SALT LAKE CITY — In sharp contrast to the form and function of the quintessential daily grind, local band Koala Temple is making stream-of-consciousness garage rock that celebrates the Dionysian side in all of us.
Craig Murray and Taylor Clark met and started playing in a band together a few years ago, but they soon left that group and began pursuing their own music together. Through a friend who owned a studio in Park City they were able to record their first album, “Did You Like a Puppy?” With no set plans, the duo recorded eight songs that night, playing whatever felt right in the moment, a way of playing that has become their signature.
After that night, they added bassist Josh Brown and the name Koala Temple. They have since done two recordings, with each becoming more refined and better produced. The group's last album, “Blue Milk,” was recorded at Sound Cave Productions and mastered by Andrew Goldring, a musician and engineer Murray says is changing the Salt Lake music scene for the better.
“He’s the most affordable and easy to work with sound engineer in Salt Lake City, in my opinion. Because of him, more bands are able to record at a more affordable rate,” Murray said.
Though the production of the group's music has changed, its mentality of making music that comes from the hip has continued. And this philosophy is at the very core of what makes Koala Temple's music its own.
“I don’t think anything should be too contrived. I write about 50-50 now, where I’ll write about half the lyrics to the songs, and then in the studio the other half is just kind of spur-of-the-moment. But I really love it that way,” Murray said.
Koala Temple may have been cut from the same cloth in terms of improv as a way of operation as pianist Bill Evans, who is most famous for his work with Miles Davis on what many consider the greatest improvisational album of all time, "Kind of Blue." Evans related improvisational music to a Japanese art form in which the artist is forced to be spontaneous.
“The resulting pictures lack the complex composition and textures of ordinary painting, but it is said that those who see well find something captured that escapes explanation. This conviction that direct deed is the most meaningful reflection, I believe, has prompted the evolution of the extremely severe and unique disciplines of the jazz or improvising musician,” Evans said.
Similarly, in Koala Temple’s music, an indisputable magic is held within the spontaneity: something quite impossible to relate, but still undeniably felt.
Koala Temple has been active amid the live music scene in Salt Lake City, playing all over the Salt Lake area. But Murray says one of his favorite places for local musicians is Diabolical Records. Along with Sound Cave Productions, Murray says, Diabolical Records is helping the music scene of Salt Lake beyond measure.
“They are one of the few places that’s changing the music scene. It’s enabling more people to play shows that wouldn’t be able to otherwise. It’s allowing more people to come and see more shows for free. ... That’s probably the most beneficial asset to the city’s scene right now,” Murray stated.
Koala Temple’s infectious rock is available on Bandcamp, and its next show will be announced later.