radioeco.it (Italy), 10/7/2016Review of solo acoustic concert at the Internet Festival in Pisa Italy 10/6/16
Born in upstate New York, Gary Lucas has become a music legend, not only for his ability to play the guitar, but also for the personality with which he worked, many omaggiate during the evening at the Lumiere.
The concert starts a bit 'late, an oversight which is now just forgiven Lucas takes the stage and puts his hands on the guitar. The musician offers moments of pure magic, juggling arpeggios, slide guitar, jumping from blues, to rock, to put into play even classical music. If there is one thing Gary Lucas showed last night, but throughout his career, is the versatility. In its background are a thousand had collaborations (Captain Beefheart, Lou Reed, Nick Cave, Iggy Pop), and many of the completed projects, including the composition of soundtracks.
In addition to the skill as a musician, the artist has also revealed entertainer: the comparison between Trump and Berlusconi, the anecdotes with which presented the pieces, in short, Lucas has completely filled the evening.
The atmosphere at Lumiere is pure magic. Lucas masterfully takes us into a world of music "old", vintage, ranging from strong and vivid blues sound, in shades of psychedelia, jazz, folk and rock. American style resonates powerful in the former movie theater, and kidnaps quickly enraptured audience that, despite having been around the time sitting, he could not detach his eyes from the man with the hat, playing the guitar at an impressive rate.
About past atmospheres, the two most popular times, in the true sense of the word since the listeners have come out for a moment from the trance in which they were wrapped, showing more physical participation, were certainly those in which Lucas invited guest star of the evening to get on stage.
Be the first to share the stage with Lucas was Andrea Biagioni (if you follow the hearings of X Factor will have seen recently), who picks up his guitar and together bring us back to the halcyon days of the Velvet Underground, with Sweet Jane. The second artist, and it seems that Lucas watch the talent about as much as myself, is Emma Morton. Lucas starts with the guitar, the audience cheers for a few seconds and stays to listen entranced by Emma Morton's voice singing Grace by Jeff Buckley, the song that the late Jeff had written precisely with Gary Lucas.
That said, here the applause are wasted, as for the duration of the concert, just finished, it seemed to be started too recently.
Beach Sloth, 7/8/2016Review of "Nobody's Talking" song by Gary Lucas & Jann Klose
Gary Lucas & Jann Klose’s "Nobody’s Talking" is delivered with the right level of playfulness and joy. With a careful yet surprisingly colorful arrangement the song revels in the happiness that can define a life. These small moments, the moments that make up the vast majority of life, these are explored in full throughout the piece. Anchored by expressive somewhat giddy lyrics and strong guitar work, the song comes into full bloom with each reiteration.
Beginning with expressive guitar work reminiscent of Nick Drake’s "Man in a Shed" the song gets started in earnest. As the song settles into a groove the lyrics explore the regular day to day way that things begin. By letting the words describe the normal routine the song comes into full bloom as the lyrics move away from this approach. Eventually the horn enters into the mix, perfectly meshing with the increasingly energetic vocal delivery. Akin to another singer, the horn serves as a perfect counterpoint to the vocals, as the vocals explore how everybody decides to simply look down away from the rest of the world. Trapped in themselves they are unable to appreciate the brilliance that surrounds them, like walking to the left, like realizing that there are stars as well as constellations. Without talking, without communication, life could become so boring, unaware of all the potential people a person could meet on any given day.
Tasteful and elegant to its very core, Gary Lucas & Jann Klose create a timeless piece of chamber pop on the lovely "Nobody’s Talking".
Gagarin Magazine (Italy), June 2016Gary Lucas, between Grace and the Deep Blue Sea
An exclusive interview with one of the greatest living guitarists - who talks about his magnificent solo career and the many collaborations that have seen him as the protagonist with Captain Beefheart, Jeff Buckley, Jann Klose, Peter Hammill, Vinicio Capossela, Alessio Franchini and many others. A pleasure to listen to him.
