Eli Keszler ⟡ Salamandra

Galeria Zé dos Bois

Eli Keszler ©Mary Kang

Eli Keszler

“A drumset sits on the stage unaccompanied during these concerts. There is naturally an anticipation for a specific kind of music because of this, and at that a music on spec no one really wants to listen to…? I don’t even really like drum solos funnily enough…”

Despite the latent sarcasm, which can only be honesty, it’s worth pulling out this quote by Eli Keszler from the ‘LIVE 2‘ Bandcamp to situate his appearance. This is the second instalment in a planned series of live and solo recordings by Eli Keszler, and here we find him in his most stripped-down and eminently present form, a tangible reflection of his ability to pull out a wealth of rhythmic, melodic and timbral solutions and plots from the drums and percussion that are full of power and vision. Because Keszler was never “just” a drummer or percussionist. Rather, he is a multi-faceted artist whose work between composition, installation and the visual arts is intertwined in a way that is as natural as it is intricate and continually inquisitive. With nearly two decades of dedicated work under his belt, the American musician has built up a notorious profile, not only in his solo work – which in itself encompasses a wide-ranging panoply of forms and variations – but also in composing soundtracks and pieces commissioned by organisations such as the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra or So Percussion, or in weaving a dense network of collaborations and appearances ranging from participation in the celebrated MYRIAD by Oneohtrix Point Never or Laurel Halo’s Rare Silk Uncut Wood to equal encounters with Rashad Becker, Jandek, Keith Fullerton Whitman or Oren Ambarchi – ‘Alps‘ reached a decade of existence this year and it’s still incredible, by the way.

Incidentally, the latter is perhaps the contemporary name most similar to Keszler in terms of sphere of action, but each with their own panorama. Improvisation, jazz, environmentalism, electronics, drone and a whole indefinable and mutable field between these (and other) languages that has been explored and offered through publishers such as PAN, Empty Editions, ESP-Disk or Shelter Press: from the overwhelming, almost spectral rhythmic fire – Xenakis would approve – of ‘Oxtirn‘ to the hypnotic polyrhythmy of ‘Last Signs of Speed’, from the enclosed space of the strings and percussion of ‘Cold Pin’ to the ever-changing elegance of ‘Stadium’ and, returning to the beginning of this text, the solos of ‘LIVE‘ there is a whole seemingly inexhaustible world yet to be discovered by Keszler. We’ll be here to accompany him. What a blessing. BS


SAMALANDRA is a Lisbon band formed in 2022 by João Neves (drummer), Débora King (keyboardist and vocalist) and Tiago Martins (bassist). All the members have a degree in Jazz, but what brought them together was the desire to go against the grain and explore other approaches to music that reflected the times.

The project resulted from composition sessions based on improvisation and electronics, giving rise to a combination of polyrhythms with hip-hop beats in the style of J Dilla. In this way, the band’s characteristic sound was defined, with influences ranging from Hiatus Kaiyote to Robert Glasper, Beat Music (Mark Guiliana) and Enter The Squigg (Mané Fernandes).

After conceptualising the project and the pre-production phase, they recorded the “SAMALANDRA” EP in early 2023 at HAUS studios. It was recorded, mixed and co-produced by Pedro Ferreira (Yakuza / Quelle Dead Gazelle) and mastered by Luís Lucena (Melquiades / quartoquarto). The first single “ARTIFICIÊNCIA INTELIGENCIAL” was released in June 2023, ahead of the EP’s release in October of the same year. SAMALANDRA are now playing the EP live, having already been to venues such as Carpintarias de São Lázaro, Collect and Tokyo Lisboa, and are constantly creating and exploring new music.

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