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Air is Human: A Duo With Depth.

January 8, 2016

AirIsHumanSmallText by Kevin Stairiker. Top image by Kara Khan/Pop Up Polaroid. Concert images by G.W. Miller III.

As with most great relationships, Air is Human met each other through a Craigslist ad.

Frontman Jeff Lucci, 28, put up an ad requesting various musicians that lined up with his interests including far – ranging bands from Radiohead to Mahavishnu Orchestra. Drummer Josh Aptner, 27, was the only one to respond.

Five years later, the duo consistently hypnotizes the city with their complex musical arrangements.

“Thank God I didn’t know shit about the city then,” Lucci says with a laugh. “If I would have wrote that today, I would have thought, ‘Goddamn, no one is going to respond to this.’”

It’s clear that the relationship is a successful one. The two live in Fishtown currently but are hoping to move to a nearby warehouse that is more conducive to store massive amounts of equipment.

To make up for the fullness that a two–piece sometimes lacks, Lucci’s setup includes both a keyboard and guitar fit with varied pedals. Their live sound is intense, with layered keyboards and looped guitars maniacally set against Aptner’s driving, almost dance–like percussion. All the while, both musicians face each other onstage so that any experimentation or delineation can be communicated with a simple head nod.

“Their music has great depth and it triggers visuals in my imagination,” says Joel DeMartino, lead singer of Moonstriker, a band that Air is Human have shared many show bills with over the years. “They always keep it fresh.”

That freshness has been put to the test this year as the band worked harder than ever to release four EPs in sequence with the changing of seasons. Each equinox and solstice brought along a new group of material that Aptner describes as “stressful but cool.”

“The original concept came from wanting a deadline,” says Lucci. “If we didn’t have a deadline, it wouldn’t get done. Our first album came out in 2011, so there’s a lot of procrastination. I want to tweak it ‘til it’s right.”

Each EP has managed to fit the theme of the season in some small way. “Throwing Knives at the Sun,” off the collection of songs predicating the summer solstice, rushes forward in a way that’s perfect for a long highway drive towards the horizon. The spring equinox is represented well by tracks like “Kierkegaard’s Last Words,” a spare, almost ghostly piano track that manages to be both wistful and trance-like at the same time. The winter equinox, which is the band’s final seasonal EP, is scheduled for December 22.

Air is Human are regulars at venues across the city and have been able to sustain residencies at Boot & Saddle, Bourbon & Branch and for the second time, a full month at Ortlieb’s.

“The thought process behind the residencies is that we can share the love with another band and that people can at least make one show,” says Lucci.

“If you’re actually maintaining your relationships and interacting with people, it becomes easier because it’s more of like, ‘Dude, you’re my friend, wanna come hang?’” adds Aptner.   The band will likely celebrate the end of the year–long project with some shows and then take some time off.

“I’d like to put this last [EP] out and then take a break from playing shows,” says Aptner. “And then come back when we have a new set ready.”

Until then, the two moving parts of Air is Human will continue on their trail, uncompromising with the music that they make.

“The reason we do this is definitely because we’re compelled to do this, and I think that’s why other shit falls by the wayside,” says Aptner. “I’m not compelled to be on social media. I’m compelled to make awesome music.”

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