Experimental trio finds audience in NYC

Turtle Soup sounds like something unappetizing at first, but given the chance, it turns out to be quite tasty — like green eggs and ham.

It’s a befitting moniker for a band whose sonic experiments and bizarre instrumentation are not what you would expect from average college student musicians.

Turtle Soup is comprised of junior economics major Joe Moore, senior sociology major Eric Freda and their hometown friend Alex Minicozzi. Minicozzi, the band’s chief creative force, began writing music as a student at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) with almost no traditional musical education.

Now the three are anticipating the release of their debut album, “E to the Eye Pie Equals One,” due out March 14 on the N.Y./N.J.-based independent record label Boathouse Records.

“This project has definitely manifested into something I could never have foreseen,” Minicozzi said. Minicozzi pieced together his unconventional songs using a multitrack recorder and a computer program that allowed him to sample different sounds.

While some songs feature lyrics, albeit the stream-of-consciousness variety, most are instrumentals with dense percussion and atmosphere galore.

For instance, the beginning of the song “Ely (Nevada),” with its whistle-imitating noises and vaguely Native-American ambiance would not be out of place in a spaghetti western film. According to Minicozzi, some songs even feature instruments that he created himself.

When Minicozzi received positive feedback on his music from fellow students at NJIT he shopped his material around to different indie labels. Eventually, he caught Boathouse Records’ eye.

Boathouse agreed to release his album but suggested that Minicozzi put together a backing band and book some live shows to promote his music. Enter Moore and Freda.

Moore, a guitarist, and Freda, a bassist, began rehearsing with Minicozzi in their basement in December 2005. They describe the process of learning the Turtle Soup repertoire as like nothing they’ve ever done before.

“It was a free-for-all,” Freda said. “We didn’t know what instruments we were going to play until Alex told us.”

Although he’s neither a drummer nor a keyboardist, Moore has assumed both roles in Turtle Soup. He, like Freda, trusts Minicozzi’s decisions.”I would follow Alex to the ends of the earth,” Moore said, half joking.

Turtle Soup’s first show at the Riverside AMVETS (American Veterans) Hall in Hawthorne, N.J. was an eye-opening experience for the three musicians.

The experimental trio was out of place on a bill that consisted almost entirely of pop-punk and screamo bands.

The audience, mostly high school teens, just didn’t know what to make of them.

“You could tell they weren’t used to music outside their scope,” Freda said, “but the show was fun anyway.”

The band garnered more favorable audience responses at a series of three shows in New York City.

They were even lucky enough to secure a spot as the opening act for the burgeoning experimental group, Man Man, whose music they enjoy.

As of now, Turtle Soup has only one new show on the horizon, but it’s an important one. On March 15 at 9 p.m., the band will celebrate its record release with a concert at the Lit Lounge in New York City. Tickets are $6.

With Minicozzi’s penchant for the unpredictable and the absurd, the show is bound to be an interesting one. “We try to integrate something new into each show we play,” Minicozzi said.

For more information on Turtle Soup, visit the band’s MySpace page myspace.com/turtlesoupmusic.