Upsilon Acrux
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Upsilon Acrux


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"L.A. Show Review (1/14/08)"

Upsilon Acrux is known around town as one of the top-notch proggy-sounding noise acts. By the time they took the stage, there were maybe 100 people in Spaceland, a fair showing for a Sunday night. I hadn't seen them since July, and I forgot how much I liked them. They're not the most approachable act in town, but I think their music is more accessible to listeners less familiar with the genre than some of their contemporaries; you could take your Normal friends to see this band and they might be surprised.

What really strikes me about Upsilon Acrux is their technical proficiency. I can't begin to conceive how a member of a band like this knows how to follow the other instruments and play his part right. The mental acrobatics required, in conjunction with the dexterity to work the instrument... it just astounds me. And god, their drummer. Good lord! Maybe if you hang out in tiny clubs downtown or old-school rock clubs on the west side, you'd be unimpressed. But in my personal experiences, he is the best drummer in Los Angeles. - Classical Geek Theatre

"Album Review (5/07)"

Emperor Joseph II of Austria famously complained to Mozart about one of his early operas, "Too many notes, Herr Mozart!" and there was nothing poor Wolfgang could do about it. If he were alive today, Mozart could just join a "brutal prog" band and play all the notes he wanted. Although some people might lodge the good Emperor's criticism against the Los Angeles instrumental quartet Upsilon Acrux based solely on the first twenty seconds of its fourth album, Galapagos Momentum, the virtuosity-as-narcissism argument doesn't hold up so well here. Upsilon Acrux doesn't care for masturbation. Instead, the band's into four-man hardcore alien sex, using warp-speed guitar tapping and athletic drum/bass maneuvers to lock in and then orgasmically bust out of rhythmic and harmonic prog pretzels.

... weird and playful and glowing, a much-needed antidote to the normally sober world of instrumental progressive rock. -

"L.A. Show Review (8/26/07)"

I heard about the Vista, CA band Upsilon Acrux from someone who touted their technical mastery and intricate prog-rock style. I found their record Last Pirates Of Upsilon, and from the first moments of “Numbquon” I was fascinated. Their set last evening was the brutal polyrhythmic mindfuck I imagined it would be. Two guitarists with flawless two-handed tapping techniques, a keyboardist running his Moog through a Roland Space Echo and an ferocious drummer. - Swan Fungus

"Interview Excerpt (9/07)"

Upsilon Acrux: Limos, Yachts and Handjobs

What makes you a maximist band?
PL: I said that when I was much younger. Like ten years ago. At that time, a lot of bands were all about minimalism—or they weren’t really, but they liked the phrase. We thought the opposite—we wanted to use everything we had, to be really busy while we were playing. I think we enjoy going at it. Not that I don’t enjoy minimal music—Tony Conrad really did change my life. He’s amazing when he plays—except he has this weird sheet, and he stands behind it with a light to project his shadow. I’m sure in a much smaller place with a lot more drugs, it’s probably fucking awesome. The best part of the show was Danny DeVito and his whole family were in front of me. He gave Tony Conrad a standing ovation—Danny and Rhea Perlman and their son—and I wanted to pick them up and hug them. Gently. They loved it and the kid loved it.
- L.A. Record

"General Review (7/08)"

Upsilon Acrux are in a class by themselves. Ahleuchatistas might come close, but, no...

They released a record called Galapagos Momentum last year - full-on volcanic shimmering beauty.

All instrumental prog-robot-jazz-spastic-calculus. Shreds of Larks' Tongues/Red-era King Crimson at thier weirdest and heaviest, Steve Hackett-esque fret-tapping, guitar and drum macrame braided RNA strands with the Naked City-informed electroconvulsive therapy turned up to eleventeen.

It's the next best thing to eating Good'n'Plenties with Uncle Aliester while watching tiny jellyfish dance in fast-forward.

I could go on, but... -

"Show Review (12/2/07)"

This however is the point of both bands, and having them share the Main Stage at The Knitting Factory spells chaos in every direction. Knowing little more than the cover of the Rush’N’Attack theme (Konami, 1985) featured in last year’s Power Up! Mutations and Mutilations of 8-Bit Hits compilation, I walked into the venue with a blank opinion on these noisy-musicians that use the name Upsilon Acrux. What I got was a diverse mixture of Nintendo sounding rock that got my feet moving and head twitching. Energy and passion is hard to get sometimes from a band with no lyrics, but these guys have it. - L.A. Record

"Story/Interview (2/08)"

Bottom of The Listings, Top of The World

Beyond the museums of the mighty Sunset (and its tributaries) lurks Upsilon Acrux and the theoretical possibilities of rock 'without all the bullshit repetition'


Just don’t call it “avant” or “experimental.” “We’re now a more straightforward type of rock band,” says Paul Lai, “It’s like metal and rubber – we’ve just enough melody to give a grip.” I’m sitting in UA’s rehearsal space on E. Seventh Street with Lai and drummer Chris Mezler, as the guitarist unpacks what sounds like an old complaint “You saw us recently and it’s probably more rock in our presentation than we’ve ever been. We’re what rock would theoretically sound like without all the bullshit repetition.”

