Austin’s Golden Dawn Arkestra are the type of heady musical collective that could only exist in a town filled with musicians. Fronted by local scene veteran Topaz McGarrigle aka Zapot Mgwai, this group consists ten or more musicians and dancers. This may explain why the band doesn’t tour outside of Austin much, as their live performances are known for being grandiose, mind-expanding productions. If the band’s name rings a bell, it’s something of a tribute to the experimental jazz and cosmic philosophy of the late Sun Ra, and this group proudly pulls influences both in style and sound from his own Arkestra.
With their recent live performances the band has moved into more cosmic territory, channeling a sort of space funk vibe mixed with psychedelic jazz and Afrobeat. Now the band has taken their otherworldly sound to the silver screen with their own short performance film “Ascension Acres”, which we are excited to premiere on Glide today. The strange video brings to mind the spaghetti western surrealism of Alejandro Jodorowsky, but fuses it with the primal energy of a traveling circus. In filming the video, the band sought to show people who haven’t seen them live the amazing visual aspect of their performances. But instead of just shooting a live show they decided to make a short film documenting the supernatural events that surround the Arkestra, while also including live footage of a secret show they performed deep in the Texas Hill Country.
Staying in character and reflecting on the inspiration for the film, the Arkestra has this to say:
“Zapot Mgawi fell deathly ill and during this sickness he had visions of a ritual in the hills of central Texas. In this vision the Golden Dawn Arkestra transported themselves and the entire audience to a different dimension through the use of song and dance. The following is the documentation of these experimentations.”