As far as we know, Gulu-Gulu Cafe in Salem is neither a spaceship nor a temple. But if you go there Saturday night, when Underwater Airport is playing, there’s a chance you may be transported to another realm.
“For most of us, this is a very spiritual exercise,” said Ed Blomquist of Hamilton, a member of the band. “Music is a profound mechanism for transforming consciousness, and that power has been recognized in virtually every musical culture.”
The group plays ambient music that is neither rock ’n’ roll nor jazz, but it is always improvised, he said.
They have no doctrines to impart but are serious when they say they want to take you someplace where you’ve never been.
“The music is the path, if you will. That’s why we feel free to draw on anything,” Blomquist said. “We’re not trying to impart a specific code. It’s Zen in the sense that the experience happens in the moment, then it’s gone.”
Blomquist, who teaches music business and management at Berklee College of Music, has been playing with some of the band’s other members for decades.
Underwater Airport formed in 2008 as a partial reunion of another band several members had played in, Free Range Experiment.
“We got together and it was like, ‘Oh, my God,’” he said.
The current lineup features two drummers, Peter Spellman and Russell Lane, who went to high school together on Long Island.
“We have this amazing double drumming thing,” Blomquist said. “Having the rhythm and time-keeping spread out across two people gives it a dimension you can’t get any other way.”
Spellman and Lane play different sorts of drums in styles that complement each other.
“Russell plays a drum kit, whereas Peter mostly plays percussion,” Blomquist said. “Russell does the deep grooves, while Peter does the decoration around it.”