GENTLE TASADAY & NOXAGT

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Gentle Tasaday is project made up of duo of Erik Wivinus and Eric Hofferber. Sounding like a more Kosmische take on Current 93 or Nurse With Wound they were capable of kicking up a real sense of dread on a galactic level. They were label mates on Camera Obscura and of course Erik plays with me in Comets Ov Cupid and was in Skye Klad. I remember playing one or two live dates with them playing electric guitar while Erik played acoustic. The track “Snow Queen” was from a Tom Rapp/ Pearls Before Swine tribute album on Secret Eye. The second track is by a group Noxagt who I unfortunately know little about.

Gentle Tasaday – “Snow Queen”
Noxagt – “Regions of May”

V.A. “For the Dead in Space II & III”
A Tribute to Pearls Before Swine and Tom Rapp
Secret Eye Records, 2003

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Skye Klad feature-First Avenue In-House Magazine – 11.04.99

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We have experienced this sort of musical phenomenon before and were intrigued by the information Solarium presented to us. Let us avoid the usual fallbacks of “dreamy,” “trippy,” and “spacey” in describing this event. The crew for this Solarium project consists of Skye Klad, Peter Anderson (Polara), Stuart Devaan (Savage Aural Hotbed), Erik Wivinus (Salamander, Gentle Tasaday), Fred Teasley (Ousia), Di Dollari, Flybussen and Optical Alchemy. The amalgam certainly includes people from area bands that have been described as such, but the project is more than just the sound of the music.

The Solarium project is less of a gig than a concept being put into practice and is built with the goal of changing the way people think of music as being presented. Rather than having a night of similar bands/friends play together with a theme, the whole night is one giant collaboration. There will be no band set times, no set changes and no witty banter as tunings or strings are changed – at least not as the audience has learned to recognize these phenomena. What happens at Solarium is an ebb and flow of music and lineup over the course of the show. People will mount the stage, people will leave the stage. People will be added, people will be subtracted. Sound will be mutiplied, sound will be simplified.

The last Solarium experiment was successful. The scientists of Skye Klad, Solarium labs, and their friends at First Avenue invite you to investigate this wonderful opportunity. Come witness music – the event formerly known as the “gig” – as an organism.

-First Avenue In-House Magazine – 11.04.99

(Camera Obscura 1999, CAM024CD) Skye Klad – “Mind’s Eye b/w Kindred From Aural Innovations #8 (October 1999)

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Gentle Tasaday – “In the Mind’s Eye of a Blind Tasaday”
(Camera Obscura 1999, CAM023CD) Vortex Navigation Company – “Things Make Patterns as they Fall”
(Camera Obscura 1999, CAM024CD) Skye Klad – “Mind’s Eye b/w Kindred Raga “( pre-release copy 1999)

From Aural Innovations #8 (October 1999)

Here are three more items from the Minneapolis SpaceRock Family (Salamander, Skye Klad, et al.), which you can read more about in the Live Review section. Both of Salamander’s guitarists have been working on side projects lately, and Erik Wivinus’ other band Skye Klad is also working on new material. Let’s start with Gentle Tasaday, the duo of Erik and Eric; the latter being Eric Hofferber who adds vocals, cornet, flute, electronics, and percussion to the gamut of instruments that Erik W. plays. First the name… I admit I initially read it as ‘Gentle Tuesday.’ Doh! But no, I have since learned that the Tasaday are an isolated cave-dwelling tribe ‘discovered’ in the Philippines in 1971. Soon thereafter hailed as a Stone Age relic, now many anthropologists denounce them as fakes. Anyway, on to the music.

The album starts rather oddly with the high-pitched sonic f/X of “Psychedelic Emergency” (exactly how it sounds) and then another distant echoey piece (“Stone Grape: Part One”) with only a very subtle rhythm and some flute bits here and there. But then “Sad Wheel of the Season” presents a cool psychedelic/folk mix with quiet spoken word vocals and excellent lead guitar work (a little like Dave Brock’s pre-HW “Illusions”). A similar style (acoustic and electric guitars working together now) takes hold in both “Summer Story” and “Vision Burn,” featuring what I’m guessing is e-bow applied to Erik’s Vox Cheetah guitar. The whispered readings finally become loud enough to make out in “Walking on the Coals to the Coldest Despair,” a seemingly random bunch of thoughts like “With sweet music in the air, I saw another vision.” Awright. “Gethsemane Aflame” is undoubtedly the most uptempo and ‘poppy’ piece on the album, a welcome change of pace from the dronier pieces. The finale “Of Cobwebs and Obtuse Angels” is a pretty bizarre collection of sampled ‘chipmunk voices’ and horror-film style noises and f/X…what a way to finish! As far as the music goes, Gentle Tasaday is very much like Tombstone Valentine (see SD’99 review), or even moreso the Aether supergroup ‘In the Summer of the Mushroom Honey’ (see AI#7). Eric H.’s spoken-style vocals are rather appropriate here, but I must admit to favoring TV’s Richelle Toombs more prominent soulful singing over similar trancelike sounds. Gentle Tasaday is a worthwhile journey nonetheless.

Vortex Navigation Company is the duo of Salamander’s Sean Connaughty and Wes Morden (sharing duties on guitar, vocals, and loops/fX), with various guests (mainly percussion), to a large part doing spontaneous improvisations in one or the other’s basement ‘studios.’ “Green Pyramid” is an experiment in mild droney dissonance and spooky lead guitar – not bad for a start. One of the few composed numbers, “Holler” features peculiar extra-bassy vocals over a misty potpourri of acoustic guitar, cricket chirping, and Peter Hollis’ organ. It’s October and Halloween is almost here… perfect timing! As you can probably tell, the whole album is moody and (presumably) introspective, and “Europa” is perhaps the best result of this approach. Subtle mallet percussion (by Wivinus no less) works beautifully behind the tapestry of warm echoey sounds… hard to distinguish the synthetic loops from the guitars sometimes. Later in the 20-minute piece, it turns slightly grey and even more soupy…a mind-numbing bliss out. Perhaps you won’t even notice the Little Drummer Boy making an appearance in the background. “Down in the Willow Garden” is a traditional folk ditty that Sean probably heard drifting across a plantation one day while time-travelling from his current Georgia home-away-from-home. The other VNC original composition is “The Welcoming River,” an acoustic piece but is rather unsettling in a very intriguing way – probably my favorite track on the album. On a par with Roger Waters’ better dark-toned works anyway. ‘Things’ wraps up with another lengthy echo-drone work “Flying Low over Green Hills” that builds towards a freak-out climax and then a gradual easing off. All in all, this album is a pretty nice collection of things to lighten your spirit even as it darkens the skies overhead.

Skye Klad’s newest single “Mind’s Eye” is an upbeat four minutes of sheer delight, almost a surf/ska rhythm but then topped with dizzying psychedelia from the dueling guitars of Wivinus and Jason Kesselring. Adam Backstrom (I assume) adds the breathy Damo-esque vocals and what you have is a fun-filled number that could probably fool lots of unsuspecting normal people into listening to psychedelic music. “Kindred Raga” is a reverberating rosin-wheel drone excursion just as the title suggests, complete with the obligatory chantlike vocalizations. This eight-minute piece would’ve worked nicely with either of the other two albums above. I don’t know how or when these tracks will appear on vinyl/CD, but I’m happy to see that the full contingent of Twin Cities spaceheads are hard at work in the studio.

For more information on Gentle Tasaday and Vortex Navigation Company you can visit the Camera Obscura web site.

Reviewed by Keith Henderson