For fourteen years, indie rock singer-songwriter Jason Martin
from Riverside, California has been releasing albums under the
band name of Starflyer 59. He has been the one constant
factor of Starflyer 59's space rock atmospheres and shoegaze style,
with other musicians in the band fluctuating on each album. On
his tenth studio album My Island, Martin experiments with
influences of ambient-pop, '50s hard-bop, and echoey nu wave textures.
Starflyer 59 is a part of the nu-gaze domain, recalling the synth-pop
fuzz and reverberating guitar effects of My Bloody Valentine,
Golden Earring, and Pink Floyd. Martin's shoegazy,
space rock tones share the roost with electro-pop and ambient-pop
Neo-classical synth-guitar shreds and dark mysterious vocals
are tenets of Starflyer 59's music, a style which is attached
to artists like The Cure, The Jesus And Mary Chain,
Dinosaur Jr., Lush, and Ride, to name a few.
Though Starflyer 59 has not reached the commercial success of
its predecessors, its music is equally on par with them. Martin's
vocals vacillate between a dark, melancholic timbre like Leonard
Cohen to a dusky, haunting resonance synonymous with Jeff
Buckley. The heavily distorted oblique guitar tones moving
through the fluffy synths, heavy bass swaggers, and repetitive
drum lashing create muddy hazes throughout the album. Melodies
are surfeit with sonic fuzz and guitar riffs swirl and reverberate
but also craft bright jangling sounds like in the tracks "The
Frontman" and "Ideas For The Talented."
Shoegazers got their name because of their guitarists obsession
with working with the pedal effects on the floorboard at their
feet, like The Edge from U2 is known for doing.
The sonic feedback and build up of static produced from overdubbing
sequences and sampling makes a wall of sound which Starflyer 59
generates throughout the melodies. The muddled fuzz accumulated
by piling up the layers floods the music with indistinct lines
and makes a lot of sonic fluff. A slow funky bass groove underscores
the fuzz and static and a deep country flange layered inside the
melody gives the songs an inner substance. The '50s hard-bop rhythm
on "Pearl Of Great Price" gives the album a tinge of
retro-rock through the space rock passages. Guitar phrases beat
briskly on tracks like "It's Alright Blondie" and "Mic
The Mic" cultivating nu wave textures familiar to Monsters
Are Waiting and The Secret Handshake's music. The song
"Division" meshes a repetitive guitar lick that reflects
the high pitched iridescent tones of a recorder with ambient-pop
fillings, while the licks on "I Win" have a dark ridged
twang along heavy bass grooves. The synth-pop layers on "Nice
Guy" amass rotund hazes undercoated by heavy bass grooves
and flapping drum strikes.
Though many shoegazers have found a steady following, such a
reaction has slipped through Starflyer 59's fingers. My Island
has the musical chops of The Cure, the iridescent tones and enameled
hazes synonymous with The Cocteau Twins, and the expansive
static fuzz of Spiritualized, honing music fashioned with
melodic clasps and space rock passages. Jason Martin and company
may not have the following of The Cure, but band members show
that nu gaze is very much a relevant music faction which they
wish to shape to reflect present day.
1. The Frontman
3. Pearl Of Great Price
4. My Island
5. It's Alright Blondie
6. Mic The Mic
8. I Win
9. Nice Guy
10. Ideas For The Talented
e-mail the chief
Like this article?
it to a friend!