The French band Ulan Bator is a bit of a mystery in the United States--while the group has a considerable reputation in Europe, it's never really gotten much traction here. That's at least in part because the band, which has been around for 20 years, had, until very recently, never performed here.
And now, Ulan Bator's first-ever U.S. tour, which started this weekend, comes to Knoxville. It's a rare opportunity to catch a band that may eventually be regarded with the same kind of reverence as the groups it has been inspired by. The band, led by sole original member Amaury Cambuzat, is supporting its brand-new album, En France/En Transe, a heavy, droning, forbidding, and rhythmically inventive affair that should appeal to fans of Sonic Youth, Pere Ubu, and Can. (In an interview with Eric Dawson in this week's Metro Pulse, Cambuzat says his original intention with the band "was to mix the Stooges with Serge Gainsbourg.")
Ulan Bator is playing at Pilot Light in the Old City tonight, with locals White Gregg (featuring Pilot Light owner Jason Boardman) and New York producer/performer Martin Bisi (Swans, John Zorn, Bill Laswell). The show starts at 10 p.m. Admission is just $6.