Rollerball Catholic Paws/Catholic Pause

Rollerball Catholic Paws/Catholic Pause
Rollerball could be Portland, Oregon’s best-kept secret. For over 12 years now, this evolving group of innovative players have been crafting their unique sound — found somewhere out between dark elegance, dubbed-out post-rock and mind-expanding prog — to hone in on the essence of their visions. Essentially a five-piece that incorporate alto sax, clarinet, accordion and trumpet amongst the standard string instruments and percussion, Rollerball are still staying true to the communal living arrangements the band used to uphold by featuring a wide range of guest players (who add cello, tuba, trombone and the like) on this, their 11th album. As unpredictable as it is focused, Catholic Paws opens with a well-blended succession of five brilliant delay-heavy atmospheric pieces (including the almost-Verve gothic pop of "Erzulie”), which are chock full of dubby production techniques and entrancing rhythms, before giving way to a jarring (and admittedly annoying) vocal track with the Henry Cow-ish "Sores,” and then right back on the spacey track with the funky "Break In Your Neck.” But this is only the half of it — the accordion-led choral track "Tambien” soars with emotional European class, an ascension that continues on the jazzy horn washes of "Jack to Jac” and "Quad Four.” Simply put, this is fresh and exciting music from a band that have paid their dues and could do with a little recognition.

In what direction has the band been progressing as of late? S. De Leon S.: We work all the time because we have the house, which we call the Rollerball house. We like to collaborate a lot with other musicians, so we’re going to try to work on a long piece that adds a string section and a horn section and a rhythm section — different sections in different parts of a big room. I don’t know exactly how we’re going to conduct it, so it’ll be an improvised or semi-improvised piece, conducted probably by [multi-instrumentalist] Mini [Wagonwheel].

Why the name Rollerball? I wasn’t in the band when the name was chosen, but I can tell you that Mini would say he just likes that movie and it seems kind of like what was happening with music at the time, like corporate culture was just completely taking over and everything was — is — being owned by less and less people, which is kind of the premise of the Rollerball movie. And just the independence of it, the fight against stagnation and mediocrity and corporate culture, I guess. I always say I like to draw and I use a rollerball pen (Silber)