Night Crickets – A Free Society
Something considerably different yet surprisingly vibrant comes in a package by former tenebrous stripe musicians. I can’t disqualify this work since, after all, Dead Can Dance struck with Americana gusts with (“American Dreaming”). In 1974 avant-garde artist the late Captain Beefheart issued an uncharacteristically mainstream ninth LP “Bluejeans & Moonbeams.” It explored a more traditional, Americana sense of his music & surprised fans who rejected it. However, it was a well-produced mainstream LP & proved Captain Beefheart could do it. Great vocals.
A Free Society (Omnivore/Chirp Music – Drops on Jan 21) & is impressive. With the interesting “Candlestick Park,” the Night Crickets explore dark subjects via chiming guitars & group vocals that traverse deviant charm. The contrast in vocals mixed from jars of gothic-folk/punk makes for a smart recording. Applied with ambitious musicality – nothing’s caustic, a measure above the vocal approach of 1966’s Music Machine’s “Talk, Talk” & “Come On In.” Pop music for exposed nerves.
“Amanda’s Mantra,” & “A Free Society,” come off like 1978’s Walker Brothers circa “Nite Flights” with its avant-garde stylizations (the experimental masterful haunting “The Electrician,” “The Shut-Out,” “Fat Mama Kick” & Gary Leeds’ classic “Death of Romance”). Deep-toned vocals from the late Scott Walker laid down a strong stylistic groundwork. It’s here too.
On the catchy “Roman a Clef,” a slight reminiscent production & intrinsic vocals of Planet P’s holocaust music from “Pink World,” (performed by Tony Carey) surfaces. It has a conventional late 70s new wave melodic oeuvre. Production-wise there are old tricks that worked once & work now.
“Soul Wave,” & “Little Did I,” utilizes a David Bowie-style vocal over a steady beat awash in synths. But for some reason — never sounds dated. The group carefully cherry-picked the best new wave morsels & mixed them into their own jet-black tasty pudding mix. There are twinges of efforts that had been employed by bands like Blancmange (“Don’t Tell Me”) & I Am Siam (“Talk To Me”). Exciting & performed to perfection.
Produced by the Night Crickets it features gothic Bauhaus & Love & Rockets bassist David J. Folk-punk band Violent Femmes drummer Victor DeLorenzo & San Francisco artist Darwin Meiners. It co-stars – Janet Schiff (cello/keyboards/bkgrd vocals), Jesse Catalino Montigo (alto sax), Malachi DeLorenzo (drums/bass/guitar/keyboards/percussion), Julian Shah-Taylor (mellotron), Marc Warren (spoken word), Derek Doss (guitar) & Matt Meixner (keyboards).
Finally, “Down Below,” “Return to the Garden of Allah,” each creatively tweaks the more organic & earthy regions of Rain Train Crow (former Japan — David Sylvian & Mark Karn – “Every Colour You Are” ) that bordered on the soundscapes of The Blue Nile. “I Want My Night Crickets,” is inventive but recalls similar excursions like Napoleon XIV’s 1966 hit “They’re Coming To Take Me Away,” — its flipside was the same song backward. That’s what I find poking at me from this tune.
This possesses a creepy elegance. Not surreal. I enjoyed it.
B&W Photo: Mark Gleason. The 41-minute, 13-cut CD: Available @ http://omnivorerecordings.com/shop/a-free-society/