Lose Today

IND 096 LP

The Stare Case players are long-term musical savages. They have ebbed, eked, and proliferated among the shadowed lines of musical habit and intuitive aesthetic necessity for years. So much have they enveloped their sounds in undefined parameters that they have bypassed any present-day artistic credence and taken the timeline of musical history, and methodology of music production, and transposed it. As a byproduct, Stare Case is a unit that measures its own time and space.

Duo John Olson and Nate Young, names commonly associated with the underworld regime’s electronic noise kings Wolf Eyes, are runaways, yet their direction toward the primitive and battered blues has been somewhat inevitable. At first, it appears accidental that the same players who have produced countless screeching aural onslaughts are creating the subtly sensitive and focused meanderings of fleshy and intricate scales. On second thought, Olson and Young love to push the envelope, as well as themselves, and Lose Today shows traces of their ever-present and contorting thumbprint: raw elegance. Though perhaps the mere consideration of the majestic noise kings performing by note seems both perplexing and cumbersome, think again. Their methods are cunning and their outpour is monstrously elegiac.

The brawn behind De Stijl Records, Clint Simonson, has a long working relationship with Olson and Young, reaching back to 1995. When he helped the band get signed to Sub Pop in 2003, Simonson was something of the mortar in the wall of fate that has become present-day legends Wolf Eyes. As a result, Simonson knows more thoroughly than most that Olson and Young are notorious for their fluctuating experiments, performing by way of chaos and intuition, featuring primarily a barrage of homemade electronics. Thus the brutal sounds that have historically emerged have been, needless to say, sometimes shocking, sometimes violent, but always poignant and unearthly. Performing as the duo Stare Case, however… Simonson must have noticed a momentous shift occurring. Young and Olson operate using notes and scales, and the feeling produced is subterranean and cavernous, though excessively mind-altering. As per usual. The progeny of such sophisticated technique from two beastly pioneering musicians has rendered a seductive and subtle album, mending for the pondering.

Lose Today wields the ethereal meditative power leftover from The Velvet Underground’s Sweet Sister Ray epic bootleg. The result: a melodious somnolent grievance that leaves the listener to feast on a curiously endless and internal banquet. Young snarls and writhes in irritated spiraling pronouncements that trail off in regretful, pained fashion, producing the same eventual something-isn’t-right that The Velvet Underground secured, but set aside to allow the Michigan basement bluesmen to borrow. Also, here is Young’s virgin performance on bass, a venture that proves suiting as his sparse yet stable meanderings are the backbone to a jam lost in the arcane. At times the bass lines seem to be counting off the seconds until an eventual meltdown. Meanwhile, Olson wanders off on woodwinds, seemingly tangled in wavelengths, letting his own sounds guide him through a brassy chilling darkness. He follows scales—Indian scales, blues scales—though the subtlety of Olson’s discipline fosters to an expansive intimacy, a nuance so massive his quips on flute and saxophone are the secret architects of Lose Today’s meditation. Olson takes the spiraling mania inspired by the likes of The VU’s Sweet Sister Ray lose-all jam and lets it blossom into a soundtrack for a secret think tank whose sole purpose is to maintain a shadowed fire.

Though proudly and vehemently inspired by The Velvet Underground, Stare Case players are responsible for their own legend, which they have been building upon for a long time before the creation of Lose Today. The pressure is on. Good thing Stare Case players thrive on that, translating the pressure to the listener as melodious, lost requiems. The crux now, however, is that Olson and Young are imposing upon the listener a profound jam that is sophisticated, refined. The uneasiness Olson and Young have pegged is genuine, as is the shadow trailing every note. Though history is not repeating itself, it does show its teeth marks in Lose Today. It’s the same players, but a whole new set of rules.

~ C.V. Summer 2011