Swimming in Bengal – May 10 & June 8



After a few months of laying low, Swimming in Bengal comes up to the surface for some spring air.  Allergies are great.  We are joining forces with our freaky buds Art Lessing & The Flower Vato on Friday, May 10, at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento.  Linda Hardy will be sitting in with us.  More details at Facebook.  A month later, on June 8, we’re sitting in traffic on the causeway to play with our Oakland buds Grex at Armadillo Music in Davis.

A couple of months ago Swimming in Bengal recorded a session with an ensemble that featured five other players, in addition to the core three.  We’re excited to get this beast mixed and out to the world!



Some of the Bengal ensemble players: Hardy, Ernst, & Reed.  Picture by Greg Hain




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Sunwatchers/Sizdahkhani/ Monypeny/Kazakgascar


Hello.  It’s been awhile since I’ve posted something here.  I’ve been reorganizing and reassessing my music mess somewhat.  I’m trying out the idea of San Kazakgascar being a more fluid group of collaborators, and less of a constant 4-piece band.  I’m proud of the music that the original Brewer/Takushi/Hain/Woo line-up made for several years, but am curious about what else lurks behind the magic curtain.

Other recent mischief includes a duo recording with nuclear drummer Jon Bafus.  Expect a little EP from that in the near future.  Swimming in Bengal recently recorded with an ensemble of guest players and it sounds wonderful.  We are in the early stages of going through the improvisations and picking out the best plunges.

Back to Kazakgascar.  We are playing on a stacked bill on March 22 at Gold Lion Arts at 7:30 pm.  More details at Facebook.  For this show, we have myself, Rachel Freund on clarinet, Joss Lucio on percussion, and the mighty anchor Greg Hain on bass.  I’ve played countless show with guitarist/oud player Derek Monypeny.  He is always challenging himself with new directions and is touring/collaborating with Iranian-American percussionist Sahba Sizdahkhani.  I’m looking forward to hearing their stuff.  Back from Brooklyn are Sunwatchers, who played a great set here last year.  They just released a new album called Illegal Moves on Trouble in Mind Records which combine elements of art punk, prog, avant jazz, psych, and probably other things I can’t necessarily get my head around.  I threw out a few questions to sax player Jeff Tobias to get a better understanding.




1. When Sunwatchers came together was there an agreed upon vision for the band or was it more, “Let’s see what happens?”
When Sunwatchers began to perform live, three of us – myself, Jim, and Jason – had already been playing music together in various incarnations for about ten years, primarily in an Athens, Georgia-based band called Dark Meat. The initial iterations and collaborations that we began to put under the Sunwatchers banner had more in common with the harsh drone music of La Monte Young and Phill Niblock than the energy playing / group sounds that we’ve been doing for the past few years. In other words, it was plenty organic and based not on carefully sussed-out negotiations but rather a long-gestating mutual understanding between friends.
2. What non-musical influences contribute to the band’s sound?
This is a great question, because it acknowledges that music can be a response to every sort of stimuli, not just a laundry list of “influences.” The first thing that leaps to mind is our country’s (and our world’s) ongoing social/political climate. We can’t help but feel bitterly furious as we watch our friends and strangers alike suffer under the yoke of neoliberal capitalism’s uncaring and cruel machinations. While we hope that our music delivers cathartic and celebratory moments for our audience, speaking personally, every time I pick up my instrument to play Sunwatchers music, I feel it’s an opportunity to respond to what I perceive as an ongoing war against humanity. Beyond that – I’d say we’re mostly influenced by regional fast food chains (Cook Out in particular) and the short films of “Weird” Al Yankovic.
3. How did the collaboration album with Eugene Chadbourne come about?
Jim McHugh, our guitarist, made his bones running a DIY storefront venue in Greensboro, North Carolina called the Onion Cellar. Eugene had put down roots there, and their meeting was inevitable. Jim will be the first to admit that Eugene’s been a big influence on his guitar playing, and he booked Doc for some gigs at the Onion Cellar way back in the day. They maintained contact over the years, and a few years ago began a correspondence about this collaboration. Doc Chad’s restless spirit is hugely inspiring, and we’re fortunate to stand in the shadow of his several decades of trailblazing noise-making. Hopefully “3 Characters” is the first of several bonkers slabs that we can create together.
4.  What other living musicians would Sunwatchers love to collaborate with if given the chance? (reach for the sky)
To name a few: Aerosmith, Omar Souleyman, Ann Peebles, Boredoms, Evan Parker, Peter Brotzmann, NoMeansNo, Susie Ibarra, Archie Shepp, Nils Lofgren, John Cale, Arnold Dreyblatt, Yoko Ono, Earth, Dirty Three, Carla Bley, William Parker, This Is Not This Heat, Joshua Abrams’ Natural Information Society, Ken Vandermark, Billy Joel, Biz Markie, Yasunao Tone, Roscoe Mitchell, Tony Malaby, Billy Gibbons, Paul Dresher, Carl Stone, Amps for Christ, Laurie Spiegel, Television, Cooper-Moore… Aerosmith again
YokoOno-550x550        brotzmann
I can be knee-jerk to loathe when a band is “NPR/Pitchfork approved”, but in this case I share these hearty endorsements of their new album: NPR Review; Pitchfork Review
Stream, download, order, etc: Sunwatchers
San Kazakgascar
Derek Monypeny
Sahba Sizdahkhani
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Bengal Back in Oakland


