When it comes
to getting profoundly immersed in a piece of art or music, one method is to
allow yourself to get a bit baffled by what you're trying to perceive лл but
just a little. You do want to fall into a hole, but you want to know that
you can still crawl out of that hole eventually and see all your friends
again. Because it's lonely at the bottom of an art hole.
Los Angeles beat-combo/art-and-film
aggregate Hecuba is a prime source for such satisfying confusion. This duo
comprises the very interesting Isabelle Albuquerque and Jon Beasley, who
began their fertile creative partnership in a steamy bog in the deep, deep
South. After a move to NYC, where both were involved in various visual-art
endeavors, the pair decided to pool their inspirations into musical form.
Their move to California brought new
methodologies and has helped the duo's flair for exceptionally nonclichd
musical hybrids blossom in Sir, on the hugely relevant Manimal Vinyl label. Sir is the first of a planned
series of "concept" EPs from Hecuba; this one includes a
reinterpretation of the title track by Lucky Dragons. Additional remixes
have been done by the pair's wiggy pals Butchy Fuego and Haz'm.
The pair's newish full-length Paradise on that very same Manimal
label extends Albuquerque and Beasley's densely conceptualized meltdowns of
manifold and juxtapositional relationships of pure tonality and texture and
compulsive beat with arcane shards of vocal utterance hovering above
love, desire, distraction and thirst for revenge, all sort of granulated so
you fall through the cracks between the atoms, perhaps finally feeling an
intense need for more book learning, foreign films and sexual intercourse.
(The beats are Dionysian; the auras and vistas are Apollonian and
So strange and eclectic and genuinely
dramatic, Hecuba's evolving live shows are visually arresting affairs of
beautifully bizarre costumery, choreographed gesture and projected
filmworks; such multihued, heady events showcase a rather woolly punky
proggy rock with downtempo doo-woppy-dubby electro-gospel-hip-hop
overtones, as you might say.
was born in Montgomery, Alabama," says Beasley, "and my first
musical experiences were singing in the church choir. But I didn't make
music again until later in my life лл I was doing visual art and making
films. That's kind of where we get the most cinematic parts of what we do,
Beasley did time in Chicago, and
while making a movie in New York he met Albuquerque, who'd auditioned for a
role in the film and ended up with the lead. "It was an art kind of
film about alien abductions and how people use it as a way to express other
traumas," Albuquerque says. The pair started working on music the
first night, and have not stopped since.
The couple's art backgrounds come
into play in their strikingly visual live events, yet their visual art also
affects their music's very sound. That's because, says Albuquerque, art and
music, if not two sides of the same coin, at least share a similar spirit.
"Music is basically the format
we're doing our art in," she says. "We were happy doing film, but
when we started doing music, everything just clicked: This is a way to
communicate without a bunch of money involved лл you can just get straight
For visual artists used to laboring
in despairing obscurity on projects that can take months to finish and
years to get a response, the idea of presenting their art via music is an
appealing one. But for Hecuba, the music will never follow the concept,
exactly. "We do come from a visual-arts background," Albuquerque
says, "but it's important to us to make, like, musical music. We're
not just like a crazy-art thing.
"A lot of times we think of Peter
and the Wolf,"
she adds. "It's completely musical, but it's enormously visual."
take not the biggest but a sizable and discerning chunk of artistic
influence лл Robert
Wyatt and Charles Ives, Stanley Kubrick and Patti Smith,
Pharrell and Aphex Twin - and rub it together intelligently. One of
Beasley's springboards was 1960s and '70s soundtrack composer Wendy Carlos,
whose Switched-on Bach made a big impression. "Somehow, that made total sense
to me, because there's a purity of sound: the most beautiful synthesizers,
and then this classic songwriting, mathematical and pure.
came from a different place, and it was able to touch anybody. It was so
musical and so incredible that something went way above all the ideological
things and just touched everybody."
Sounds like Hecuba.
"Sometimes our music's weird, I
guess," Albuquerque says, "but we're trying to skip all the
rules. It's an exciting time.