When Minneapolis guitarist Jason Goessl met Seattle drummer Adam Pessl in 2002, it seemed only right they should form some sort of musical pairing. [Come on, "Goessl" and "Pessl"? What are the odds?] Tenuous though the initial connection may have been, a partnership was formed and soon became the ever-evolving experimental project that is Obelus.
Though trained and skilled in traditional live music performance, Jason and Adam were both fans of electronic music, and sought to forge a link between the two cultures. With that in mind, the first Obelus shows revolved around the interplay between Jason and Adam and Seattle DJ's . The shows weren't exactly jams, but more like long-form musical conversations with the live music building upon the themes of the recorded music, taking over for 20 minutes at a time, then flowing back into a DJ set without a break, organically blurring the line between recorded music and live instrumental improvisation. The format proved successful, and shortly after these first shows, Obelus was invited to take up weekly residency at Seattle club, Tost. The first two full-length live Obelus recordings (One and The Lateral) came out of these shows, assembled and produced by Chicago producer .bitmoth.
The laptop-meets-improv-meets-DJ idea became popular with the local electronic set and hardware musicians alike, and for the next three years (2003-2005) Obelus found themselves hosting Basskamp, a weekly electronic night at the Capitol Hill Arts Center that featured a live blend of DJs, laptop artists, and more traditional musicians. Eventually, the Basskamp family became its own small record label, circulating lovingly burned CDR's of the artists and friends that regularly performed at CHAC, including a remix CD of earlier Obelus tracks reinterpreted by local producers and electronic musicians.
It was during this creative period that Obelus refined their earlier, lo-fi, garage-electronic sound, writing and recording their first foray into non-improvised music, Essl. Unfortunately, the near-finished CD was never actually completed. Now referred to as "the lost record", all the painstakingly created sounds for Essl were accidentally erased during a software upgrade. Though they've never re-recorded Essl, Obelus has spent the last few years constantly writing and recording, expanding their musical scope, focusing more intently on refining the minutia of their studio production with software instruments, and experimenting with incorporating bits of manipulated voice tracks into both their production and live performances.
In 2006, Jason and Adam rediscovered an ambient track they'd recorded two years earlier during a trip to the Pessl family ranch in Montana. That track, "Big Sky", landed on the MEMEX records compilation, Cumulous, and inspired them to record their first ambient record, appropriately titled Montana. With the help of Conduit records, Montana was released in June 2008; a limited release pressed on green vinyl featuring artwork by Jerry Abstract.
2007 brought about the first collaboration between Obelus and vocalist Caitlin Sherman. The trio composed and recorded an original track, "Stationary", for Peloton Musique's highly conceptual debut album. Not only was "Stationary" composed almost entirely of sampled bicycle sounds, it was the band's first track to follow a standard verse/chorus format and feature a fully realized lead vocal. The interweaving of Sherman's plaintive vocals and sharp lyrics with Obelus' glitchy atmospheric framework proved to be a perfect match, and five more songs featuring her voice and musical input were quickly completed. The resulting demo, Obelus featuring Caitlin Sherman, received ample airplay from independent radio taste-maker KEXP. After extending the collaboration to include Seattle electronic musician and keyboardist ndCv (Andy Seaver), the group decided to rename the project Ada Loveless.