Oakland, California-based avant rockers miRthkon prove that complex, thoroughly scored music can be played with enough power and punch to knock down a wall or two, while also confounding your cranium with conceptual craziness. The band is the brainchild of Wally Scharold, a guitarist and composer whose music under the miRthkon moniker first appeared on self-released recordings while Scharold was studying composition at the Oberlin Conservatory in Ohio. After moving to Oakland, he graduated from Mills College with a master's degree in music composition; while at Mills Scharold met other musicians and formed a group that played his new material as well as earlier music he had penned back in the Buckeye State. The group miRthkon eventually settled on a sextet lineup of two guitars, two woodwinds, bass, and drums, and since everything they play is completely scored -- reportedly even the drums -- they describe themselves (on their website) as "an amplified chamber ensemble masquerading as a rock band." This approach reflects one of miRthkon's key influences -- Frank Zappa -- and extends to the band's satirical lyrics and voice-overs, as well as the sometimes loony multimedia aspects of their conceptual performances and recordings.
In 2006 miRthkon self-released an EP entitled The Illusion of Joy, featuring Scharold along with second guitarist and composer Rob Pumpelly, saxophonists Carolyn Walter and Dave Reminick (a temporary bandmember soon replaced by Aram Shelton), bassist Nathaniel Hawkes, and drummer Dickie Ogden. The group underwent some personnel changes -- with saxophonist Jamison Smeltz replacing Shelton and Matt Guggemos taking over the drum chair from the departing Ogden -- prior to signing with the Italian AltrOck label (with band and label perhaps drawn together by a fondness for eccentric capitalization in addition to musical compatibility), which released miRthkon's debut full-length, the thrash metal, prog rock, funk, avant jazz, and contemporary classical-informed Vehicle, in 2009. Meanwhile, on-again, off-again bassist Matt Lebofsky joined the band full-time as a replacement for Hawkes, and in 2011 guitarist Travis Andrews replaced Pumpelly. Despite the lineup changes, miRthkon's instrumental configuration nevertheless remained intact.
In 2012 AltrOck released (Format), a DVD documenting their live multimedia show featuring music performance with synchronized video; the DVD was co-directed by Scharold and videographer/conceptual designer Jarred McAdams, a fully credited seventh bandmember since miRthkon's earliest days as a California-based group. The following year saw the release of Snack(s), miRthkon's sophomore AltrOck album. Snack(s) arrived in September 2013 concurrent with miRthkon's Kickstarter-supported European tour, which included an appearance at the Rock in Opposition festival in Carmaux, France. ~ Dave Lynch