New Comets Ov Cupid EP. Over the last few years Comets Ov Cupid has taken on a power trio formation to play more metallic instrumental Space Rock pieces. Erik Wivinus (bass) and Matt Entsminger (drums) both hailing from the legendary Minneapolis Space Rock Band Thunderbolt Pagoda. Erik and Matt bring forth a volcanic energy that really moves Comets into some exciting new territory. I hope you enjoy. Dave Onnen of Thunderbolt Pagoda at the recording helm. Best when played loud.



Vortex Navigation Company – Son


A few years ago Sean Connaughty made this video out at my family’s ranch in Kindred North Dakota. The music is from an improvisation between former members of Skye Klad, Salamander, and Vortex Navigation. Definitely Kosmische! See Sean’s description below.

This music was recorded in a Barn in Kindred North Dakota, September 2008 Adam Backstrom, Dave Onnen, Erik Wivinus, Jason Kesselring and Sean Connaughty. Video is from Kindred ND

Salamander – Vessel Is Vacant


Salamander’s “Birds of Appetite” was possibly the most epic of there releases and by this time had therhythmic bedrock of Dave Onnen and Matt Zaun both coming from Skye Klad. This song is one of my favorites from that album. Check out the review below. 

“Birds of Appetite” was Salamander’s most consistent and definitive work to date, refining their mix of eastern-influenced acid folk and giant Ash Ra Tempel-ish cosmic improvisations. It marked the end of a trilogy that documented the first phase of the band, and its rarity led to a 2003 CD release for those that missed out on the vinyl version. By this point, Bryce Kastning had departed to pursue ambient solo work (though he still occasionally contributes to the band’s efforts and remains a good friend to the band as well as a member of Vortex Navigation Company). Skye Klad’s Matthew Zaun took his place on the drum stool. After the recording of “Birds of Appetite” and Salamander’s short East-coast tour with labelmates Primordial Undermind and the Japanese psych monsters Overhang Party, bassist Doug Morman also moved out of state and decided to bow out of the group in order to settle into his life as an avid horticulturist and devoted husband and father of two. His position on bass was ably filled by Skye Klad bassist Dave Onnen, who along with Zaun forms the precise rhythm-section that is the bedrock of Salamander’s music to this day.

Comets Ov Cupid (Cupid) – “Metalgazer” (Magusmusic 2006, #001, ltd. ed. CD-EP) review From Aural Innovations #35 (January 2007)

comets ov cupidcometsovcupid

Cupid – “Metalgazer”
(Magusmusic 2006, #001, ltd. ed. CD-EP)

From Aural Innovations #35 (January 2007)

Cupid is the solo project of Jason Kesselring, the former guitarist/vocalist of Minneapolis psych/space-rockers Skye Klad (later Satyrswitch). “Metalgazer” is a single-take recording of just over 20 minutes, an instrumental textural drone piece loosely constructed in three movements. Kesselring employs only a single guitar, colored with a myriad of delay and echo effects, and in the middle section, an actual violin bow (as opposed to the so-popular, and non-destructive, e-bow). In lieu of an actual recording studio, Kesselring chose to record in the Sacred Heart Cathedral in Duluth, MN, which offered (in his words) “transcendent acoustic properties.”

The piece opens with a somewhat dissonant wailing drone, but then quickly charges into a layered heavy stoner riff, that repeats (MIDI-fied echo-playback unit obviously in use here) as Kesselring then adds in additional counterpoint statements on the off-beats, and eventually a fuzzy soaring lead break over the top. I remember a Swedish (?) guy named Bond Berglund doing this sort of on-the-fly composition technique live (ironically also in a former Catholic church in Pittsburgh, PA) as an opening act for The Brain (Farflung electronic alter-ego) and Cluster (Moebius & Roedelius), and it was very effective and I’d always wanted to hear more of this kind of thing. Anyway, by the time we’re six minutes in, Kesselring has ramped up the energy full blast and he’s shredding on the strings, and then stomping on the wah and delay pedals for the initial denoument. Movement Two is the eerie minimalist drone segment, with just some incidental sounds as the backdrop for the bowed guitar statements. Kesselring really teases you here, letting the various tones and chords bleed out of the instrument and echo through the cathedral a bit more slowly than the listener would normally expect, and the sense of anticipation for the next stroke keeps you involved.

Finally, at fifteen minutes in, the heavier fuzz-echo riffs return and we get into some heavy echo drone that is a bit reminiscent of the kind of thing that Sunn O))) does. Frankly, the hooded Sunn-gods rather much bore me to death, but applied in moderation and mixed in with a number of different textures as Kesselring does here, the end effect is anything but boring. By the time the final strands of reverb-guitar come slowly to the landing, crisscrossing the runway in waves of sonic disturbance and fuzzy echo, “Metalgazer” has proven itself to be really quite a nice affair indeed. Check it out.

