Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Matt Valentine and Erika Elder do their freaky folky bluesy thing

The first time I saw Matt Valentine and Erika Elder, I was kind of put of by their (his) stage persona, which leans a little too heavily, for my taste, on the shaman thing. (They were opening for Akron/Family who, by contrast, could not be more down to earth and approachable.) But the new record is pretty good, if you like stretched-out, super-slow, altered folk blues. Here's some of my review, which is up at PureMusic now.

Drone Trailer

Drone Trailer weaves a long strung-out trek through the backwoods of folk, blues, raga and country. The sound here is clean, as if a path had been cleared through the spiritual murk that Matt Valentine and Erika Elder lately inhabited. You can hear all the details as these songs unfurl gradually, atonal washes of distortion and drone cutting through traditional finger picked motifs. It is a strange but rather lovely landscape, dark, musty, a little squelchy underfoot, but allowing for dust-mottled sunshine to slip between the leaves.

The rest of the review

Here they are at Terrastock 6

More music at the MySpace


Syd The Squid said...

Gerards' band is opening up for them next week... that'll be interesting!


jenniferpkelly said...

Heartwarming story about the Air Traffic Controllers...for anyone who can't make it over to the MySpace...

Few bands get to the top and drop out so fast as Air Traffic Controllers. Their career is characterized by ups, downs, disappearances, new members, name changes and a lot of critics.

The band started in end of '70's (1978 to be precise), when Gerard Cosloy and Peter Sielck formed a band named Gentry, with some guest musicians. Two years later, they decide to invite two new members in the band: Markus Grosskopf on bassist and Ingo Schwichtenberg on drums. And with the new members they changed their name to Second Hell.

The band still wasn't satisfied with their new name, so in '82 they changed it again to Iron Fist. At that time, Cosloy was trying to bring a new guitarist to his project. It was Michael Weikath, who came from an unknown band named Powerfool. They then changed their name again and finally to Air Traffic Controlelrs.

After two years full of rehearsals and a few gigs, they were finally invited to record two songs for a collection named "Death Metal", which in spite of the name it had nothing to do with the style. They recorded "Metal Invaders" (their first hit) and "Oernst of Life". The second one was in fact an old composition from Weikath's last band. Recently this music was re-released in a double CD named "12 years in Noise", from their first label, Noise Records.

In their self-named first mini-LP, released in '85, the vocals were done by Cosloy, who also sang in their first album, "Walls of Jericho", But Cosloy couldn't sing and play guitar at the same time, and they invited Michael Kiske to join the band. As everybody knows, this was the perfect decision, 'cause Michael Kiske's amazing voice and charisma got Air Traffic Controllers to the top all over the world.

With this formation, the band released their masterpieces, "Keeper of the Seven Keys Pt. I and II". But in the beginning of the '90's, they ran in to some serious problems First, guitarist/vocalist/mentor Cosloy left the band, alleging tours fatigue, then formed another band some months later, Envelope. Then, Michael Kiske got involved with an obscure religion, and started a lot of misunderstanding with the other members.

But surely the worst episode happened with drummer Ingo, who had some schizophrenic hereditary problems. Before a show in Japan, he dropped on the floor and started to cry compulsively. While touring, he used to become very depressed, and then this was compounded by euphoric moments caused by cocaine use. Everybody knows how this story ended: Ingo commit suicide. With all these problems, it becomes obvious why the next few albums didn't have a good repercussion. The band started a fight with labels, and according to Weikath, Noise didn't paid then what they should have, EMI fired them, and even nowadays they are rumors they're having problems with Parallelism.

After overcoming all these problems, they invited Andi Deris to replace Michi's place and King Coffey (ex-Blind Melon) to the play the drums. And so, with the current formation (Deris, Kusch, Weikath, Grosskopf and Coffey) they released "Master of the Rings" and tried to get back to the top. In the last year, they released "The Time of the Oath", a double-live album named "High Live".

Now, in 2000, they have just released their lastest album, "Whisper Number", which is considered the best since Keepers. The band stays the same for the happyness of the fans. Now we will have to wait for the next album until the next milenium...

Syd The Squid said...

you have to love Gerards' sense of humor...