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Aurochs was at once disconcerting and inspiring as they wound their way through a set that spanned song and minimalism.” - Nilan Perera, Exclaim!

Aurochs is: Ali Berkok (piano/accordion), Pete Johnston (string bass), Jake Oelrichs (percussion) and Mike Smith (electronics). We live in Toronto, and perform improvised concerts informed by dub reggae, American minimalism, and 1970s krautrock.

Upcoming Shows

27 January 2017, 7:30 pm
Tranzac (292 Brunswick Avenue)
Our monthly trip south. PWYC, and stick around for the Ryan Driver Sextet.
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  1. Seven

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  • About

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    Aurochs emerged from the underbrush in 2012 following the disbanding of Muskox, a group led by Mike Smith in which Berkok, Johnston, and Oelrichs played. The trio loved working on Smith’s intricate, tightly composed music, and wanted to continue playing together in a similar vein. Rather than compose new music, Aurochs decided to reach for Muskox-style complex rhythms and grooves through collective improvisation, and began performing concerts of long, gradually unfolding pieces inspired by dub reggae, American minimalism, and 1970s krautrock. The band took things full circle by bringing Muskox wrangler Mike Smith back into the fold in 2015.

    Anchored by a regular monthly gig at Toronto’s Tranzac, Aurochs have developed a loyal following for their live shows. A hallmark of these performances is the morphing of
    conventional acoustic sounds into something else entirely, with the whole held together by a strong sense of groove and ensemble cohesion.

    Aurochs’ debut album
    Rational Animals was released in 2014. Their newest album is titled Another Helpful Medicine (All-Set! Editions, 2016).
  • Sounds

    Rational Animals

    Aurochs’ debut album was released in 2014 when the band was a trio of Berkok, Johnston, and Oelrichs.
    Nick Storring of Musicworks had this to say: “Aurochs’ music sits at the rich intersection of classic jazz-piano-trio instrumentation and a peculiar, asperous strain of minimalism… At once hypnotic and disquietingly propulsive, Rational Animals leaves the listener craving more.”
    1. Catch
    2. Shift
    3. Lock
    4. Ground
    5. Fling

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    Another Helpful Medicine

    Aurochs returned from the wilderness in 2016 with Another Helpful Medicine, made with fresh new member Mike Smith aboard to add psychedelic electronic figurations to the mix and Barnyard Records mastermind Jean Martin behind the board.
    1. One
    2. Two
    3. Three
    4. Four
    5. Five
    6. Six
    7. Seven
    8. Eight
    9. Nine
    10. Ten

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    Aurochs regularly uploads recordings of our performances to
    Soundcloud - check out the feed below, and follow us for regular updates.
  • Vision

    Live at the TRANZAC in Toronto

  • Press

    “Pianist Ali Berkok, bassist Pete Johnston, and drummer Jake Oelrichs - all alumni of the celebrated Toronto instrumental group Muskox - have ventured further outward into deliciously unstable territory.”
    Nick Storring, Musicworks
    Read the full review

    “…Aurochs started out with the promise of Paul Bley and Jimmy Giuffre but then morphed into rhythmic displacement and back again.”
    Nilan Perera, Exclaim!
    Read the full review