That Acrux can make do with all that wiggy ya-ya was evident during the Smell’s weeklong anniversary festivities last month. The hour was late and the crowd much attenuated by a massive rainstorm, but a few score patrons stood sopping and enchanted by the band’s aloof professionalism and headlong attack. UA is looser and bluesier than before, but the refusal to truckle to indie neurosis or catchpenny pop lends their live act a ferocity that shreds the easy critical equation of skill with subtlety.

“This band is about no compromise,” Paul is emphatic, “nobody outside this band has any say in what music we play. I don’t know why music has fallen behind other art forms in this. Whatever the vanguard is ... ” Paul lets his voice trail and shrugs, “It’s definitely not bringing in a paycheck. I’m not even bitching, it’s just a fact. This is my fuckin’ life and I see it on a daily basis.” - New Angeles Magazine

"UA's Lai in Nels Cline's Top 200 List"

Here Are 200 Guitarists Whom I Have Admired in My Life

200 guitarists whom i've admired since...1965? Guitarists who affected me, excited me, and/or made me think. Why this list? Why 200?? First, when asked to name guitarists who have influenced me or who i admire, i always toss out a few names and then later experience pangs of remorse for forgetting names -- now i can just say, "check out the list on my website." Second, i believe in giving credit where credit is due.

The number 200 just popped into my head randomly, but it has turned out to be a pretty good estimate. The first 170 or so came easily, jotted down in under two hours during a mixing session for the Destroy All Nels Cline alb. Of course, i inevitably came up with more than 200, but i've decided to limit myself (!) -- for now...

(Included in list): Paul Lai (Upsilon Acrux)

List can be viewed at: - Nels Cline


In addition to contributions to several compilation releases, Upsilon Acrux has released 6 LPs to date, the latest released on May 19th of 2009. UA also plans to release a special European EP to support a fall 09 EU tour.

6) Radian Futura (2009, Cuneiform Records)
5) Galapagos Momentum (2007, Cuneiform Records)
4) Volucris Avis Dirae-Arum (2004, Planaria Records)
3) Last Train Out (2001, Hactivist Records)
2) The Last Pirates of Upsilon (1999, Win Records)
1) In the Acrux of the Upsilon King (1999, Accretions Records)



Originally formed in San Diego, Upsilon Acrux is an instrumental quintet now working out of Los Angeles, California. UA composes and plays a unique style of music, often classified by others as progressive or brutal prog, but retaining the basic energy and drive of straight ahead rock. All five members are capable of, and do, play as lead instrumentalists so that UA shows are intense, uncompromising, and always adventurous.

UA has shared the stage with such bands as The Boredoms, The Ruins, Mission of Burma, the Locust, Don Caballero, Bad Dudes, the Fucking Champs, Dillinger Escape Plan, Anal Cunt, Devin Sarno and Nels Cline, Fred Frith and Chris Cutler, Cattle Decapitation, Black Heart Procession, Crime in Choir, Hella, Marnie Stern, Grand Ulena, Yowie, Flying Luttenbachers, Octis, Orthrelm, Time of Orchids, Ahleuchatistas, Experimental Dental School, Child Abuse, Open City, Polar Goldie Cats, Truman's Water and Mick Barr.

Influences are too many to name, but include Magma, This Heat, John Coltrane, King Crimson, Ornette Coleman, Polvo, Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart, Derek Bailey, the Ruins, Nels Cline Trio, Albert Marcoueur, Van Halen, Fredrik Thodenal's Special Defect, Necrophagist, Don Caballero, Harry Pussy, Faust, Neu!!, Cardiacs, Takemura, US Maple, and Henry Cow.

UA has undergone several lineup changes over the years and would like to acknowledge both previous members as well as many guest musicians as integral to the development of the "Upsilon" sound.

Over the years, UA lineups have included Jesse (Klecker) Applehans on drums, Derek Bruns on drums, Eric Kiersnowski on bass, Nick Lejejs on moog, Braden Miller on guitar, Cameron Pressley on guitar, Josh Quon on bass, and Muir Tennerstet on bass.

Guest musicians have included Bobb Bruno on guitar, Mark Cisneros on tenor and soprano sax, Christiaan Cruz on alto sax, Mike Flowers on muted cornet, Glen (Galaxy) Galloway on baritone sax, Dan Munoz on pocket trumpet, Rob Pash on trumpet, Devin Sarno on bass. Anyone omitted is a sign of UA senility, not intention.