Metalgazer has been released in a simple paper-sleeve packaging as a very limited edition of 75, each individually numbered, and can be obtained from

Reviewed by Keith Henderson

VARIOUS ARTISTS – HUNGRY GHOSTS (Skye Klad and others) Mutant Music Comp – Ptolemaic Terrascope April 2005



(Mutant Music, P.O. Box 4549, Saint Paul, MN 55104 USA


    Mutant guru (and Skye Klad/Salamander bassist/producer) Dave Onnen assembled this 2xCD collection with David Miller from Fadladder, whose glossy, electronic, Kraftwerkian “Incense” is one of several highlights on Disk 1, which opens with Onnen and his Skye Klad mates beckoning us to “AWAKE!” (emphasis in the original). A brain-rattling, ominous shitstorm of a “how do you do,” it highlights their gothic metal trappings and paves the way for the avant electronic soundscapes to follow. I’m reminded of Italian soundtrack progsters, Golem’s ‘Orion Awakes’ and this may be the sound of the mythological son of Poseidon showering, shitting and shaving after a night of hearty partying…and he is not in a good mood! Stephen Meixner’s metallic Faustian electronics form the background for half a dozen readings from Harry Stolt’s diary, which namechecks his fascination with krautrock, Trio’s “Da Da Da,” and Falco’s “Der Kommisar” in the weird and wonderful “ndw.” Sheet Metal music aficionados of the work of Faust, Einsturzende Neubauten and Lou Reed’s unlistenable ‘Metal Machine Music’ will enjoy the pants-shitting scares of The Breast Fed Yak’s “The Joey Rejection” (originally available on their Birdman recording, ‘Get Your Greasy Head off the Sham’) and Argentinean noisemonger and Reynols co-founder, Christian Dergarabedian (aka C.D.)’s “Musica para el universo frio,” but they’re not exactly material that others will want to revisit.

    Experimental sonic architecture is the order of the day for the remainder of Disk 1, with the electronic, tone-poem-cum-hearing-tests that are Jazzhorse’s “Caravan” (the results of a bit too much overexposure to “Wisconsin Brown” if you ask me!) and ex-:zoviet*france sound manipulator, Robin Storey (aka Rapoon)’s “Dysfunctional Ghosts of Jazz” leading the way. These may please fans of Mark DiGenero’s ‘Wire Music’ collaborations with Alastair Galbraith and those of you who fall to sleep each night with your ‘Ohm: Early Gurus of Electronic Music’ box tucked under your pillows. If you’ve ever found yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night in the middle of the winter, prolific Canadian artist Jim Dejong (aka The Infant Cycle)’s “Exhaling Your Tape Hiss” may just about capture that bone-chilling fear. Scott Puhl (aka Dm) contributes “Lesslist,” which consists of ominous, throbbing, sterile basslines that add a brilliant icy sheen to the ambient, speaker hum works of Eno, Stars of the Lid, Aix Em Klemm, and early Aarktica and Azusa Plane.

    Not to be outdone by Sonic Boom and his collection of noisemakers that

made up Experimental Audio Research’s ‘Data Rape’ release a few years back, Not Breathing offers “Crossover,” wherein Dave Wright combines circuit-bending toys, reverb and his cellphone scanner to closely approximate the toy aisle at your local K-Mart on Christmas Eve. Minneapolis’ own guitar heroes, (Rich) Barlow/(Jesse) Petersen/(Erik)Wivinus wrap up Disk 1 with “Flooded Forest,” a three-guitar onslaught that is a nebulous intersection of wind chimes and an approaching freight train howling in the distance. If Skye Klad is awakening the beast, these guys capture the pre-cognitive, procreative juices from which it sprang and whets the appetite for what awaits us over on Disk 2…

    …which is somewhat less effective, featuring mostly abstract sound collages with lots of recordings of air, electricity, downed wires, broken circuits, loopy electronics and assorted beeps, burps and blunders. Nevertheless, several tracks are worth repeat visits, including Brett Smith (aka Caul)’s illbient “Collapsing Bell,” an electronic horrorshow that rises from its “hum”-ble beginnings to razors-on-blackboards shards of white noise, with lots of whistling tones akin to rubbing fingers along wineglass rims along the way. The strangest track in the compilation, Jared Davidson’s “The Songs Hidden in the Long Grass” is composed entirely of field recordings of cicadas, grasshoppers and crickets. It may either lull you to sleep at night, or induce creepy-crawlies under your skin, but in either case, should be labeled with an acid-ingestion warning.

