On My Turntable: Alien Knife Fight, “Flightplan”

Photo: Monique Ortiz

Kick around long enough and you’ve heard it all. Or so you think. At this point I’d be a jaded old showgirl if not for the fact that I’m neither jaded nor a showgirl. I’m old is my point, but with age comes–if one looks and listens carefully–discrimination and taste. Nobody advertises fresh Scotch or day-old wine, for example. The spirits need time in the barrel to develop their complexity and sophistication, and the more time the better. That goes for both the taster and the tasted.

It’s true, young brothers and sisters. Hang in there long enough and you become impervious to the hype of pretty labels and heavy promotion. Experience inoculates us against empty suits and distracting light shows. We’ve lived through big budget punk, major label alternative, multi-million selling “indie,” and rapcore.  We’ve been burned so many times that us old dogs have our musical bullshit detectors set to high. That’s not to say that younger folks can’t sniff out the real deal, but listen: There was a time that I swore Frankie Goes To Hollywood were geniuses. With experience comes wisdom.

Where am I going with this? I think I’m congratulating myself for loving “Flightplan,” the latest track from Alien Knife Fight. Chances are that unless you live in the Austin area you’ve never heard of this duo from Creedmoor, Texas, a town that enjoys a population of an even 200 when bandmates Monique Ortiz and Michael Howard are on the road, but you’ve heard of them now and that’s all that matters. Plus, you get bragging rights: When you finish this little post you can tell your friends about the cool band that you’re into that they haven’t even heard of yet.

Well, maybe not. They might already know singer/bassist Monique Ortiz. That name may ring a bell for Morphine fans by way of Bourbon Princess or A.K.A.C.O.D., or maybe not.  And even if they do, Alien Knife Fight’s music is entirely its own thing, anyway. Ortiz’s unique approach to bass coupled with Howard’s primitive percussion results in a distinctive sound that is half heard, half felt. “Flightplan” feels like a prayer, an incantation. Without considering a single word, one recognizes that something holy is going on here, but listen to those lyrics closely and your reward is a statement of artistic purpose: strong, defiant, assured. Ortiz explains:

‘Flightplan’ is really about how much of my creative life has been a very steep uphill climb. In many ways it’s my ‘fuck you’ to everyone who has written me off, been dismissive of me and my work, and for all those who have and continue to ignore me altogether (“too bad you’re late to the party”).

Since childhood I’ve always been kind of an outsider, never really fitting in, never quite cool enough, never invited to the parties. I was the one girl who worked at the rock club and could never get a gig there, while all my shoe gaze, noise band coworkers gigged regularly. That sort of thing. I was always a bit awkward and nerdy.

At some point in my teens I just kinda said ‘screw it. I’ll just do what I want to do, and if no one ever gets it, fine because I don’t need anyone’s approval.’ It’s probably the closest thing I’ve come to writing about female empowerment. Now I’ve taken flight, and I’m leaving all the naysayers behind.

That is the moment that the real work can begin. That is the moment that the wine emerges from the barrel aged, beautiful, complex, and delicious, and thanks to YouTube you can drink it all in for free.

Alien Knife Fight are on the road as we speak. If you’re in or near any of the following cities, make it happen. They’re working on an album, too, which I’ll be sure to give some quality time on my turntable when the day comes.


03/28 @ Urban Lounge – Salt Lake City, UT
03/29 @ Neurolux – Boise, ID
03/31 @ Tractor Tavern – Seattle, WA
04/01 @ Dante’s – Portland, OR
04/04 @ Catalyst – Santa Cruz, CA
04/05 @ Bottom Of The Hill – San Francisco, CA
04/06 @ Alex’s Bar – Long Beach, CA
04/07 @ Pappy & Harriet’s – Pioneertown, CA
04/08 @ Rhythm Room – Phoenix, AR
04/13 @ Three Links – Dallas, TX
04/14 @ Antone’s – Austin, TX
04/15 @ Continental Club – Houston, TX

2 replies »

  1. First of all, Alien Knife Fight, is a cool band name. Second of all, their music is bliss. I have written the flight plan. I’ve made peace with my foes. I am over the ocean, far from the coast. Deep. Third of all, female empowerment. The sunspot marks my place in this room. Just gather ’round in a circle. I build a fire, I’ll make flowers bloom. Open your eyes while I try it. You never noticed I was here the whole time, gathering all of the details. Now you see me. I’m larger than life. Too bad you’re late to the party.

    Fourth of all, I love the beat. Percussion is a holy thing. Feel the indigenous spirits beat on the drum. Hear the hot forging of the iron or steel. Note from Wikipedia: Forging can produce a piece that is stronger than an equivalent cast or machined part. As the metal is shaped during the forging process, its internal grain deforms to follow the general shape of the part. As a result, the grain is continuous throughout the part, giving rise to a piece with improved strength characteristics.

    Fifth of all, it does feel like I am on a long journey or a Flightplan, just listening to the drone of the song. My favourite part begins here. I dig the takeoff. The sky is so blue. Finally my head has gone quiet. This loneliness has got a strength of its own. No hazards where I’m flying. They’ll never touch me. they’ll never pull me down. I’ve got more forces in hiding. You might be clever, but you’re not built to last. No, not in this weather. I live in “fight or flight”. Survival’s all I’ve got. No parachute, no safety net. My adversaries place their bets.

    Note from Wikipedia: Open-die forging is also known as smith forging. In open-die forging, a hammer strikes and deforms the workpiece, which is placed on a stationary anvil. Open-die forging gets its name from the fact that the dies (the surfaces that are in contact with the workpiece) do not enclose the workpiece, allowing it to flow except where contacted by the dies. The operator therefore needs to orient and position the workpiece to get the desired shape. Must be a God thing. Holy indeed. Flightplan reminds of Jerusalem and Dopesmoker by the band, Sleep. Tranquil. Primal. Dark. Soulful. Moody. Epic. I wish Flightplan was an hour long song. I could dig that.


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