An epic life, that of Gary Lucas: from Yale student who over many decades ago has taken the music world through collaborations with Captain Beefheart, Leonard Bernstein, Jeff Buckley, Peter Hammill (Van Der Graaf Generator), Mary Margaret O'Hara, Nick Cave - but above all he's made a career in his name that really places him among the greatest guitarists of our time, one of those whose name is marked next to living legends like Richard Thompson, Jeff Beck, Michael Chapman, Marc Ribot and Ry Cooder . The acrobatic stringman granted us a bit 'of his time for this interview which we hope will be able to fill out his character beyond the usual stereotyped Captain Beefheart / Jeff Buckley associations - because, really, his discography I believe is in a creative field by itself with few rivals in the world of contemporary music - and only this year he has released albums that are just excellent: Fleischerei, dedicated to the legendary Max Fleischer cartoons, and Stereopticon, engraved with the Anglo-German singer-songwriter Jann Klose which brings him back in some way to his partnership with Jeff Buckley more than twenty-five years ago.
How did you get the idea to make a record dedicated to the music of cartoons of Max Fleischer? Do you think that your work, when you were a child, was influenced by this music?
I always loved Max Fleischer's work since the day that I discovered his Popeye cartoons when I was a child growing up in Syracuse in upstate New York, in the late fifties and early sixties. The cartoons of Popeye came on around five in the afternoon and I remember that there was something really deliciously surreal about those black and white movies of the thirties, I fell in love instantly. In contrast, I could not bear the remake that made it technically inappropriate and also from the point of view of humor they were smaller than the originals, which were all inspired by New York Black and Jewish culture.
How did you set to make the album in terms of casting a singer? For example, I really think that Sarah Stiles does a great job with his vocals...
For this project I involved my wife Caroline Sinclair, who is a casting director, and asked her to find me the best young female musical theater talent in New York City. Caroline presented me with a list of five names, and Sarah Stiles was in every respect the most appropriate for the job.
Is there any chance that Fleischerei will be represented with a theatrical performance? I feel that, in addition to being a good concert, it may have the potential to become a musical...
Maybe, who knows. Unfortunately Sarah is very busy with her television career and had to give up the slot. I found a perfect replacement with Tamar Korn, a young Jewish jazz singer - with her I will make some concerts in New York and in Boston where sonorizzeremo cartoons.
Stay Awake by chance, the tribute disc to Walt Disney organized by Hal Willner in the eighties, was a kind of inspiration in making Fleischerei?
No, I would not say it was an influence at all - although I really liked that record.
Let's move on to your influences as a guitarist: how you fell in love with the instrument and who were your first "idols"?
My father pushed me towards the guitar when I was around nine years old - an idea that impressed me right away. First of all, my Dad rented me a cheap guitar and gave me lessons with a guitar teacher but he did not last more than a month, because that guitar was destroying my baby hands. And then, at that age, I preferred to stay out to play football with my friends. After a few months went by, coincidentally, my folks returned from a trip abroad with a beautiful Spanish-style guitar with nylon strings, which I found very easy to play. From there on, progress was steady and my love for the instrument was inevitable. My first idols? Certainly Duane Eddy, Peter Yarrow and Paul Stookey of Peter Paul & Mary, the Ventures - then came Carl Wilson of the Beach Boys, of course, Keith Richards and Brian Jones of the Stones, later Jeff Beck, Syd Barrett, Bert Jansch and all the others that you can imagine. You want the truth? Right now I do not listen much at all to any new guitarists, say since I became a full-time professional around 1990.
Your style is really unique, both acoustics is all'elettrica. What strikes most of all, especially all'elettrica, is your fingerpicking which reminds me of John Fahey and Leo Kottke, for example. They are far from reality with my assumptions?
I answer that John Fahey absolutely yes, he is one of my favorite guitarists. As for Leo Kottke, I do not think so much - although when I was young I listened to his work and found them interesting. And speaking of John Fahey, it seems to me that in your other novo album, Stereopticon, your love for him seems very obvious to me. What do you think?
