Underwater Airport is an improvising and recording multimedia ensemble combining music and projected visuals for the purpose of creating spontaneous portals into alternate space-time dimensions. Underwater Airport extends its antennae into the aether, pulling in transmissions from the Great Beyond. Drawing inspiration from such diverse sources as shamanic trance music, 1960's free jazz and psychedelia, ambient electronica, and world beat, the band's members have practiced individual and collective improvisation in diverse settings far longer than they can remember.
In the studio Underwater Airport focuses on constructing consciousness-shifting music and video utilizing Ableton Live for audio and Livid Instruments Cell DNA for video, among other analog and digital tools.
Peter Spellman - Drums, Percussion, Guitar, Keyboard
Peter found his way into music as a guitarist in various NY bands and then switched to drums after seeing the Police perform in the late 1970s. Since then he's performed and recorded with reggae outfit, The Mighty Charge, world music ensemble Friend Planet, and now with the Underwater Airport crew. He's scored films for the National Science Foundation, composed video games for Massachusetts General Hospital, and coaches music entrepreneurs as Director of Career Development at Berklee College of Music. With the poet Carlyle, Peter believes the deeper we see into nature, the more we realize that all is ultimately music. Find him at mbsolutions.com.
Russell Lane - Drums, Percussion
Inspired by some ill-fated combination of the Monkees television show and his big sister's American Bandstand addiction, Russell began playing drums at the age of 10. After an undergraduate career studying and performing the classical art music of the 20th Century, Russell returned to his first love, the American drum set, and has never looked back. A lifelong student of music and drumming, he has been a constant presence in the musical community of Boston's north shore for the last 25 years.
Jim Whisenant - Bass, Stick, Laptop, Percussion
Jim's been playing bass and bass-like instruments for longer than he can remember, which speaks to either his dedication or his memory. He remembers listening to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Johnny Winter, then migrating through the English prog-rock catalog a little while later with local Wisconsin bands. Still later, at Berklee, he learned about Miles, and Coltrane, with equal interest in their legendary bass players. Not content to just play his instruments, he's also made some of them.
Lynda Stephens - Soprano and Alto Sax, Electronic Wind Instrument
Lynda is a multi-instrumentalist whose quest for variant soundscapes has led her through many bands and ensembles to her current runway in Underwater Airport. Embracing technology has been a passion and the electronic wind instrument fuels her search for new sounds, while the soul of her playing still comes from her Soprano and Alto Saxes.
Marc Lisle - Video Projection, Laptop, Electronic Wind Instrument, Percussion, iPhone
Marc earned a BFA in painting at the University of Florida before computers were installed in the College of Fine Arts, and after 10 years of post-graduate desktop publishing experience, he taught a variety of computer graphics courses at The Boston Architectural College and Pine Manor College from 1996-2004. He began experimenting with digital video and VJ presentation software in 2004, and has provided live projected video mixes for performances of The Free Range Experiment at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and the collaborative dance & prepared piano performance "2T Shadow Worlds" (with Sarah Slifer & Stephen Hastings-King) at the Tank Space in New York City. He has also begun exploring the layering of sound textures with electric wind instruments such as the Akai 4000, as well as his iPhone's ocarina app.
Ed Blomquist - Guitar, Bass, Oud, Synths, Laptop, Loops, Flutes, Percussion, Voice
Ed approaches the guitar as a hybrid between a meditation cushion and an interstellar kayak. He also enjoys making noises with other acoustic and electronic devices.
What does "Underwater Airport" mean?
The name revealed itself to Ed one day, for no apparent reason other than it wanted to be manifested. In pondering what it might mean, a few thoughts have come to mind...
Both the underwater and the aerial realms are strange, beautiful, and somewhat dangerous places, inhabited by curious and fantastic creatures, affording extraordinary visions... Although they are located nearby, we humans aren't really designed to live there... But we can visit them for relatively short periods of time, relying on clever, almost magical, technologies to carry us there and back, and to keep us safe on our travels...
In this way, Underwater Airport represents a kind of mythical alternative universe that's familiar and (mostly) friendly, but also only accessible by means of a transformative, shamanic journey... And that is a pretty good description of what it feels like to play this music... And we hope to listen to it as well...
For the Curious, a bit of Band History
Ed and Jim met in Boston in around 1992 or 1993, when Jim's band Augusta Furnace engaged Ed as their music lawyer. They started jamming together after discovering a mutual love of King Crimson and Bill Frisell, and have been performing and recording together ever since under a number of project names and with a number of co-conspirators.
Ed, Lynda and Jim began playing together in 2000, when they formed Free Range (later renamed The Free Range Experiment) with Dave "D.C." Beemon on drums. Lynda left Free Range shortly after 9/11, and Jay Havighurst joined on sax, synths, experimental instruments of his own design, and many more unusual sound sources. Dave, Jay, Jim and Ed went on to play a lot of shows, and record a lot of sessions, culminating in the recording of a full-length CD "Levitation" in 2003, which was recorded at Berklee with engineer Mark Wessel, thanks to a Berklee Faculty Recording Grant. That record hasn't been released yet, but hopefully will be very soon. If you're curious about The Free Range Experiment, check out D.C. Beemon's Free Range page or The Free Range Experiment MySpace Page.
Somewhere along the way, Ed met Peter Spellman, since both were working at Berklee College of Music, Ed teaching in the Music Business/Management Department, and Peter running the Career Development Center. Peter and his friend Mark Golding (keys and synths) had been playing together as "Friend Planet" for many years, and Ed started jamming with them. They played a number of shows together, and recorded a lot of cool rehearsal tapes, some of which may eventually see the light of day now that it is so easy to distribute records digitally.
Also jamming with Friend Planet on occasion was guitarist Jim Buhrendorf, whom Ed had met while working at the local Guitar Center in 1997 while taking a hiatus from law practice. Ed, Jim and Jim (confused yet?) began playing with Russell Lane on drums, after Ed and Russell randomly met through a mutual online acquaintance who shared an interest in North African music. This quartet performed a number of shows under the names "Dust Devils" and "Whistle Bone" in 2003-2004. There are a few videos from that period on our YouTube channel. Here are some comments from the audience on the June 22, 2004 Whistle Bone show at Berklee's David Friend Hall:
"It's very nice to finally see some different kind of music being played here at Berklee ... thus is the magic of improvisation."
"... one of the most innovative concerts I've attended so far. Great, great music!"
"It was great ... I especially liked the use of the Chapman Stick."
In 2005, after the dissolution of Whistle Bone, Ed, Jim and Jim (OK, we're confused now) recorded a CD of 'pastoral electronica" as Rivers & Skies.
At some point (the time line is blurry), Ed invited Russell to join in some Friend Planet sessions at Peter's house. The first time Russell walked in, there was one of those magic "small world" moments. Amazingly, Russell and Peter had gone to high school together on Long Island, and had lost touch over the years. The strange coincidence of the two of them being reunited through a relatively random Internet connection was not lost on the group. This felt like something that was "supposed to happen"...
At some other point (Sept. 2000), Ed met Marc through the online forum on the Planet Gong website, where they discovered that they were both going to see Gong at the House of blues in Cambridge. They have been fast friends ever since... Ed invited Marc to project video with some late-period Free Range Experiment shows, and the rest, as the say, is mystery...
More to come as time permits, and more time passes.