Queen City Sounds: September 2023 by Tom Murphy

Queen City Sounds
By Tom Murphy
Published Issue 117, September 2023


Isadora Eden had already established a respectable body of work in a more imaginative indie rock vein with earlier releases. This album is stylistically a great leap forward in terms of command of tone both emotionally and sonically. The guitar work is dually melodic and noisy in the way that makes the best shoegaze records thrilling. The lyrics are introspective and melancholic and Eden’s voice has a quality that is vulnerable and strong, gentle yet commanding. There is a deep sense of having processed loss and regret, of having struggled through existential disappointment and emotional trauma while being able to turn those dark vibrations of the spirit into something beautiful and transcendent. When you feel like you’ve failed yourself and others and are troubled as a result, you have to find a way to forgive yourself to move forward into a better place. This album is a soundtrack to not only that personal journey, but one of wading through the confusion, stasis and sense of impending peril that cloaks all our lives. These songs honor those feelings of uncertainty but also the will to weather on to hopefully better days.


This album features Colorado improvisational music stars Bret Sexton on alto sax and electronics, Farrell Lowe on electric guitar and pedals, Bill McCrossen on upright bass, electric fretless bass with slide, cello with looper and waterphone, and Ron Coulter on drums, percussion and lo-fi electronics as SeFa LoCo working with free jazz legend Vinny Golia on piccolo flute and clarinet. It’s a lively set of music that layers almost iterative percussion with the other instrumentation, tracing figures playfully outside the undeniable forward momentum of the piece in a fashion more in common with one of Anthony Braxton’s free music sessions of the late 60s than what might superficially be called jazz. There is as much a focus on textures and the physical aspect of sound as tone and rhythm, and to take the latter and tie that to a concept of expression rather than conventions of style. The song “Some Broken Machine” sounds just like that and that machine lamenting its fate yet pondering the possibility of its new configuration. Which itself seems to be the guiding principle of these compositions — to pursue an idea to its possible and not inevitable conclusions.


Over the early period of the pandemic bassist Larry Boothroyd (perhaps best known for being a founding member of Victims Family) collaborated with over 60 musicians from across the world to produce this 23 song, double LP. Contributors include current and former members of Dead Kennedys, Built to Spill, Alice Donut, Nomeansno, Butthole Surfers among others including drummer Brian Polk of Joy Subtraction and other Denver bands. The latter was contacted by Boothroyd to contribute a drum part but it evolved into a multiple songs. The record is a surprisingly coherent affair of eclectic style and steeped in a hybrid of art rock, psychedelia and punk. Think Minutemen meets Mr. Bungle, a beat poet and an even more acid-damaged James Gang. It shouldn’t work yet it does with a haunted and relentless spirit beginning to end without wearing out a musical idea.


The fine, gauzy textures that drape each of these songs lends it a dreamlike quality bringing to the music a joyful effervescence that creates an intimacy and immediacy of a memory. You feel like you’ve heard this music before, like in a soundtrack to the psychedelic 1970s films of Alejandro Jodorowsky or Werner Herzog. The use of space in the composition feels like something you can get lost in immediately and not want to come back because what lies ahead is a more blissful existence. The song “Anarquía Primaveral (desmantelar la historia)” in particular is like a deep well of ancestral memory made into sonic art that you can connect with if you’re willing to follow those energies tovthose resonances inside your own being. These songs have a mystique to them but one that feels benevolent and welcoming, lending comfort at the idea of the potentially rapturous unknown.

For more see queencitysoundsandart.wordpress.com

Tom Murphy is a Denver-based music writer and science fiction/fantasy/horror creator. He is also a musician, historian and itinerant filmmaker.

Check out Tom’s August Queen City Sounds in case you missed it or head to our Explore section to see more of his past reviews.

1 thought on “Queen City Sounds: September 2023 by Tom Murphy”

  1. Pingback: Queen City Sounds: October 2023 by Tom Murphy - BIRDY MAGAZINE

Comments are closed.