SYNDICATE
Posted by: Dave on August 25, 2001 at 11:52 pm

So what does it sound like when the long-time bassist of the post-modern Jazz group The Lounge Lizards, and chief creative force behind the junkyard-percussion-driven (think Tom Waits), avant-rockers Skeleton Key, records his first solo record? Well, almost nothing like his previous projects. Erik Sanko’s Past Imperfect, Present Tense is spare but ample, despondent but occasionally hopeful, and scattered but somehow cohesive.

The opening track “While You Were Out” establishes the album’s most common mood and theme, creepy horror and ill-fated relationships. The dark-comic account finds a lover reading a “Dear John” letter that starts “While you were out, a few things have changed,” and concludes with “Goodbye…scrawled in red.” Creating a similar sense of uneasiness are the haunted carnival feel of “Blow, Wind Blow,” the hollow Goth ballad “The Ghost of A Snake” and lyrics like “It’s easy to remember, but it’s hard to forget what hurts the most,” (“Easy to Remember”). But that’s only one facet of this complex stew. “That Train’s” sweet country harmonies, raw slide guitar and mechanically chugging percussion sound like they belong on the “O Brother, Where Art Thou” soundtrack. The atmospheric and inspirational “Finger String” and “The Perfect Flaw” could make their way into the Pink Floyd or Peter Gabriel canon with slicker production. And the fresh, spring-like lilt and hilarious call-and-response (Sanko with a Speak and Spell) of “I Get Along Fine (Without You)” turns Sanko’s recurring pain of doomed relationships into glee, or more likely denial.

In this eclectic mishmash, one thing you don’t find is evidence of Sanko’s Jazz background. But keen songwriting and daring musical mélanges make for an intriguing solo debut.

– Dave Powers
(As posted 8/25/01 on 3wk.com)



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