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Durham-based band D-Town Brass releases its newest out-of-the-ordinary album


Durham-based band D-Town Brass released its newest album “Demiurge” on Dec. 9, 2020, and it is now available in digital and CD format. Photo courtesy of Andrew Magowan.

Durham-based band D-Town Brass cannot be put into a box, and they like it that way.

The band released its newest album “Demiurge” on Dec. 9, 2020, and it is now available in digital and CD format. 

The album showcases the 15-person brass orchestra that plays all original compositions. The band is primarily instrumental, and none of the instruments are guitars. 

Bob Pence, also known as “Crowmeat,” is a reed player and composer for the band and described the band’s music as being influenced by many different styles. 

“We do modern stuff that's influenced by jazz and rock 'n' roll and soundtrack music and whatever else avant-garde kind of stuff,” Pence said.

Andrew Magowan, a composer and key player for the band, said the band started as kind of an accident. 

“I didn't intend to start a brass band,” Magowan said. “I had like two songs that I made up that seemed to suggest that the sound of them will be good with horns, so I just made some phone calls to see who knew who and what horn players I could find.” 

The band originally started off with 10 people. Magowan said their recording session was the easiest he had ever done, even though it was 10 people playing all at once. 

Magowan said the band would come together and do some practices, record and then not see each other for months until they had something new to record. Their cycle worked for them, and they started to accumulate even more members. 

They even found one talented musician in a parking lot. 

Magowan said he thinks the band stays together because of its uniqueness. 

“I think everybody that's in it realizes there's not really anything else like this,” Magowan said. “So that makes it more fun to be a part of, and I think maybe a feeling of like, ‘Well, I should do something to try to keep this thing going too.’”

Ben Riseling, a reed player in D-Town Brass, said being in this group is different from anything he has experienced as a horn player in a band.

“In other bands as a horn player, you often are a side person,” Riseling said. “But in this band, it's just really exciting to come into a band with intricately written parts already made for you and then other areas where you're allowed to improvise, and you're improvising with other people and you're a main part of the actual song, and it's a composition.” 

Magowan said they made “Demiurge” just because they knew there would be a next album, and this was it. The musicians themselves love playing music and call themselves “music lifers.” 

“For whatever reason, there would be no circumstance in my life that would make me stop trying to make music,” Magowan said. 

Riseling said the members of the band are very talented people and take their work seriously. He said one of the reasons the musicians enjoy playing with D-Town Brass is because the music cannot be pigeonholed into any traditional sort of genre. 

Many of the band members have played in different bands before, but Pence said the world does not need another indie rock band. D-Town Brass wants to stay away from the predictable and wants their audience to experience something new. 

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“It makes me happy to make something that can't be imitated and whether you came to be preached at or not, you saw something that is just unique,” Magowan said.

"Demiurge" is available on all streaming platforms, and the group's next album will release this summer.