Material: Experimental rocker Jason Achilles Mezilis has an unmistakable, positively unique sound that you can easily hear a mile away. The multi-instrumentalist, producer and engineer—best known for his gritty, organic instrumentation and impressive pedal dancing—plays guitar, bass and keys simultaneously whenever he performs live. Accompanied by drummer Forrest Mitchell on cajon for this particular show, Mezilis mesmerized the packed-to-the-gills Der Wolf crowd with his short set, and followed up his stripped down show with a highly informative talk about his consultant work with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (Mezilis is actually helping to develop a microphone system for the Mars 2020 rover.)
Musicianship: An incredible musician and a connoisseur of tone and effects, Mezilis has the ability to play sweeping solos, but he elects to concentrate more on the actual song at hand, not how fast he can get to the next riff. His sense of arrangement, and the way he builds upon each song is perhaps his best quality. Though he doesn’t usually incorporate vocals into his work, the music itself tells a story all on its own, and takes you on a retroflexed journey that ebbs and flows with amazing fluidity.
Performance: Just as impressive as his musicianship is Mezilis’ ability to trigger effects, create grandiose soundscapes and produce loops to solo over on guitar. With his mad scientist-esque hair and space-agey sound, he is 100 percent the guy you’d expect to be developing microphones for Mars. Mitchell was a very nice addition on cajon, although it really would be something to see a full band backing Mezilis. For this particular crowd and space, however, it was just what the mostly CalTech and JPL-populated venue needed for their Astronomy on Tap series, which featured speakers in the science realm, like Mezilis. Hopefully we’ll hear some sounds from Mars on one of Mezilis’ future recordings.
Summary: Jason Achilles Mezilis is an artist who can be dropped into just about any situation and draw in even the most listless crowd with his innovative, avant-garde tunes and dexterous playing. Most instrumental music fades into the background, but Mezilis demands to be heard and watched. He isn’t doing the typical over-playing and flashy riffing characteristic of a lot of instrumental artists; he’s composing conceptual art. This is purposeful chaos at its finest.
Contact: Kelly Walsh, [email protected]
Players: Jason Achilles Mezilis, vocals, guitar; Forrest Mitchell, cajon