Amoebic Ensemble

  • Amoebic Ensemble
  • Amoebiasis (Stupeur & Trompette) 1988 
  • Limbic Rage (Over the Counter) 1995 

Providence, Rhode Island’s instrumental Amoebic Ensemble is a peculiar beast — a huge group (usually eight people) playing mostly acoustic instruments (except for electric violin and mandolin) and assorted metal detritus to create something of a bizarre old-time Weimar clinkety-clonk. Accordionist and main songwriter Alec K. Redfearn is one of the greatest song-titlers alive (Limbic Rage offers, among others, “Owls Are Actually Very Stupid,” “Waxing Neuralgic” and “Gimme a Buck or I’ll Touch You”), and his themes are pretty great, too: “Repetitive Motion Sickness” is a twisted Brecht-Weill-ish tango for people with an unusual number of feet. Instrumentally, on “Boilermaker,” Redfearn’s accordion parts knit neatly with Laura Gulley’s violin lines.

After Limbic Rage, there was a three-year gap before the Amoebic Ensemble’s next release; the brain-bending tales of desperation and substance abuse in an interview Redfearn did with the zine Wingnut help to explain why.

[Douglas Wolk]