Varsity Arts Presents
Cult of Youth, Phantom Tails
1308 4th Street SE
Minneapolis, MN, 55414
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
This event is 18 and over
Cold Cave are an experimental electronic pop group from Philadelphia and New York City who make melodic synthscapes with jackhammer beats. They acknowledge the dark roots of synthesizer music as well as its potential for making the brightest pop with their hard songs celebrating the contradictory beauty of the human condition.
As with their ancestors, for Cold Cave the synthesizer is as much about mayhem as it is melody. It is a means of conveying, via dissonance, ideas about disturbance and decay as effectively as the harshest guitar rock. It comes as no surprise to learn that mainman Wesley Eisold is a writer with a past in hardcore punk and noise bands. Caralee McElroy has spent the past few years performing and recording with the acclaimed Xiu Xiu. Manhattan-based Dominick Fernow is known for for performing as the noise group Prurient, and as the owner of the NYC record store and label Hospital Productions.
Cold Cave strive for balance, between the ugly and the beautiful, between rupture and rapture. The songs on Cold Cave’s debut album Love Comes Close have an immediacy that belies thought-provoking titles like “The Laurels of Erotomania” and “The Trees Grew Emotions And Died”. In this way they mark that transitional moment when synthesizer music went from a subversive device for sound collagists to a serious commercial force. They are cerebral and savage, yet sweet and seductive.
And their mainman Wesley Eisold is an absolute new young god of nihilism and despair. He says things such as, “I couldn’t understand why people were wearing watches, because they seemed like hourglasses of death, keeping track of how much time was running out”. He talks of his “absolute fixation with nostalgia and the idea of people and loves that never happened, so much that I can’t function properly with the people in my actual life”. And in two pithy sentences – “I dread clubs but I love the music they play in them,” and “I find it all so disheartening, what we hope to find when we leave our homes,” – he brilliantly captures Cold Cave’s aesthetic: the Morrissey of “How Soon Is Now” wailing over Nitzer Ebb beats.
According to Eisold, if anything, their music reflects what it feels like to live in the present. Eisold, whose baritone is as rich and resonating as that of Phil Oakey, Nick Cave or Iggy Pop, says “Of course we love the lineage of the genre, early experiments with machines to convey human emotion; the marriage between pop and industrial music. At the time it was documenting the early stages of a new world, and we are recording what it feels like to be alive in that world.”
When asked whether there is a set of guiding principles at work here, a Cold Cave aesthetic that runs from the artwork to the music, he answers: “We spend a lot of thought choosing what we do. The artwork is as imperative as the music. It is the only imagery attached to the recording. We judge books by covers everyday and it is my hope to have the sleeves represent the emotion, or lack of, in the music.”
He concedes that even though there are few explicit references to the heart of darkness on Love Comes Close, there are hints in the language used in the song titles at depravity and desolation. And he agrees that this makes Cold Cave heirs to the synthpop noir of New Order, Throbbing Gristle, Soft Cell and Muslimgauze.
Cult of Youth
Born out of a love for the post-industrial music and culture that had inspired him ever since he had first discovered music as a teenager, Cult of Youth began as a series of home recordings by founder Sean Ragon.Ragon’s solo Cult of Youth project released a 7" and then one full length on then fledgling Dais Records (also responsible for introducing the world to Cold Cave and releasing Genesis P-Orridge’s pre-Throbbing Gristle recordings for the first time). The early recordings seemed to strike a chord with many people who felt alienated by the cultural irony and lo-fi slacker mentality that was ever present in independent music at the time. Adding three permanent members to the line-up: performance artist/director/painter/occult scholar Micki Pellerano on bass, machinist drummer Glenn Maryanski, and the violin virtuoso/goddess Christiana Key. (Key’s brilliant string arrangements were recently featured on new Zola Jesus single “Poor Animal”.)
This is their first album as a proper band, produced by Chris Coady and mixed by Swans producer Kevin McMahon; it’s an ideal realization of the amazing potential this new full band line-up. It is a neo-folk masterpiece, perhaps the first of its kind from an American band. Although still rooted in the acoustic guitar driven Teutonic chants of the early material, the focus has changed and the scope is broader. Cult of Youth shifts from delicate pagan folk music reminiscent of Paul Giovanni’s landmark soundtrack to The Wicker Man, to hazy Turkish psychedelic passages, and even to the rugged Americana of traditional country music. This debut is an unapologetic and unabashed search for a spiritual identity in an increasingly homogenized world. It serves as a clear and thorough introduction for all the burgeoning dark punks out there who wanna go a bit deeper but haven’t yet figured out where to start.
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