Cold Cave Bios
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.
Cold Cave will be touring extensively through the end of 2009 and in early 2010
Nocturnal activity has always
played a pivotal role in Wesley Eisold’s art. Growing up without his feet in
the same soil for more than a year, restlessness and change are integral parts
of his creative process. It only makes sense that Cherish The Light Years is a
product not only of the nonstop electricity of a new city but also the perfect
soundtrack to nights spent exploring any foreign place.
Cherish The Light Years is a
remarkable progression - melodically, sonically, emotionally - both from Cold
Cave's acclaimed debut Love Comes Close and the discordant, industrial
skeletons on the Cremations compilation. "Cremations is only two years old
but it's so drastically different," Eisold says. "Cherish The Light
Years is what I then envisioned happening in the future, but I was just
starting to make my own songs, and it escalated to this. Through
experimentation I stumbled on more song-oriented music."
Eisold's lyrics, largely
inspired by nighttime walks after moving to New York City, are an extension of
his work running the Heartworm publishing imprint. "That is a really
important part of Cold Cave too. Lyrically, I want to convey what a lot of my
favorite writers give me to other people. I want there to be this air of
romance that has a seedy underbelly, like Jean Genet."
Not unlike Genet, Lou Reed,
Baudelaire or Arthur Russell, Eisold uses the temptations of the City to
examine the duality of human nature: "It's impossible not to notice, or be
intrigued by, or partake in these things. I think the whole record is a
reflection of that, but also questioning your reaction to it, asking how much
will you partake?"
Cherish The Light Years is the
summing up of Eisold’s musical journey to date. "I wanted the record to
pertain to every musical moment of my life, from being a kid who's into The
Cure or New Order or some of the early Siouxsie records to some of the last few
bands I've been in too." (Prior to Cold Cave, Eisold was in hardcore
groups Some Girls and American Nightmare). He adds that British albums like
Suede's Dog Man Star and Pulp's Different Class had an impact, especially in
their murky yet romantic sensuality: "I don't know why I have such an
affinity for that realm, it's just there. It’s a feeling that can't be
accurately explained. But it was important to me that this record was going to
be as American-sounding as those records were British-sounding."
A striking attribute of Cherish
The Light Years is Eisold's newfound vocal strength. Citing Scott Walker’s work
on the Walker Brothers’ 1978 Nite Flights LP as a key influence (an album in
which Walker’s dramatic synth-based songs essentially mapped out the future of
anthemic electronic pop), he explains: "Playing live so much the last
couple years, I became more comfortable singing, and I wanted to make the
vocals on this album much bolder." It's this that gives Cherish The Light
Years its brave, dark scope. Take “Underworld USA”, “Confetti” or “The Great
Pan Is Dead”, where apocalyptic lyricism contrasts with a relentless electronic
Eisold has always loved
contrast. It's what drew him to New York, the beauty on one side of the street
and the decay on the other. "I've always loved upbeat dance songs with
those kind of downer lyrics - this is the Cold Cave version of that." The
passionate first single “Villains Of The Moon” exemplifies this dark stadium
pop, with no gaseous clouds of pomposity obscuring the song at the core, while
“Burning Sage” uses S&M cracking beats behind the synth grandiosity of
mid-period Depeche Mode;
Cherish The Light Years is an
ode to his adopted city, New York, and the record Eisold always wanted to make.
“It’s about bringing this world of feelings in my head into the actual world,
and having it exist there.”