Yes.I think fundamentally the direction was that Jann and I were in perfect agreement to write and record only with myself on acoustic guitar accompanying his beautiful voice.
Jann Klose, your companion in Stereopticon, is obviously very reminiscent of both Tim and Jeff Buckley. The disc, can we consider it a kind of closing of the circle but also evolution of what you and Jeff did? Moreover, with really intriguing roots inflections...
A beautiful song is a good song no matter the ornaments and orchestrations. I confess that I have amassed many beautiful instrumentals written for and played on acoustic guitar, stuff that I really felt were worthy candidates for good songs, that was the way I worked with Jeff Buckley but also with Najma Akhtar ( Anglo- Indian singer with Lucas in 2009 who published the disc "Rishte") - I provided them with the instrumental template that would allow them to integrate melody and words. In Stereopticon I also contributed to part of the words, and at the same time we invited our friend Dan Beck, who had already written with Dion and Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals, among the many greats who he lent his pen to, to collaborate with us lyrically. In any case, I guarantee that Jann is in possession of one of the most beautiful male voices that I've had the opportunity to work from the time of Jeff. Actually, he and I we met in a tribute dedicated precisely to Jeff, he impressed me so much that I recommended him to the director Dan Algrant for doing the vocals sung by the character of Tim Buckley in the film Greetings From Tim Buckley. You were talking about closing the circle? Yes it is!
Let's change subject. Before Fleischerei and Stereopticon, a couple of years ago you recorded Other World with Peter Hammill of Van Der Graaf Generator - how did it all start? I mean it seems to me that you two have the background quite different: your American roots comes through clearly while his are very English and very prog. By the way, when did you meet? At one point, in the seventies, Van Der Graaf Generator and Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band were both signed to Virgin Records - maybe even then he happened to meet you, right?
I met Peter in my first trip to England in 1973, after having played the European premiere of Mass, the work of Leonard Bernstein, which took place in Vienna and for which I was cast as lead guitar. By chance, I met a Hammill fan who worked at the HMV store on Oxford Street in London - know that I bought the first Van Der Graaf Generator album back in 1969 - and the guy took me to a solo concert given by Peter only a few days later in Aylesbury. Over there I had a friend, Pete Frame, editor of ZigZag Magazine, a fantastic rock fanzine of the time, who invited me to stay with him and together we went to see Hammill's show at the Friar's Club. Peter was really in great shape, and and after he finished the show I had the pleasure to interview him - we became friends instantly. Many years later, we became friends on Twitter and I suggested that we collaborate on something: his response was very enthusiastic. Here's how it all started. I can tell you that we have many things in common, musically speaking.
We have already mentioned Captain Beefheart - how did you get in touch with him? I suppose you were already a fan of the Magic Band...
Sure! And when I saw him playing for the first time here in New York in 1971 I thought: 'If I ever do anything in music, I have to play with this guy. " Fatal Attraction, it is called. The first time we spoke was for an interview at Yale University's radio station, WYBC, just a few months after that concert. One thing led to another, it took a few years, my goal was to play with him. And so it was from 1979 until he retired from music in 1983, yes.
After Beefheart retired, did you stay in touch? Known from your Facebook profile that you are a big fan of his paintings...
After his retirement, however, I spent another year and a half with him, although it was clear that he no longer wanted to make music but to focus on his painting. Our partnership officially ended in 1984, since my idea was to stand by him as a musician and not as his public relations officer in the visual art world. If he had wanted to record another disc, as Virgin was pressing him to do so, I would surely have been with him - no doubt about it.
You told in detail both in interviews and in your excellent book Touched By Grace-My Music With Jeff Buckley about your friendship with Jeff Buckley. Clearly I do not want to repeat everything for the umpteenth time but I have a curiosity: what do you think of the way his artistic legacy has been treated after his death? Share the wealth of publications that have been in the last twenty years?
The truth is I do not know so well all the publications after his death, with the exception of the material where my music is directly involved. Honestly I tell you that—I have no comment to make.
