Violent Squid Spray Their Ink One Last Time

It's highly possible this year's 35 Denton will be your last chance to see Ty Stamp lead his experimental supergroup, Violent Squid, on a sonic journey. He recently moved to Austin, and is driving up to play the March festival. This type of improvisational jamming can feel obligatory to witness, if not awkward, but Stamp manages to do it right.

Since 2004, he's been playing shows with varying lineups assembled from some of the best DFW (but mainly Denton) musicians around, and this upcoming show's roster, he says, is the best he's ever put together.

Filling the vocal role is Sarah Alexander, and if you've never heard her sing, you're missing out on something special. It's frightening, mesmerizing, controlled operatic chaos.

Aaron Gonzalez of Yells at Eels and Akkolyte, Bobby Weaver of the Paper Chase and Jeff Barnes of Brave Combo will be playing stand-up bass, bass and an arsenal of horns, respectively. This is just one orchestral theme within Squid's sizable dynamic complexity. There are at least eight more highly skilled musicians taking the stage with Stamp at 35 Denton this year, with a variety of different instruments, effects processors and random objects used strictly to make interesting noises within the makeshift grooves, so please forgive my brevity on roster discussion.

I caught up with Stamp at Echo Lab studios in Argyle, just south of Denton, as Justin Collins was mixing down the latest Violent Squid record, a double album called Day Wants Empty, which includes all of the musicians from his upcoming show. It says something fundamental about him that he is spending his last evening in Denton in a studio before departing for Austin in the morning. It feels like a loss for Denton.

"We've gotten a lot of Krautrock comparisons, Can and stuff, but there's also some jazz elements," Stamp says. "So I guess it's kind of a Krauty-jazz thing. We've also gotten comparisons to Sun Ra."

None of his comparisons seem wrong, but they don't seem totally right either. All of the aforementioned artists' influences are present in Squid shows, but at the same time, the journey they take you on is from a different map.

I ask about past memorable bandmates, and he pauses. "I don't know if there's any real highlights," he says. "I mean, like I said earlier, this current group is probably the best. Like, whoa."

He pauses again as Collins cranks up a particular breakdown on an untitled 15-minute track. It's as though hearing it this time, in conjunction with my question, has connected all of the dots for him, finally allowing him to see how special the project really is.