From our Bay to Norway - Page 6

A trip beyond space disco through the super sounds of Oslo and San Francisco
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Arp's Alexis Georgopoulos
Photo by Alexander Warnow

But since the EP also credits Mungolian figures named Katzenjammer and Izzy Tizzy as vocalists, it's anyone's guess as to who has inhaled a few balloons before singing.

Leone says he grew up listening to the Beatles and the Beach Boys, and the latter's influence is especially apparent in the semielated, semiagitated high harmonies that fly through intricately braided compositions like his "Nous Tombons dans Elle." A self-described "band nerd" in high school and music major at Texas Tech University, he feels a kinship with the more overtly postmodern academic songwriting approaches of friends such as Matmos and Kevin Blechdom. To Lindstrøm, though, he's a 21st-century answer to the progressive pop of Todd Rundgren (who happens to be a favorite of Sorcerer as well). "I remember the first time Lindstrøm wrote to me [about my music]. He was talking about Paul McCartney, but his big thing was Rundgren," Leone says with a laugh. "I wasn't a big Rundgren fan, but [Lindstrøm] wasn't the first person to listen to my music and mention Rundgren.

"The first track ['Forelopic Bit'] on Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas is, to me, the best example of how to make a dance track from prog and fusion influences," Leone notes before adding some observations that probably stem from his experience as a freelance music writer for Pitchfork more than from his far-flung everyday listening tastes, which have ranged from salsa to bluegrass over the past few months. "A lot of people are trying to [bring prog and fusion to dance floors] right now. You can go out [to a club] and hear these Balearic and beardo DJs just playing tracks. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. But Lindstrøm is one of the few guys who are actually trying to make original songs incorporating those influences."

A HATCHBACK DRIVE TO WINDSURF

Sam Grawe of Hatchback and Windsurf sings the praises of his Sony tape recorder as I place my old, cheap, and wonderful Panasonic next to some glasses of wine on a table in his home recording studio. Plastic owl wall fixtures and a rug with shaded steps of color that resemble the volume bars of a digital stereo rest above and below the assortment of keyboards (including that prized prog possession, the Rhodes) in the room. "You can listen to instrumentals as background music, but I've always been into [moments] when music connects you with what's happening or what you're doing," Grawe says. "So much of my [youth] was spent driving around the rural countryside and finding the perfect song. Sound can fulfill an opening or void in your emotional experience. Images can be part of it, smell can be part of it, but sound can take it to another level."

Grawe's sympathy for trusty old tape recorders, his playfully decorated recording space, and the attentiveness to setting in his reminiscence all make sense — by day he is the editor in chief of the modern architecture and design magazine Dwell. By night and whenever else he can find the time, he listens to and makes music. It's an enduring passion that goes back to high school years spent using MIDI to put music theory into practice and compose fugues in the manner of Rick Wakeman and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. "The guy who stocked the import section [at a nearby record store] was some crazy prog freak," Grawe remembers. "A friend of mine had The Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock, so I could read about some crazy Italian or German band and then go to the mall and buy the CD."

"White Diamond," the 21st-century prog rock of Gibraltar that Hatchback has just made public (on the UK label This Is Not an Exit), showcases the fuguelike interplay between simplicity and complexity in Grawe's compositions.

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