In 2012 you were portrayed in the film of Tim and Jeff Buckley, Greetings From Tim Buckley - you liked both the film and the actor who played on you?
I think that the film was a successful impressionist portrait of the early days in New York of Jeff, told with sensitivity by director Dan Algrant. I think Penn Badgley did an excellent job at inhabiting the persona of Jeff - and indeed the part Imogen Poots played I think was phenomenal also. I was a consultant on the film, and I guarantee you that some days Penn was so into the role of Jeff it was scary: I think he really did catch his aura.
Annoys you that 90% of the time the media, when they talk about you, they always say "that he collaborated with Beefheart and Jeff"? I say, you have a very extensive discography and a great level, that certainly deserves far more attention...
Yes, sometimes it happens, it is undeniable. I just do what I do and get on with it, publishing a multitude of new works and performing as many concerts as possible in as many territories as I can . You know, so far I have played in over forty countries, including several where American artists rarely if ever perform, like India, China, Cuba, Morocco, Brazil, South Korea and so on. With all this I can live with dignity, which is certainly more than 98% of the musicians who try to do this full-time can swing, unfortunately.
I have a very strong curiosity: where is Mary Margaret O'Hara? I love her work though it is very erratic, artistically speaking. You did get her on some of your records...
Mary Margaret O'Hara is a genius, of course! I played with her last a couple of years ago at the Pop Montreal Festival in Canada, where she took part in my Captain Beefheart symposium - that was done in an emporium of adult entertainment, more prosaically a porno theater (not my idea!). I think the main reason that Mary Margaret is so low profile in recent years is that that although she is the brilliant artist we know, she is also very shy and reclusive. I also believe that with Mary Margaret is not very comfortable with the frenetic activity involving the music business, especially concerning when her efforts have not been paid as well as they should have been, financially speaking. It's a shame but understandable from her point of view.
You have different artistic ties with Italy: for example, with Vinicio Capossela, you've played a few times live, and Alessio Franchini, with which you have made a splendid show of Jeff Buckley. What do you like about them?
They are both fresh artistic voices and that I admire, they have a lot of positive energy and a visionary approach to music. What's not to love ?! And I confess I am also a big fan of Paolo Conte and Enrico Ruggeri! Many Italian musicians I know are excellent! My experience is that all of them convey a very soulful feeling in everything they do. You can say, I am an Italy-ofilo!
Finally: what does the future bring for Gary Lucas, what are your next projects?
Just yesterday I finished a disc called The World Of Captain Beefheart with Nona Hendryx (ex Labelle and former Talking Heads collaborator, Ed). Then I am engaged in assembling The Edge Of Heaven Vol. 2, a collection of Chinese songs of the thirties interpreted through my American roots blues sensibilty, as was my original Edge Of Heaven album in 2001, which has so far been the most commercially successful record I ever published. The new volume I'm doing features Feifei Yang, a virtuoso erhu player and a fantastic singer of Chinese descent. Therefore, stay tuned!
—Geronimo Bruno Cico Casartelli
All About Jazz Italia, May 2016Review of Gary Lucas' Fleischerei featuring Sarah Stiles - "Music from Max Fleischer Cartoons"
An artist who used to hang out in the exclusive court of Captain Beefheart is a special cat, for sure not one that belongs to the eternally trendy and even less belonging to those easy on crowd-pleasing as much as possible. We are talking about Gary Lucas, primal player on the last albums by the Captain, who after cutting Ice Cream For The Crow (1982) retired from the music scene to dedicate himself to painting. Lucas went on with a tireless attitude, first re–thinking the Beeftheart repertoire with Fast ’n’ Bulbous, taking different paths (always with pleasant craziness) with avant-garde folks such as Phillip Johnston, Joe Fiedler and Jason Candler, or with new wave luminaries such as the Talking Heads’ Jerry Harrison, Television’s Billy Ficca—all the way with Jeff Buckley, with whom Lucas collaborated in the very beginning of his career. Never cheap nor comforting, this time the guitar player puts himself in the nth engaging project: a smart tribute to the cartoons of the legendary Max Fleischer, as is clear from the title "Fleischerei". Maybe not many know Max Fleischer's name, they do not know that he is the creator of Popeye and his fiancée Olive, or of Betty Boop, the prototype bunny that used to interpose her singing with the famous “boop-boop-be-doop”, later used also by Marilyn Monroe. There is a playful atmosphere and a flavor of an ironic swing tradition in the music of the fiery sextet put together by Lucas: the trombonist Joe Fielder (already with Fast ’n’ Bulbous), the multi-reeds player Jeff Lederer, the solid rhythm section of Michael Bates and Rob Garcia, and particularly the excellent Sarah Stiles, focus point of the record, that with her fresh and nasal voice does a perfect job for Betty Boop or Olive. A funny album, played delightfully. 8 OUT OF 10
translated by Geronimo Bruno Cico Casartelli
Veritas Vampirus newsletter, May 2016THE MUSIC NEVER STOPS......THANK GOD!!!