Swimming in Bengal returns to Oakland’s Octopus Literary Salon on Sat., Nov. 10.  We play at 7pm sharp.  We’ll be followed by SF’s Virginia Dare, old friends from the golden age of Bay Area independent music. I’m excited to see them again.  Dress warm, prepare to snuggle, and know that the show will be over before bedtime!  More info. at Facebook.





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Mid September Meltdown


Hey there.  I  have two back to back days with performances before we officially tell summer goodbye.  On Sunday, Sept. 16, San Kazakgascar plays a short afternoon set at Sacramento Audio Waffle #47 at the Red Museum.  We are putting together a one and done loud piece for this performance.  The show runs from about noon to 3pm and I believe we are near the end.  This show is put on by the NorCal Noisefest folks.  More details here.

The following evening on Sept. 17 Swimming in Bengal plays Luna’s with N. Carolina-based experimental guitarist Tashi Dorji.  He is a unique talent and we are excited to share the bill with him.  The show starts at 7:30 sharp.  Bengal released a new recording called Deeper Deeper earlier this summer and you can listen to it and learn more here.


Tashi Dorji



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Swimming in Bengal – Deeper Deeper


Deeper Deeper documents the last two years of Swimming in Bengal improvised explorations.  Going through all the different recordings we have, and deciding which ones to use is always a love/hate thing for me.  I guess it’s mostly love, but the overwhelmed part of my attention span is challenged.  In selecting pieces for this album we went for variety and dynamics. The album opens with the sparse “The Spider Who Loved Me”, but melts immediately into the thicker “Molten Ore.”  And up and down we go, throughout the album.

We plan on recording with some Sacramento-based Indian musicians in the near future and Tony also wants to include strings.  We’re excited about the next chapter.  Until then, join us at the deeper deeper end!  You can order the CD or download at Swimming in Bengal’s Bandcamp site.  Later this summer Lugubrious Audio UK will be releasing a cassette version of Deeper Deeper.


Upcoming Swimming in Bengal dates:

July 14 at Adobe Books in San Francisco w/Invasive Species

July 28 at Tribe Fest in Sacramento

Sept 17 at Luna’s in Sacramento w/Tashi Dorji

There are still copies of the Garden of Idle Hands LP at Baggage Claim, Lather, or Revolver.



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Summer Burners


We keep breaking Earth’s average heat records, so why not riff along with that amazing trend?  As you can see above I’ll be doing a few solo electric/acoustic shows as full-band Kazakgascar dusts itself off from hiatus.  SK is going to take a stab at some recording this summer as well.  I usually craft a unique set for each solo show, some more improvised than others.  It can be challenging, but sometimes I’m rewarded with new song ideas for full band style.  I’m especially excited about playing in Arcata’s Community Forest!

Also, Swimming in Bengal will be playing a few times as we release our new recording, Deeper Deeper.  More on “double D” later.

