For Denton electronic outfit Mexican Lions, the name of the game is a few boundaries and a lot of improvisation.
Until they hit the stage or take over a house show — then, the band follows something of a blueprint.
“We definitely like to jam a lot when we rehearse,” band member Abbas Khorasani said. “And when we’re recording, we have very loose parameters. We like to let it happen on its own. When we play a show, we pretty much know what we’re going to be doing, though.”
Mexican Lions assembled in late 2009 when Khorasani and Riley Tunnell got together and started making music with their computers, experimenting with sound. The group has evolved into an electronic act that embraces the fuzzy labels of experimental and ambient music.
Experimental and ambient music involves two big risks — making more noise than music, and getting so ambient with the sound that it becomes aural static, not to mention boring.
“We’re a fan of those things,” Khorasani said of atonal noise and music that can be more background than centerstage. “But we know that there is only so much an audience will tolerate. You try to walk the line between doing the things you like without losing the audience.”
The band plays Tuesday night at the split-tape release of Pocket Change and Ops Esponjah at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, the Denton venue that supports local electronic music most consistently.
In its earlier days, Mexican Lions was taking music by members’ favorite bands — they cite Aphex Twin specifically — and covering their songs live without producing a rote imitation. The group has evolved into a primarily live act that has a few tunes online and plans to slip into a Panhandle House studio this weekend to make something — a full-length album could come of it, Khorasani said.
Mexican Lions integrates some Eastern sounds into its music, a product of Khorasani’s Iranian-Pakistani heritage. The musicians are keen on the 1980s analog drums and bass, too, owing to the authenticity of the sound. Electronic can sound plastic and flimsy enough without digital effects wrapping a project in shiny cellophane sound.
“It feeds into the whole ambient thing we do. It’s really an ideal musical palette for us,” Khorasani said.
Khorasani and band mate Ryan Pivovar both studied in the University of North Texas College of Music, where Khorasani, who studied guitar, said he admired much of Pivovar’s solo work as a composition student.
Electronic music could be considered a stepkid in Denton’s indie music circles.
“I wouldn’t say the scene is growing in popularity, but I think it’s growing in creativity. It’s growing horizontally, I’d say,” Khorasani said.
They’re with the band: Abbas Khorasani, synthesizer and vocals; Riley Tunnell, software, synthesizer, guitar and voice; Ryan Pivovar, software, synthesizer and vocals; Carl Solomon, saxophone, bansuri and flute. Jon Quam occasionally puts together video for the band’s live gigs.
Details: Pocket Change and Ops Esponjah split-tape release party with Vulgar Fashion, Yeahdef, Mexican Lions and Bloodwitch, on Tuesday at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios, 411 E. Sycamore St. Doors open at 9 p.m., and the music starts after 10 p.m. Cover is $1 for everyone of drinking age, $3 for everyone too young to buy alcohol.
— Lucinda Breeding