by Mark S. Tucker
PEARLY CLOUDS - same (Trapeze Music)
No one very often can accuse Gary Lucas of playing things safe. I mean, when you were tight with one of rock's archetypal madmen, Capt. Beefheart, you're not exactly slated to play third oboe in the Los Angeles Philharmonic, are you?…though, well, maybe so, as Lucas wielded an electric lead axe in a performance of Leonard Bernstein's Mass, after which Lennie himself congratulated the gent for "really wailing!". Quite a contrast: from genius lunatic Don van Vliet, a psycho-spiritual fascist, to one of the 20th century's most prominent classical music conductor-composers…and then, of course, there’s the panoply of highly impressive other individuals and groups he's worked under, over, beside, and within, catching just about every configuration possible to a musician. And be warned: if you travel to his website, pack a lunch; his bio is actually a novelette. Fascinating as hell, but, as I said, bring snacks, drinks, maybe a lobster dinner: you’re going to be there a while.
This time out, though, after many ventures into a constantly shifting landscape, Lucas dovetailed a trio delivering chamber music of a most unusual stripe: trad Hungarian tunes dispatched to the hinterlands, sometimes peripherally or fully psychedelicized, other times wending transdimensional paths to what we might call a brand of Harold Budd's understated rhapsodics, and in the evening setting up for the wolves and hills folk to howl at, along with, and between . Singer Enikő Szabó, encanting in her home tongue, is highly mindful of Les Voix Bulgares, Shelleyan Orphan, the Cocteau Twins, and those rare gatherings of too few others dedicated to keeping the sort of melodies alive that prodded Bartok to take quill in hand, inditing that which would travel well beyond his lifetime, to the ears of Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea, and myriad creatives in non-classical halls.
Lucas, interestingly, is here frequently satisfied to comp chords and then step out a la John Fahey or Peter Lang in the sanctified old Takoma wont, underscoring Szabo's lines and passions, keeping things pastoral in fundament, rustic, even-keeled (except when he goes a bit crazy, dragging in Beefhearty stuff, distortion, phased wanderings, and so on), but I have to say the heart of the ensemble for me is sax player Dezső Tóni, who invokes some of the most gloriously tart lines, plangent notes, and gloomily luminous atmospherics. As the disc progressed, more than once I was sitting amidst Roger Eno, the aforementioned St. Garbarek, and, in a few places, a Terje Rypdal who decided to toss his guitar in the river, take up the horn he once founded upon (a trumpet in his case, but what the hell, close enough), and coax plutonic gulfs down to Earth once more, this time via acoustics and sparely applied, almost eerie, gestures. "Dream Has Fallen", if you're feeling you’ve not been sufficiently unhinged lately, is the most sidereal occupation thuswise.
