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Exploring a Cabinet of Natural Curiosities

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities takes an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach to music. The roving collective is the brainchild of New York native Jasmine Dreame Wagner, and combines elements of folk and electronica, spoken word and moody crooning, performed by an ever-evolving group of artists and musicians. Since Wagner moved to Missoula this summer to pursue her master’s degree in creative writing, that group now includes a few members of the arts scene.

“The more people there are, the more possibilities for chaos,” Wagner says. “It’s always surprising to see how things change depending on who I’m playing with, and whether I’m alone or with a larger group it always seems to be different.”

For the upcoming performance at The Lab, Wagner’s been rehearsing with fellow creative-writing student and poet Brandon Shimoda, anti-folk singer-songriter Nathan Carter (aka Purrbot), This is a Process of a Still Life guitarist Scott Kennedy, Duel drummer Niki Payton and former Indy arts editor Andy Smetanka on saw. Wagner will bring her own guitar, vocals and field recordings to the mix.

“I don’t want to call it multimedia because that implies there’s video, which there isn’t—yet,” Wagner says. “But it is multimedia in the sense that we combine music, visual art and literature in the same performance.”

The title for Wagner’s amorphous pickup group comes from Albertus Seba’s preeminent 18th-century book on natural history (the illustrated four-volume catalog references every biological specimen then known to man). Wagner adopted the name in New York when she first started playing almost two years ago, and tries to convey the spirit of Seba’s work in all her performances.

“That idea of bringing everything together in this lush presentation is what’s so appealing,” Wagner says. “But right now I’ve only played with as many as eight other people. I’d love to someday compose a work for 40 or more. I’m always experimenting and I find the larger the scale, the better.”

Cabinet of Natural Curiosities plays The Lab, 1009 Sussex Ave., Thursday, Nov. 9, at 7 PM. Travis Sehorn opens, Jason Anderson will follow. Donations accepted.

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