Bill Orcutt

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Location

  • San Francisco, CA

Artist Biography

Born in Miami in the year of Cuban missile crisis and educated in Florida's finest institutions, Bill Orcutt is usually recognized as the co-founder of the band Harry Pussy. Formed in 1991 and featuring Orcutt on 4-string guitar—a practice carried over, developed, and refined from circumstantial adolescent experiments in working around absent strings—and Adris Hoyos on drums and vocals, with a second auxiliary guitarist added in in later years, the group's sound centered on its completely unhinged ferociousness. Within those furious eruptions, Harry Pussy drafted the blueprint—combining hardcore punk's brutish speed blended with the art school caterwaul of No Wave—for the next two decades of noise-rock. In five years, they toured of the US and Canada with the likes of Sonic Youth, Dead C, Charalambides and Pelt and produced over twenty different releases on record labels of varying degrees of accessibility, most regularly for the Philadelphia-based experimental music imprint, Siltbreeze.

Twenty years later, Bill Orcutt still only plays four strings, but now they are attached to a vintage acoustic Kay that has withstood enough damage and repair that it requires custom tuning to stay in one piece. Sometimes clanging and ominous, other times mournful and slight, strangely alienating, but simultaneously vulnerable and cathartic, his music is compared with equal frequency to avant-garde composers and rural bluesman.

In 2009, Bill's newly established Palilalia imprint released the "High Waisted" b/w "Big Ass Nails" single followed quickly by the first major statement of his resurgence, A New Way To Pay Old Debts. These initial transmissions provided the aesthetic foundation—unapologetically improvised, bare bones and situational—from which Orcutt's Kay's evolving sonic narrative continues to reveal itself in audible real-time.

2011 saw the release of Bill's most intense and varied full-length suite of music to date, How The Thing Sings (Edition Mego). The album maintains a clear connection to the guitarist's signature interrogation of his instrument up to this point, but also signals a new phase of cautiously employed conventional melody and song structure. With each recording and individual performance, Bill Orcutt continues to discover and invent a wholly unique sonic vernacular built around raw and tortured tone, ragged minimalism, and seemingly inexhaustible improvisational stamina.

Selected Press

No one is playing acoustic guitar like Bill Orcutt right now. No one.

Lars Gotrich writing about How The Thing Sings on npr.org

Quite awe-inspiring, and unlike anything else I can think of.

Byron Coley, Wire Magazine

Anyone can admire the raw soul of his playing and the way he shoots out ideas in real-time, reacting so quickly it's as if he's creating a new language as he speaks it... it's impossible to listen to A New Way to Pay Old Debts without being affected by it.

Marc Masters writing about A New Way To Pay Old Debts in Pitchfork

Upcoming Performances

  • No scheduled performances at this time.