    A warning of a different sort is offered via the latest from Dan Burke’s 20-year old project, Illusion of Safety, whose “Too Much of a Good Thing Is Never Enough” sounds like someone tossed Inspector Gadget into the swimming pool and recorded him short-circuiting. Industrial punks and noiseniks may also enjoy “5×7 in White Styrene with Turques Droplets” from fellow Twin Cities label owner (Doctsect), Cordell Klier. While it sounds, to me, a little like a chemistry experiment gone awry, it certainly illustrates why he was voted “Best Avant Garde Artist” of 2003 by the local writers in City Pages.

    While most of these artists may not be familiar to anyone outside their small circle of friends, ‘Hungry Ghosts’ goes a long way toward rectifying that. Overall, it’s an eclectic mixed bag with more hits than misses (perhaps slightly overextended – a single disk would have been perfect) that is recommended to fans of ‘The Ohm Box’ and other avant garde, outré electronic, glitch music and circuit bending recordings.. In fact, Experimental Audio Research would have been the perfect title if Sonic Boom hadn’t already taken it! (Jeff Penczak)

Skye Klad interview -The Minnesota Daily – 06/11/2001

Minnesota maximalists in space


I met with representatives of local space rock out-fit Skye Klad the other day, the self-proclaimed “mobile multipurpose unit specializing in the avenues of sonic-research and experimentation,” who cite such influences as Can and Sonic Youth, and oddly enough no iridescent spaceship or smoking delorean was at the coffee shop to meet me when I arrived.

Instead I sat outside in the Minneapolis twilight with deceptively normal and criminally laid back Jason Kesselring and Matt Zaun, drank domestic coffee, and discussed, among other things, the artistic process and the wiley world of rock and roll genres.

Skye Klad is a contradiction in terms in all respects. Where its music is loud and unabashed, it is also home to bright sharply excuted guitar work, quivering theremin and penetrating lyrics. Where their stage show is a wild entanglement of mood lighting, pure adrenalin, and most recently, carnivalesque performance art, the bands’ off-stage demeanor is so soft and sane it belies even the notion of wildness.

Much in the same way that David Lynch’s wholesome upbringing was the perfect inspiration for his sardonic film noir, Skye Klad is a group of five artists who seek to give their audience music that rescues them from the banality of everyday life. Or do they …?

The Lens: How long have you guys been playing together?

Skye Klad: Since 1997 I think — when we first started out. It was initially just myself [Jason Kesselring] and Matt [Zaun]. Before we got together under the name Skye Klad, it was something that was more or less kind of “arty” — a lot of soundscapes. The whole ambient music craze was just starting to catch on then.


T.L.: How long ago did Skye Klad, your album, come out?

S.K.: It just came out. Actually Friday June 1st was the CD release party.


T.L.: Did you put out an EP before you put out Skye Klad?

S.K.: We had an EP that was around 1998 probably, about a year and a half after we started, around the same time when we got our singer. That was when everything started heading in this direction, away from the really experimental — experimenting for the sake of experimenting.


T.L.: Outside of the fact that your music was “arty,” how else would you describe it? Did you have songs or did you just sort of go out there and make noise?

S.K.: We had songs that were more like structures and frameworks — we did a lot of improvising. We played a lot of art opening shows, with free jazz groups, and with Savage Aural Hotbed. We played this underground art music showcase called “The New Atlantis” that used to happen at Jitters on Nicollet Mall.


T.L.: Would you say that musically you’re a lot different now then when you started?

S.K.: No, not really. The kernel of our sort of sonic experimentation is basically to go and be as modern as possible. At the same time we try to keep that spirit of really classic recordings — you know, psychedelic recording from the sixties — early Pink Floyd and Syd Barret stuff which is about songs. We’re working with the pop format, but shoving this heavy electronic sound into it.


T.L.: How would you define your sound – I mean if you had to pick a genre? I read an article on you that referred to your music as sci-fi or space rock.

S.K.: We’ve always kind of termed it space rock — sci-fi is a little weird. We’re not really into science fiction. I guess we’re more or less maximalists — minimalism kind of lulls you and seduces you. We’re very much in your face — not ambiguous or oblique. We’re really influenced by early industrial music like Throbbing Gristle — stuff that’s really jarring. We kind of look at psychedelic music and space rock from those angels — more harsh, a little cynical, a little subversive, a little twisted.


T.L.: You have a lot strange song names — “Toxaphene” for instance. That’s a pesticide?

