One chapter ending, another just beginning. Celebrating the end of a dizzyingly bizarre year with a simple gesture via our Christmas card was quite cathartic. And looking ahead is now so very satisfying.
On Panguna, Keluar deliver an inspired combination of the exotic exuberance of 80’s synth-pop and classic, hard-edged EBM. But unlike many of the recent retro-electro throwbacks, this one sounds exotic, somewhat mysterious, a little bit dangerous, and – dare I say – fun.
Keluar manages to capture the mysterious, globe-trotting themes of so many 80’s synth-pop hits. Here, I’m thinking specifically of Duran Duran. The tracks carry the torch of classics like ““Rio”, “Hungry Like the Wolf” or “Wild Boys” to foreign lands and destinations unknown. And the lyrics pair nicely with the sultry, emotive delivery of vocalist Zoe Zanias.
But where the choruses on those 80’s hits can veer straight into middle-of-the-road, crowd-pleasing purgatory, Keluar instead ground the songs securely in the darker BPMs of classic electronic body music like Front 242 or BiGod 20. Really, the tracks on Panguna could best be summed up as “Wild Boys” meets “Headhunter” meets “The Bog”. Darker Duran Duran or lighter Front 242. No other description necessary, really.
Even as a fan of so much new music these days, rarely does a track excite and surprise as much as the title track. Everything here is interesting, complex, fresh and mysterious. When I put this on, I’m reminded of that rush of excitement you’d get when the DJ would put on an epic synth 12” to crush the dancefloor. One of those rare tracks that would get everyone moving, not just the electroheads.
An added bonus, here, is the addition of a Hacker remix of the title track. It’s an outright banger that delivers by smoothing things out with a roiling synth line and taut, crisp beats that crack like whip.
They tried to tame you, looks like they’ll try again.
On March 29, Kurt printed a variation of an old design that had been sitting dormant and neglected, having never seen the light of day. Until now! It felt like a good way to start off 2020 and a much-needed bright spot during these otherwise unusual days. The edition features a randomized mix of colors in a tight edition of 19. All signed, dated, and numbered.
Somehow never got around to posting this little gem from 2019. Another one that was years in the making and finally wrapped up late last year. Four colors on mustard yellow stock. In the shop if you want it.
Bing & Ruth, the project of New York-via-Kansas composer David Moore, delivers ambient compositions centered on piano; instrumental pieces that manifest themselves in sounds that coalesce and slowly swarm and overwhelm. Ethereal compositions like “Starwood Choker” wash over in waves, swelling into a near-droning white noise that leaves you disoriented and kind of numb. These moments mostly reach a point where you have no choice but to sit back, surrender and find solace in your own head. Yet in an instant, Moore can pull out the tide and leave you beached amid the white space of a spare composition like “To All It.” Either way, it’s a good place to be. The world around us can be needlessly loud, nagging and overbearing. Retreating into the embrace of something warm and calm and ambiguous is often necessary to simply carry on. Moore carves out the space and conditions perfect for contemplation, inviting you in to contribute your own thoughts and feelings.
For us, No Home of the Mind is the perfect soundtrack to a calm, cold, quiet winter walk in the woods. In my mind, the day is still and the sun has nearly set. It’s not yet twilight, but will be soon. The cold air numbs your face and it’s getting hard to see, but the scene is so peaceful that you can’t yet bear to break the spell. Interestingly, I’m reminded of the painting February by William Trost Richards, a work in the collection of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. To my eyes, it perfectly captures the atmosphere of the album, for much like a moment connecting with nature, this is a soundtrack that revels in simplicity and beauty and rewards you for paying attention and just being there.
A long overdue “thank you” for a stellar Cherokee Heights Arts Festival 2019! I got to spend the day with this lovely lady and a steady stream of art lovers that didn’t let up all day long. We had our best year yet! The planning committee and roadies did a superb job of making this a seamless and memorable experience (as always). Great music, food, drinks, and crowds with the most artists participating in fest history! We’re excited to see the momentum and enthusiasm for CHAF continue to grow while being a part of it all. We’ll see you there next year!
Seriously, it wasn’t until we actually got into the Philadelphia Spectrum and passed a merch booth – eyeballing Robert Smith’s pouting, powdered face glowing from an enormous black t-shirt that I realized I was attending my first rock show. Mind you, this was after we parked in one of the vast, darkened lots and passed endless groups of sullen young adults tailgating on our way in. This was even after we had handed over our tickets at entry. I was still flummoxed as to why we were going to a sporting event for my birthday. Ice hockey was pretty cool, but not cool enough to go to on a school night.
30 years ago tonight, my mom surprised me with a birthday gift I’ll never forget: she took my sister and me to see The Cure, my favorite band at the time, perform live. It was the tail-end of the Prayer Tour, the band supporting the now-classic and personal-favorite, Disintegration. You won’t find September 21 on the back of the tour t-shirt – only the first Philly date, August 23 is listed – but I have the ticket stub to prove it happened. The date appeared to be tacked on towards the tour’s end, presumably “by popular demand”.
Everything about the show blew my soon-to-be-12-year-old mind: they played Disintegration in its entirety (though not in running order), they played scores of old favorites, it was loud, there was a stage set-up and lights, and the kids in the crowd wore such cool clothes. I discovered a newfound appreciation for deep cuts that still, to this day, remind me of that night: “Last Dance”, “Prayers for Rain”, and “The Same Deep Water as You” among them. The epic, reverberating bassline of “Closedown” was a highlight that’s still etched into my brain. Another favorite was a 20-minute version of “A Forest” that ebbed and flowed on Smith’s endless guitar solo, morphing from blistering noise to delicate strumming for, like, 15 whole minutes (see a shorter version from 1992 here).
According to setlist.fm, the band played “The Perfect Girl”, a rather poppy deep cut from the Kiss Me album. I don’t remember that at all. I also recall that they played “Kyoto Song”, but it’s not listed as such. I’m probably wrong on both counts. Funny how some memories can be clear as day and other details just drift away.
Love and Rockets opened the tour, but not on this night. A few dates even included third act Pixies as additional support – deep in their Doolittle prime (all three bands toured the States at that time, joining up for major outdoor shows at venues like Giants Stadium in New Jersey). No matter, I was just happy to be there.
Mom let us sleep in the next day and play hooky from school. She even took us to Repo Records, our favorite record store – then still in Wayne, by the R5 station – so we could load up on even more Cure records. She was now all-in.
My concert-going career could’ve started and ended that night. It was that good.
If you’re at all as nostalgic as I am, you can relive the magic here. Happy Birthday to me!