Deszo also brings back from memory a number of ECM's most melancholy reedsmeisters of the 70s in his spare but extremely well chosen chops, literally in every note, mood uppermost in consideration, more than a few times helping Lucas burrow beneath the earth, soar into the clouds, flap alongside ravens on the wing, cry with the rain. And the ancient poetics here will not, trust me, bear comparison to the Bangles, B52s, or any of the sweetness-and-light cotillion…what Barbara Ehrenreich might've called the 'brightsiders' of dip-pop muzak. Szabo is much too urgent and often artfully crestfallen, sometimes wrenching, so, nope, no Suzee Smiles and The Lollipop Squad here. Instead, the fare of Lucas & Co., lyrically and otherwise, is metaphorically and literally on the other side of the globe. I know there are many - classicalists, neoclassicalists, folkies, proghedz - who will readily absorb this through epidermis and marrow, a gloriously dreary Ophelian potion of dolor and melancholy, dazed, soporific, and deliciously ennervated, falling back in Kafkan delirium just before asking for more, much more, thirsting ever anew for the prickly balm of the rose's thorns.
Goldmine, March 2016Review of Gary Lucas' Fleischerei featuring Sarah Stiles - "Music from Max Fleischer Cartoons"
You'll have to go a long way to find another album this delightful, this delirious and this all-round "oh my goodness, I must play it every day until all my neighbors beg for mercy." Which, believe me, will not take long.
The last we heard of former Beefheart (etc etc etc) guitarist Lucas was a couple of years ago, and his spellbinding collaboration with Peter Hammill, Other World. So it makes sense, given the musical contrariness that has floated through the remainder of his career, that Fleischerei should be the polar opposite. And how!
The brief was simple. To recreate the sound and soundtracks of all those killer cartoons that dominated popular culture through cartoonist Max Fleischer's years of greatest omnipotence… which began in the 1930s, when he rivaled Walt Disney for cartooning gold, but was still thrilling TV audiences three decades later.
Popeye and Betty Boop rule the roost, and Lucas has traveled these paths before, with a medley of their songs back on 1998's Busy Being Born; he titled it "Fleischerei" then (it's German for "butcher's shop") and the name stuck when he was moved to repeat the exercise over an entire CD.
Sarah Stiles voices Mae Questel's original impression of those ultimate flappers, Betty Boop and Olive Oyl, but it's not just the voices and intonations that she recaptures, it's the sheer goofy good time energy of the girls, and also, though this scarcely registered with the cartoons' intended audiences, the musical prowess that surrounded them.
This is period pop at its apex (Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway both guested on the original soundtracks), and behind Stiles's show stopping frontline, Lucas and band recapture the sheer mayhem that was Fleischer's vision of the music – "a crazy askew world," say Lucas's liners, made up of "low-down Harlem jungle jazz, Yiddish music hall turns, Tin Pan Alley and Broadway show tunes."
Slinking trombones, brash'n'bright bass, percussion that brushes like footsteps across a darkened boudoir, and above it all,that maddeningly distinctive voice, half squeak, half slur, half giggle, half purr.
Eleven tracks take us through the highlights of the canon, from the obsessively contagious "The Music Goes Round and Round" to the maddening "Don't Take My Boop-Oop-A-Doop Away" (and up there with "a wop bop a loo bop" and "gabba gabba hey," has there ever been a more spot-on one-line summation of the sheer ecstatic energy of music?); the twelfth, "Beware of Barnacle Bill," then packs us off with nothing less than a full recreation of the original 1935 Popeye cartoon, music, sound effects and dialogue included.
Which leaves you with no alternative but to go back to the beginning and play the whole thing again. And again and again and again.
Love is Pop, January 2016Gary Lucas & Jann Klose - "Stereopticon"
Sometimes when two artists get together and collaborate it's a labor of love that's largely enjoyable only to the two of them. That is not the case with Gary Lucas and Jann Klose's just released album Stereopticon; their songs are not only accessible but a whole lot of fun. This is what you get when the magic happens.
Although I was familiar with eclectic singer/songwriter Jann Klose before discovering this album, I must admit that I was unfamiliar with Gary Lucas. Turns out he's quite the prolific artist, having over twenty five solo albums under his belt. In addition to being a renowned guitarist, he's a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter and soundtrack composer. Some of the artists he's written songs with include Captain Beefheart, Joan Osborne and Jeff Buckley. He even co-wrote Jeff Buckley's "Grace" and "Mojo Pin," two of the most praised songs from the singer's double platinum album Grace.
