- Jay Anderson
Badge Époque Ensemble is a genre-blurring instrumental funk band from Toronto, Canada. Formed from a cast of accomplished improvisers by bandleader Maximilian ‘Twig’ Turnbull (formerly Slim Twig), the group emerged suddenly, with 2 acclaimed releases in 2019. Their body of work so far represents an era-ambiguous collection of woozy, narcotic funk, drawing influence from disparate sources such as 70’s jazz-funk, Tropicalia, prog rock and film music (fittingly, as Turnbull has also moonlighted as a composer for film including having scored 2 documentary features for Oscar nominated director Hubert Sauper).
The band was selected by Bill Callahan to open his cross Canadian tour in 2018, and subsequently toured with U.S. Girls (a group Turnbull has co-produced for many years - several BÉE members were also featured in the incendiary Poem Unlimited era backing band, 3 members now perform live with Andy Shauf). They have begun to establish themselves as an accomplished and mysterious live act. Featuring no lead instrumentalist, they instead conjure a heady collective musicality, weaving inspired passages from flute, guitar, saxophone and keys against a bubbling, percussive foundation.
Aquarium Drunkard featured the group following the release of their debut and described their sound as ‘dusted funk moves drawing inspiration from library music records, electric Miles, and the spaced out hip-hop productions of Madlib, Dilla & Edan’. Pitchfork raves that the Ensemble ‘chart a record collector’s journey from the comforts of classic rock into the bottomless abyss of rare-groove crate digging and private-press psychedelia… Background music that demands your full attention.’
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