  • The San (S) Kazakgascar Solo EP I recorded with Andy Morin of Death Grips a few years back: Crotch of the Gorge
  • Swimming in Bengal’s vinyl LP on Baggage Claim can be had digitally over at Lather Bandcamp now: Garden of Idle Hands
  • Facebook Events pages: San(s) Kaz Solo 6/23 Portland, Swimming in Bengal 7/14 San Francisco , more later…


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2 Bengal Shows – w/Dire Wolves + Sunwatchers


Swimming in Bengal is kicking off 2018 with two great shows:

Jan 20 at the Octopus Literary Salon in Oakland w/Dire Wolves.  7pm sharp

Jan 25 at Gold Lion Arts in Sacramento w/Sunwatchers and Invasive Species.  7:30pm

We’re excited to return to Oakland’s Octopus Literary Salon to play with some kindred spirit animals.  We’ll be joined by Bay-based Dire Wolves, who dig the deep heady grooves and I like to curl up in.  It’s an early show and you can join as after the Women’s March.  More details available at ze Facebook.


The following week we are back in Sacramento at Gold Lion Arts to play with the mighty Sunwatchers from NYC.  They combine a swirl of psychjam, drone, free jazz, and ethno art punk. They have a new album coming out on Trouble in Mind Records next month.  We’re also excited to be playing again with our buds Jon Bafus and Kevin Corcoran’s percussion duo, Invasive Species.  They don’t bust this out too often, so it’s always a treat.  More relevant specs at Facebook.

For this show, we have two guest percussionists joining Swimming in Bengal – Kishan Raj Kushal and Jay Nair.  In addition to this pair of shows, we are knee deep in messy editing notes trying to assemble the pieces that will make up the next Bengal album.

Get Swimming in Bengal recordings at: Baggage Claim Records, J&C Tapes, Lugubrious Audio, and Lather Records.





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Arrington de Dionyso will be roaring back into Sacramento on Jan. 15 at Luna’s Cafe with Philadelphia-based percussionist Ben Bennett.  I’ll be opening the show with a San(s) Kazakgascar Solo set.  Dionyso and Bennett plan on doing solo sets and a collaboration set.  Arrington will be joining in on my set.  There will also be a short “This Saxophone Kills Fascists” set at the end with local saxy folks joining in.  Got all that?  More crumbs of show info can be had at Facebook.  The show starts at 7:30.



I’m excited to play a show with Arrington again and I’m sure I’ve told you about the Tired Minds Improvised recording we did together.  You can read about it HERE.  I’m always interested to see which ways he is going to push things.  I’ve never seen Ben Bennett play before, but know that he has some unique approaches to percussion.  He also has some notoriety for logging hundreds of hours of sitting and smiling in four hour increments.



San Kazakgascar has kept a low profile this last year, but I’m looking forward to trying some ideas I’ve been chewing on, solo style.  Most of my focus lately has been on Swimming in Bengal, but this is a chance for me to run through the fields buck naked.


Ben Bennett’s Sitting and Smiling

Arrington de Dionyso & San(S) Kazakgascar Solo – Tired Minds Improvised


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Swimming in Bengal plays an early show this Sun, Nov 5, and Gold Lion Arts in Sacramento.  We start the show at 7pm and will be followed by Indian vocalist Jay Nair, who will be accompanied by guitar master Ross Hammond.  You can find more info on this all ages show at Facebook.

Bengal is currently sifting through the beautiful and broken nugs from various recording sessions to put together the next album.  Most of our previous recordings are available at Lather Records.  You can get the latest LP, Garden of Idle Hands, straight from Baggage Claim Records.  Copies of the Insomnia Village cassette from 2015 are all gone, but you can still get a digital copy at J&C Tapes.



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Swimming in Bengal – Back in Sac


Swimming in Bengal plays its first Sacramento show since May on Mon, Oct 9, at Luna’s with the Orion Guitar Trio.  The show starts at 7:30pm prompt and is all ages.  More info at Facebook.  We’ve played some out of town shows the last few months and are excited to get back on the Sacramento horse.  The Orion Guitar Trio features Mathew Grasso .


Get Bengal’s Garden of Idle Hands LP at Baggage Claim Records.

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