PAK was formed in 2000 by Ron Anderson, a multi-instrumental performance artist and studio innovator who had been active in Philadelphia and New York during the '80s. Anderson's musical pathways seem always to lead back to the intersection of punk rock and free jazz. In Philly he lived with and played in the band Rat a Rat R. A little later, his "free rock and Dada concept" band the Molecules was formed with Chris Millner and Tom Scandura. Not to be confused with an earlier U.K.-based Molecules, this band operated out of Oakland, California during the '90s. The first PAK band came together in New York and included guitarist Will Redmond (who later played with Time of Orchids) bassist Jesse Krakow (a member of Cuneiform's Beefheart cover band Fast ‘n' Bulbous), and Dogbowl's drummer Raceage, who prior to the formation of PAK had been performing with Anderson as a duo. While Anderson has named artists as diverse as Charles Mingus and the Minutemen as inspirations, PAK's frenetic M.O. clearly suggests the combined influences of Zappa, Beefheart, Elliott Sharp, and John Zorn. Additionally, for Anderson, exposure to progressive underground Japanese music in the San Francisco Bay Area during the early ‘90s had a profound and lasting impact. In 2000, he and PAK toured the middle and eastern United States with the high-intensity Japanese avant-rocker duo Tatsuya Yoshida and Hisashi Sasaki, avowed admirers of the Molecules. Internationally known as the Ruins, when performing with Anderson, they renamed the trio RonRuins.
PAK made its first European appearance at a festival in Mhere, France in August 2001, and gigged in Germany, Holland, and France during the spring and autumn of 2002. PAK's first album, 100% Human Hair, was released in February 2003 with production assistance from Elliott Sharp. Their second album, Motel, appeared in 2005 and was promoted by an extensive European tour and an appearance at the Future Festival of Experimental Rock in New York. By now, PAK included trumpeter Tim Byrnes, and Raceage had been replaced by Keith Abrams. Because of Anderson's reunion with the Molecules and his 2006 engagement in Tokyo with Krakow and RonRuins, PAK's next round of U.S. and European tours did not materialize until the autumn of 2008. The following year they played for audiences in the Eastern U.S. while working up material for their next album. Public appearances in Sweden and France in 2010 found the unit augmented by keyboardist and prepared pianist Eve Risser. The third PAK album, Secret Curve, was released on Zorn's Tzadik label in early 2011, with Anderson mainly active as composer and director. In addition to Abrams and Byrnes, the PAK band of 2010 included Risser, pianist Anthony Coleman, Stefan Zeniuk on woodwinds, and electronic/tape manipulation wizard Jerome Noetinger. The band continues to operate primarily as one of New York's bracingly energetic, modern creative performance units. PAK presents music that is texturally and temperamentally commensurate with the more challenging aspects of life in the 21st century. Anderson's PAK should not be conflated or confused with a similarly named rapper from Flint Michigan, or various performing artists using the same three letters to signify a connection with the people and culture of Pakistan. ~ arwulf arwulf
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