Rent Romus’ “The Lords of Outland XV”

by E. "Doc" Smith on December 18, 2009

Founded in 1994, the Lords of Outland is a rotating collective of ensemble members under the direction of saxophonist and producer Rent Romus. Throughout the Lords’ fifteen year history in the spirit of free form experimentation its core roster has changed numerous times featuring guests like John Tchicai, James Zitro, Kash Killion, and many others. The group currently features CJ Borosque on no-input pedals and trumpet, Philip Everett on drums, percussion and electronics, Ray Schaeffer on electric basses, lead by Romus on alto, soprano, C-melody saxophones, voice, and electronics. To commemorate their longevity comes “The Lord of the Outland XV”. Contained in “XV” are live public recordings covering a wide range of original jazz and improvisations, many of which have never been released from 1994-2008, and on disc two, a new full length project recorded in 2009. Other performing artists who have participated in the Lords of Outland include Jason Olain, Vytas Nagisetty, Andrew Borger, Bill Noertker, David Mihaly, Toyoji Tomita, Joel Harrison, Tom Nunn, Doug Carroll, Andre Custodio, Jesse Quattro, and Jonas Westergaard.

Romus is a force spanning over twenty years of D.I.Y. music production, performance, and curation. He is heavily involved in stretching past the confines of standard music forms performing his original compositions and improvisations in a wide variety of musical settings. He is also focused in presenting and supporting the local experimental and avant-garde community at large with his grass-root philanthropic vision for total artistic self expression and freedom from generic branding.

From his very beginnings as a student of Jazz while being exposed to the twilight tutelage of Stan Getz and the young vibrant jazz theory of Bruce Foreman he found himself drawn to the outer realms of music. In 1986 he founded the progressive jazz sextet Jazz On the Line that served as a vehicle for his original compositions until 1994. Romus produced his first album “Dark Wind” in 1988 (which also served as the first album for then thirteen year old drummer Steve Rossi), and his second recording entitled no boundaries in 1990. In 1992 he recorded and produced In the Moment, reissued in 2008 as “Thundershine” with Chico Freeman.

In 1995 he formed the collective entity The Lords of Outland with whom two years later he recorded “Adapt…or DIE!” with The Lords, which featured tenor sax master John Tchicai a contemporary of John Coltrane and Albert Ayler. During the mid to late nineties the Lords featured James Zitro, Kash Killion, Andrew Borger, Jason Olaine, Jon Birdsong, Dave Mihaly, Bill Noertker, and Toyoji Tomita to name a few. Romus submitted a video to the then fledgling BET Channel’s National Network Show “Jazz Central”. As the judges visibly struggled with The Lords’ rendition Eric Dolphy’s “Out to Lunch”, while looking balefully into the camera, he knew this band was bound to challenge the status quo. Throughout the Lords’ fifteen year history its core roster has changed numerous times, which included Tchicai, Zitro, Killion, and many others. The group released two recordings in the ninties “You’ll Never Be the Same” in 1995 and, “Adapt…or Die!” in 1997.

Also in 1995 and 1996, Romus self-produced two overseas tours of Denmark which featured some of Copenhagen’s young improvisers pianist Jonas Müller, and drummer Stefan Pasborg who now enjoys world wide recognition as one of the top young jazz drummers of Europe. In 1999 Romus released “Blood Motions” with Pasborg and bassist Jonas Westergaard. In 2001 Romus released four CDs; “Avatar In the Field”, “PKD Vortex”, “The Metal Quan Yin”, and “Guinea Pig Live at the Hotel Utah” that reflected his love for interweaving science fiction, horror literature, improvisation, Finno-Ugric traditions, socio-political themes, and the inspiration of Albert Ayler in his music.

In 2003 he along side guitarist Ernesto Diaz-Infante created The Abstractions, who released three recordings during their time together that included an all star cast of experimental musicians and singers from California including Jesse Quattro, Scott R Looney, Bob Marsh, and Philip Everett.

In 2005 he continued his free improvisational experimentation with the creation of Bloom Project with perpetual touring master pianist Thollem Mcdonas releasing the self titled “Bloom” in 2006, “Prismatic Season” in 2007 and “Sudden Aurora” in 2009. In addition to his ongoing adventures with Bloom Project, The Lords of Outland found a new sonic base mixing harsh noise and jazz improvisation releasing “Culture of Pain” in 2006 and most recently in 2008; “You can sleep when you’re dead!” The core group consists of drummer Philip Everett, bassist Ray Schaeffer, and noise pedal artist C.J Borosque.

As a producer and artist business activist Rent Romus founded Edgetone Records a label for all forms of music improvisation and experimentation in 1991. During his early years from 1988 – 1998 as a concert producer he was appointed Executive Director of Jazz in Flight in 1996. From 2002-04 he was the Director of Promotion for the SF Alt Festival, and at the turn of the new century in 2000 he founded Outsound Presents under which he is the Executive Director and a curator of The SIMM Music Series at the Musicians Union Hall as well as the long standing Luggage Store Gallery New Music Series both in San Francisco. In 2002 he started The Outsound New Music Summit (formerly the Edgetone New Music Summit), a national experimental music festival held in the greater San Francisco Bay Area every summer now produced under the Outsound Presents banner which continues at the present.

Ken Micallef, (a renown writer for Billboard, Spin and New York Magazine), once wrote of The Lords of Outland, “Safely, if not sanely put, Lords of Outland imagines Jaco Pastorius playing armor outfitted basketball with a band of crazed bassists and saxophonists. The rhythms run amok, the melodies are anything but friendly, and nausea and sickness is sure to follow.” “Lords of The Outland XV” is indeed, not for the squeamish and quite frankly, that’s what makes them so damn good.


E. “Doc” Smith is a musician and recording artist with Edgetone Records, who has worked with the likes of Brian Eno, Madonna, Warren Zevon and Mickey Hart among others, including Howard Levy. He is also the inventor of the musical instrument, the Drummstick. He can be reached via http://edgetonerecords.com/edoctorsmith.html

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