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About alt-J

English alt-rock experimentalists alt-J wear their geeky math side with pride, right down to their name, a reference to the keyboard shortcut for a delta (triangle) sign. But it was their proclivity for the liberal arts that brought them together in 2007 at Leeds University, where lead singer/guitarist Joe Newman, guitarist/bassist Gwil Sainsbury, and drummer Thom Green studied fine art and keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton read English literature. The quartet first started tinkering with minimal equipment in their dorm rooms, but soon after graduation their sound had evolved into multilayered melodies that mixed, mashed, and manipulated elements of indie pop, trip-hop, folk, dubstep, psychedelia, and a capella harmonies. It all came together beautifully on tracks like “Breezeblocks” and “Tessellate” from their 2012 debut album, An Awesome Wave, which garnered them the coveted Mercury Prize. By alt-J’s 2014 sophomore album, This Is All Yours, Sainsbury left the band and they slimmed down to a trio, but their sound has remained just as dazzling (and dizzying), with whimsical ventures into organ-infused rock, dark electro-pop, orchestral and choral epics, and even a Miley Cyrus sample (see the slow-burning “Hunger of the Pine”). Through it all—with nods to Shakespeare, contemporary American novels, foreign films, war photographers, binary codes, and (of course) a triangle or two—they continue to prove themselves a band of many dimensions.

Leeds, England
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