also recently joining the band, filling in as interim bassist, was Stewart Jameson of People With Instruments. Jay-mo stuck a feather in his cap and played like there was no one else in the room.

If organic is what you want, you don’t necessarily have to go to Trader Joe’s. You could download a free version of “Stir Crazy” on Allston Pudding (here). Or, you could stop being so cheap and pay for the new EP “Painted Pictures” on itunes (I did, will you?). It’s crunchy. Check it. - Allston Pudding


Discography

The Organic Sound Project EP
Painted Pictures EP

Photos

Bio

The Organic Sound Project is a collective of Boston-based musicians who draw on a broad range of influences across the musical spectrum - from the legendary Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis to the revolutionary Wilco and Radiohead - to create a unique blend of groove tones and pop melodies. They operate under the credo that it is human nature to make art and when multiple individuals put their minds together to create, truly incredible work can emerge. As such, they like to collaborate frequently with other musicians and a night with The Organic Sound Project is host to collective art projects like the open canvas and face painting where everyone in attendance is encouraged to participate in the experience, whether their medium of choice is painting and drawing, photography, dancing, or simply conversation. Above all else, the guys of OSP pride themselves on their live performance - a night routinely structured on high energy compositions accentuated with a healthy mix of improvisation and danceable grooves that will have everyone in the room on their feet.