RPM Orchestra

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RPM Orchestra
OriginPhoenix, Arizona, United States
Years active2008–present
MembersPete Petrisko (conductor, shortwave radios, typewriter, noisemakers)
Jim Dustan (guitar, banjo, bass, korg analog synth, live sound engineering)
Jocelyn Ruiz (clarinet, flute, percussion, found objects)
Erik Hunter (drums & percussion)
Vic VOID (salvaged-material instruments)
Past membersKathleen D. Cone
Dan Montes
Jenna Moody
Omar AKA WildBill
Rocky Yazzie

RPM Orchestra is a proto-Industrial Americana music quintet based in Phoenix, Arizona.

The orchestra composes and performs original scores to accompany films of the Silent Era[1], provides musical scores in collaborative multidisciplinary performances, records soundtrack music for contemporary films, and regularly performs at various music venues.

Origins and history[edit]

Started in late 2008 as a studio project by Pete Petrisko, the orchestra transformed into a live multiple-member ensemble in 2009. Its line-up varied, between three and seven musicians, until 2012, when group membership solidified with Petrisko, Jim Dustan, Jocelyn Ruiz, and Vic Void playing together. Erik Hunter joined in 2014, officially making the ensemble a quintet.

Cited as a "band staffed by futurists and dadaists who take the sounds of the past and filter them into the heads of today's audiences",[2] the orchestra is most identified with dieselpunk music - combining elements of Jazz, Swing, and Bluegrass commonly found during the diesel era with its own unique instrumentation and avant-garde composition.[3] Additionally, it draws from the "noise" aesthetic of Proto-Industrial music [4] harkening back to the Russian avant-garde period.

The orchestra favors Electroacoustic music and Acousmatic sound techniques, and the use of contact microphones, in addition to traditional instruments, when creating elements of its music. Its eclectic sound has not gone unnoticed, RPM Orchestra holds distinction as the "Oddest Band in Phoenix".[5]

Best known for composing original scores to accompany films of the Silent Era, performed in front of a theater audience during screenings, RPM Orchestra was awarded Best of Phoenix 2018 - Best Live Accompaniment by Phoenix New Times, which wrote, "Combining old-timey instrumentation with radio sounds, haunting samples, and modern noise, RPM creates compelling and timeless soundscapes."[6]



  • Afterglow (2009, Onewordlong)
  • Roundabout (2010, suRRism-Phonoethics)
  • Blossoms (2012, Absence of Wax)[7]
  • Three Uses of the Knife (2013, Sirona Records)[8]
  • Hit on all Sixes (2015, 56th Street Records)
  • Canary (2015, suRRism-Phonoethics)
  • Stepwise (2017, Onus Records)[9]


  • The Sepiachord Almanac (2012)
  • When in AZ Vol. 2 (2018)

Film scores[edit]

RPM Orchestra is listed in the Silent Film Musicians Directory, a comprehensive worldwide compendium of modern-day silent film musicians and composers.

Silent Era feature film scores[edit]

Silent Era short film scores[edit]

Contemporary film scores[edit]

  • Deserted (2014) - Bandersnatch Media
  • Unspoken (2018) - a film short by Pete Petrisko[15]

Multidisciplinary performances[edit]

  • BUTOH + MUSIC (Premiered 2012). A Butoh dance and music collaboration with choreographer/dancer Debra Minghi, performed live as part of Phoenix's Art Detour 24. The performance was recorded by several cameras, including audience cellphones, and edited into a stand-alone film by particledots.[16]
  • Faust (Premiered 2013) A multidisciplinary silent film performance with Dulce Dance, and poets Jack Evans and Ernesto Moncada.[17]
  • Animalogue (Premiered 2013) A performance choreographed by Debra Minghi, three dancers combining elements of classical ballet, animal posturing, and folklorico dance, with a live musical score by RPM Orchestra. Multicultural in scope and primal by nature; it examined animal hierarchy (i.e. the food chain), social status control issues, gender politics (from role reversal to androgyny) with elements of our analog past transformed into our digital future.[18] This performance was funded via the National Endowment for the Arts' Our Town grant program, as part of Roosevelt Row CDC's A.R.T.S. project series.[19]
  • Marching In Circles Marching Band (2015) A multi-location marching performance, in which the band (with four additional musicians) visited & played in each of Phoenix's three distinct art districts (Roosevelt Row, Lower Grand Ave, and Midtown) on the same night.[20]


  1. ^ KJZZ (2018-03-23). "Through Music And Sound, Local Ensemble Brings Life To Silent Films".
  2. ^ Wilson, Tome (2010-09-27). "Interview - RPM Orchestra".
  3. ^ "Dieselpunk Music".
  4. ^ Lev, Nadya (2007-09-09). "Russian Industrial Music".
  5. ^ Moses, Jeff (2014-05-13). "9 Oddest Bands in Phoenix".
  6. ^ Phoenix New Times (2018). "Best Live Accompaniment - RPM Orchestra".
  7. ^ Nemeth, David (2012-07-11). "The Sound of Silent Films".
  8. ^ Descheemaker, Connor & Kutzler, Brandon (2012-11-12). "RPM Orchestra adds atmosphere to International Dieselpunk Day".
  9. ^ Naftule, Ashley (2017-12-07). "RPM Orchestra's Pete Petrisko on Gentrification, Silent Films, and the Band's New Album".
  10. ^ Moses, Jeff (2014-04-17). "Soundless Cinema, Noisy Score".
  11. ^ D'Andrea, Niki (2015-03-01). "Sounds of Silence".
  12. ^ Moses, Jeff (2016-06-02). "RPM Orchestra Scores a Unique Soundtrack to Snow White".
  13. ^ Home, Chris (2012-07-09). "Slicin' Up Eyeballs".
  14. ^ It's A Gift (full video) (2018). "It's a Gift (1923) with RPM Orchestra silent film score".
  15. ^ Unspoken (full video) (2018). "Unspoken".
  16. ^ Peterson, Julie (2012-06-29). "RPM Orchestra on Screen at FilmBar with BUTOH + MUSIC and More".
  17. ^ Downey, Kevin (2013-03-14). "'Faust' interpreted in music, dance, word in Phoenix".
  18. ^ Moses, Jeff (2013-10-17). "RPM Orchestra Offers Multi-Media Musical Experience".
  19. ^ DPJ Staff (2012-07-13). "Phoenix Receives Our Town Grant From National Endowment for the Arts".
  20. ^ Moses, Jeff (2015-05-06). "RPM Orchestra Will Create the Weirdest Marching Band Ever".

External links[edit]