S.K.: Yeah, “Toxaphene” is a weird one. That’s Adam, our singer’s, song — he writes the lyrics. It’s kind of a scenario song, a scene seen through the eyes of a murderer.It’s not meant to be gruesome — its just viewing things from a different perspective and writing a song about it. When we write songs we’re trying not to be didactic. It’s very much like trying to tell a story.

A lot of times we won’t even know what the lyrics are until we’ve been playing the songs for a while and then one of us will ask Adam, and then the song really takes on its form. “Toxaphene” is one of the more laid back songs instrumentally on the album, but the lyrical content at the same time contrasts the music. It’s a perfect example of how the words can change the song.


T.L.: What’s up with that strange metaphysical definition of Skye Klad on your Web site? Is it meant to be tongue and cheek or …?

S.K.: It’s a way to look at it. [T.L.: A way to look at your music?] Yeah, like we’re trying to achieve something other than just writing songs. That’s the way I’ve always looked at it. It means a lot of things. That was written more during our experimental phase, but it stays there because, even though the first song on the new album “Mind’s Eye” is a three or four chord pop song in the traditional manner we want to address things and go beyond “baby I love you,” or singing about absurd things. We want to talk about things that are little more intellectual or even mythological.


T.L.: To be honest, it kind of reminded me of something from the X-Files — something Mulder would say?

S.K.: (Matt — chuckling) Yeah, we all have an interest in stuff like that. Take it for what it’s worth.


T.L.: Where did you guys get the name Skye Klad?

S.K.: It comes from pagan culture — it’s a pagan term for going nude in a ritual setting: “sky clad.” When I was starting a band I thought it was a cool word — I liked how it sounded, and I changed the spelling – stylized it I guess.


T.L.: How would you say you fit into the Twin Cities scene? Would you say that it’s embracing of sort of yours and other bands’ “unorthodox” music stylings?

S.K.: I think it is. In fact I’m kind of shocked by the adulation we’ve received thus far. There’s a lot of little scenes in town, I’d say we work outside of that. We don’t really look at scenes though, we’re more interested in getting our music out globally — especially through the site — it’s amazing how many people catch on to it through that. There’s lots of networks of just ravenous collector types who are really interested in our type of music. For example, one of the members of our band is in a group called Salamander, they’re pretty much unknown around here — they couldn’t get arrested, and yet he gets write-ups in countless magazines in Europe.

There’s a lot of things here that go unnoticed as far as music as music goes — a lot of little events that take place where there’s phenomenal stuff going on, and a lot of people don’t know about it.

—Cara Spoto


Skye Klad – “Extreme Vacuum Person” (Hermetic Recordings 1997, CD) review From Aural Innovations #4 (October 1998

Skye Klad – “Extreme Vacuum Person”
(Hermetic Recordings 1997, CD)

From Aural Innovations #4 (October 1998)

On this 5-song (30 minute) CD, Minnesota’s Skye Klad plays a dreamy, ethereal form of spacerock that is backed by complex instrumentation, and some wonderfully freaky guitar sounds. The band consists of Adam Backstrom on vocals, Jason Kesselring on guitars, synths, and theremin, Matt Zaun on percussion and samples, and Tim Donahue on bass (the promo material and web page say Dave Onnen is now the bassist).

The disc opens with “The Somnium”. Musically this reminded me a bit of Architectural Metaphor, though even more psychedelic. The promo material compares the band to Can and after revisiting some early Can recordings I can say this is fairly accurate. A banquet of guitar sounds and effects produce a subtle intensity that reveals something new with subsequent listens. “Journey To Inner Space” combines simple, but psychedelically eerie guitar notes with wildly busy electronic percussion and a pounding bass. “Song II” is more of the same with Backstrom’s simultaneously dreamy and harsh vocals.

The band begins to stray into King Crimson influenced territory on “The Amplification Of Stephen Hawking’s Brain”. A repeating robotic voice says ‘Dark mystery of time and space’ throughout the song backed by tribal percussion, guitar attacks, and low-end bass. The pace soon picks up and then veers into a still very spacey, but 80’s-era funky Crimson jam. The Crimson influence is even stronger on “The Theory Of Creating Artificial Lifeforms”. More like a mid-70’s Crimson jam, the tension builds slowly as percussion, bass, and guitar jam away distinctly from one another. Kesselring’s guitar is Frippoid but far more acidic. I want to emphasize that despite the obvious Crimson influences these guys manage to stay well within the realm of spacerock. This music begs to be heard live and I’ll bet the band thrives when able to stretch out on stage.

In summary, I find Skye Klad’s use of complex instrumentation and Crimson-like jamming style within a spacerock context refreshing. Hopefully the band is working on a full-length follow up to this short introduction to their music.

Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz