Technology consistently has expanded possibilities. In the case of Arpetrio, which plays Cosmic Charlie's on Saturday, it took a pretty standard power trio and turned it into something greater.
"When we first started, we were just a drum set, bass guitar, electric guitar," drummer Wes Taylor says, recalling the days before the group started incorporating synthesizers and computers into its aural aesthetic. "From where we started to where we are now, I couldn't imagine it at all."
The Nashville-based triumvirate of Taylor, Alex Mindermann (guitar) and Trent Little (bass) first came together in 2007 at the University of Tennessee. A year later, the group had a heck of a first show, playing an afterparty for 400 people following a performance by popular jam band Umphrey's McGee's at Knoxville's annual Sundown in the City concert series.
While the band members cite a variety of influences, they all knew they wanted to fuse electronic music with live instrumentation. With the addition of a keyboard and synthesizer, and later music production software like Adelton and MIDI, the band essentially hit a gold mine, fueling its creative process and allowing it to take great strides in cementing its sound.
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"We just meet up with ideas (on laptops) and just form the songs out of them," Taylor says.
From its first EP in 2010 to its most recent album, Catch the Vibe, released in October, Arpetrio has crafted instrumental tracks incorporating everything from reggae, rock and jazz to hip-hop and house, making its productions more crisp and lavish while occasionally injecting elements like Tennessee-based guest vocalists and MCs. It has shared the stage with notable peers in the electronic music and jam band scenes, such as RJD2, Shpongle and Papadosio, and played numerous festivals on the East Coast.
Taylor said the primary objective of Arpetrio on recordings and stage is to get people moving. But he said the nature of its live show occasionally makes some onlookers stop in their tracks and simply observe how the sounds are made.
Some fans "like the fact that there is just three of us up there, having a whole DJ setup up there but us controlling it through the entire set," he said. "Everybody is multitasking."
The band continues to get a distinct thrill combining elements of the human and the digital into an often entrancing and exhilarating sound. But if you ask the players involved, they've just scratched the surface of where they could go.
"It's always good to try to push yourself into unfamiliar territory," Taylor says. "That's the good thing about music. You can literally do anything you can think of."