Regarding the title of the album, Jann explains, "A Stereopticon is a classic slide projector that combines two images to create a three-dimensional effect. The title fit since there are the two of us and the album was recorded live on two-inch tape, the classic analog recording technique."
The record is certainly what you'd call an "acoustic album," being that many of the songs simply consist of Gary's vibrant acoustic guitars and Jann's warm vocals. To be honest, I tend to get bored with percussion-less albums, but the two manage to create plenty wonderful rhythms here without bass or drums. This is evident from the start of the record, which opens with "Fair Weather," a catchy, finger-snapping, mid-tempo tune about two-faced people. "You're my fair weathered friend / Go our own way in the end," Jann sings, channeling Paul McCartney, whose influence is all over Stereopticon. "Fair-weather follows / Follows tomorrow / Cool come rain or shine."
A few of the songs were written by Gary and Jann with Dan Beck, who has worked with Dion DiMucci, the Iron Cityhouse Rockers, and the Rascals' Felix Cavaliere. (The three also co-produced the record under the moniker Dr. Tre.) One of those songs is "Let No One Come Between Us," an uppity love song that finds Jann singing, "Ain't this some strange attraction? / A slave for your reaction / Obsessed, don't let me be denied." The trio also co-wrote is "Jewel Julia," which overflows with kinetic energy, and starts off sounding classic-country influenced but soon has a delightful air of Billy Joel.
While most of the songs on the album sport blues, jazz and folk influences, "Well of Loneliness"—another track written by the trio—has pop written all over it with its grand melody and the most infectious chorus on hand. It's one of those songs that simply demands you sing along to it. It also features a glorious tenor sax solo by Jason Candler (Queen Esther), who co-engineered Stereopticon with Jack McKeever. Candler also plays soprano sax on "Nobody's Talking," which cooly splits the difference between Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, particularly during the verses.
Whether you're fond of guitar-oriented albums or songs with endearing melodies, this album is sure to please. Each of its songs is a sweet candy to be sampled; it's not unlike a box of chocolates in that respect. To that end, it would make an excellent Valentine's Day gift. Or, you know, you could just treat yourself. Bottom line? If you need a new fix of upbeat songs to freshen up your life, you can't go wrong with Stereopticon.
ThatMusicMag.com, January 8, 2016Gary Lucas & Jann Klose - "Stereopticon"
Reviewed by: Jane Roser
"A stereopticon is a classic slide projector that combines two images to create a three-dimensional effect. The title fit since there are the two of us and the album was recorded live on two-inch tape, the classic analog recording technique."
I honestly had no clue what a stereopticon was until I read this quote by vocalist Jann Klose, which also gave me a new appreciation for the work that went into creating this album. Three years after beginning this collaboration, guitarist Gary Lucas and Klose, along with songwriter Dan Beck, completed ten songs and recorded them in The Maid's Room in New York City.
Stereopticon is produced by Lucas, Klose and Beck and engineered by Jack McKeever (Joan As Police Woman, Anna & Kate McGarrigle) and Jason Candler (Queen Esther); Candler also plays soprano and tenor sax on two tracks. The album's first single (as well as the duo’s first collaboration) "Secret Wings" gives the listener a distinct sense of claustrophobia. The song speaks of "walls closing in" and how "the city wore me down" so much that the storyteller wants to run away to escape the screaming and the sirens. I was reminded of how I could never spend more than five days in New York whenever I visited my sister who lived in Brooklyn—the city that never sleeps can definitely induce insomnia. The hauntingly beautiful "Mary Magdalene" is on ode to the communities affected by Hurricane Sandy and has garnered support from several New York City stations for its heartfelt lyrics and sincere respect for the people struggling to get their lives back to normal.
A treasure trove of musical influences, including jazz, blues and folk, permeate throughout and the end result is a cohesive, thought-provoking record.