Chris Hornbecker
EVERYONE THINK BACK to summer. It's hard, yes, but try. Think about lying on your back in the grass, and the sun makes light patterns on your eyelids. It's a daydream vivisected by the cloud patterns making shadows on your skin. It's somber, but somehow hotly rhythmic and alive. That's what the Operacycle sounds like--or at least, that's how they'll make you feel.

"If there was music that follows your brainwaves, that's the music I'd like to play. It's a very organic sounding kind of music," says Jordan Hudson, drummer.

The Operacycle's elegant, jazzy grooves began in San Francisco, where Hudson and guitarist Zak Riles moved from their home state of Florida. While there, they met bassist Victwa, the French Canadian Princess, but found the city nerve-wracking. "One day, Jordan came to practice and said, 'I turned the corner and this guy running down the street, bumped into me, and I looked down and was completely covered in blood.' The guy was either just beaten or stabbed and he had a group of other guys chasing after him. At that point you could just see it in Jordan's face: 'I don't want to be here anymore. This isn't what I'm about,'" says Victwa. The band only played one show before they moved to Portland in 1999. Since then, they've released one LP on Hush Records, and appeared on various self-titled and split EPs. Last autumn, they toured the US and played the College Music Journal (CMJ) music festival in New York.

The Operacycle's dusky, hypnotic music is primarily instrumental. There's simply no need for vocals; their guitars sing a communicative melody, and their drums are acute, yet easy--subtly textured beats that balance technicality and danceability. "I'm so into the groove. I would play funk all day and all night if I could. But funk and grooving music doesn't really fluctuate as far as mood is concerned. I like pushing back and forth between music that evokes a certain mood and music that you can just dance to," says Hudson.

The subdued storminess of the Operacycle has much of its roots in the interaction between the smooth, high-end guitar that Riles plays and the turbulent hum of Victwa's bass. "I think it's the same thing as being in a relationship with someone. When you kiss someone, you can tell how different their kisses are depending on their mood. Music is the same thing," explains Victwa. "It's on the same level as kissing or fucking or whatever." Similarly, to the listener, the music they write sounds deeply personal--quite a feat for a band without lyrics. They're also an instrumental band that never gets boring--yet another feat--perhaps because of their aforementioned affinity for funk and jazz. "You can compare music to film in a way; the way it's timed and the way you edit it in certain parts. You have to make good edits," says Riles. This understanding makes it so they can create long, fluid songs without being redundant.

While the Operacycle can be very contemplative, their music is still oh-so-danceable. And they want you to. Hudson says, "I wish people would dance. Goddamn. If I wasn't playing drums, I would be fuckin' dancin'! If it were up to me, everybody would be having a really good time and showing it."