Monday, April 18, 2011

Revoir - 4-30 - Atlas - w/Phantasmagoria + Rough House

"Words can sometimes fail..."

For Jason Revoir it seems the ambition, the heart and particularly the voice, were always there... But it was a matter of finding that certain whimsical sonic spark that might illuminate some kind of epiphany of comprehension, or even merely an allure, in a substantial audience of listeners.

"I think I struck a nerve this time..."

The just-into-his-30's day-job dad has an interesting history that includes cutting his teeth via prog-metal in the late 90's (Arizing) after having been raised under a preacher in a house where secular pop-songs were sternly discouraged. Through the late aughts, Revoir dug a more electro-tinged indie-pop/rock groove (with Cougar the Tiger) while penning two solo album's worth of ambient folk ballads.

"I called one of my earlier albums Intangible," Revoir said, "because of all those times in life when you are trying to explain to someone how angry, sad, happy, ecstatic, are, about something, and end up feeling as though you haven't made them fully understand."

Whose to say we understand now? But I think we're, at the very least, listening... As Revoir, and his music, departed the heavy metal circles and started sounding something more akin to rock, pop, indie, folk...or seemed, heretofore, to hover, aloof, near the edges...Maybe it's simply symptomatic to facebook ameliorating the interconnectedness (or inter-connectivity) of a local music community, but for whatever reason, local music writers and fellow local musicians (like, say, similarly electro-set dabblers like Phantasmagoria or Rogue Satellites) have seemed to pick up on his current batch of buzzed and blipped, shimmering synth serenades....

It'd certainly be ludicrous to turn an elevated amount of blog buzz or facebook-likes into a news lead, but perhaps there's some worth to wondering whether or not Revoir's latest, This is the Album has the fateful, supernatural, or whimsical features to make it a breakthrough for listeners... even if it's really just the next step for an unassuming, passionate and contemplative songwriter.

"I wanna see where I can take it," Revoir said, "as far as--as many different styles."

This is the Album's style, predominantly, is darkly beautiful synth-pop, driven by an intricate cascade of danceable beats and adorned by Revoir's stirring, quavering, baritone croon... Chiming, symphonic synthesizers surge and soar, punchy beats percolate a steady shimmy under a voice that balances fragility with heart heavy fire - yes, somewhat close to the almost operatic belts of a Rolan Orzabal or a Dave Gahan, but yet, the aesthetic of This admittedly easily invites new-wave and dance-rock comparisons. Let's not forget he came from metal, and also proved himself via folk (and is even up for some experimental noise!)

Revoir plays, Saturday Apr 30th, at the Atlas Bar, synched up with Phantasmagoria and Rough House.

"Music is a more universal way of communicating," Revoir said. "I feel music connects people on a different level."

Revoir said he always liked that "feeling of community" one can find, particularly with live music that inspires either dancing or inherently invites compacted audiences (the latter including the mosh-days of metal, or event-like performers like Girl Talk or Lightning Bolt).

"Just being in the mix with other people." Which was hard to come by through the aughts, said Revoir, with Cougar the Tiger playing to the sometimes all too incorrigible shoegazing hip crowds, standing stoic, even if they are present and listening to a show.

In mid 2001, Revoir departed Arizing (just as they neared completion of an album) and started a solo project, embracing more of a folk tract. He put out a solo album in 2003 and would perform occasionally at Xhedos/(AJ's), but "nothing really happened."

Two formative songwriter-moments included 1) his discovery of Beck's Stereopathetic Soul Manure and One Foot in the Grave (- the uninhibited (veritable DIY-) aspects of both spurring him on to start recording his own stuff -) and 2) switching his major, while studying at Oakland, to music, in 2004 and joining a steelpan band, delving into the musical traditions and history of Trinidad and learning to appreciate, even more so, music as being a form of communication.

Revoir, it should be noted, is a fast learner. "I feel like I got a late start in a musical education." While some may take Nirvana for granted, as a cliched rite of passage, it was, for Revoir, exactly what it's played up to be, a shining light of sorts, to shake him into some new musical consciousness and show him the world outside that of his comparatively sheltered, and restrictive upbringing. "It was a shock. I used to hide my cassette tapes from my parents in my closet. My parents sat me down when I was 17 and said they didn't want me being in a band anymore. I argued with them. I'm not rebellious; I wasn't trying to be. I'm pretty obedient."

It's just that Revoir "fell in love with music and had to defend it."

(He's subtly rebellious. His dog's name is Sagan, to honor Carl, the man behind the Cosmos documentaries who himself was viewed by some as anti-religion and Revoir's often read works from the famous/infamous atheist Richard Dawkins...He also lists Joseph Campbell and Bill Bryson as non-musical influences)

"My interest in writers and thinkers informs my music, but itsn't a direct result of being a musician." Revoir said the Bible taught only one side of humanity's story, where as the writers/scientists/philosophers noted above helped him go deeper into the story. "I like anything that makes me feel connected to the past, present and future of that story; music does that for me."

And so, after Nirvana Revoir found Tool, being particularly moved by songs like "Third Eye" and its forceful documentation of a galvanized awakening. After Tool, it was on to Dylan and, Neil Young (the latter of which has served as an inspiration of late to always keep trying different things with music). ""Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere" is near perfection. The White Album is (also) perfection. Anything that I can get lost in or emotional about..."

And emotion plays into it, for Revoir, as any listener can discern the voice crackled/tear-jerked/goosebump vibe of some of the more evocative crescendos and pained choruses from This is the Album. "Songs that make me cry really strike me, and make me realize how temporal things are. 'So Long' is about that. Eventually no one will remember any of it, so I think that drives me somehow, but also gives it some perspective. It makes music seem more truly in the moment."

The Moment...for Revoir, is This is the Album.

"I never made a totally electronic album. Crystal Castles' new album made me want to. Some people had bad reactions...but, it's synth-pop, it's like it or don't eat it. I just hope people enjoy it."

Album was enhanced by his collaboration with John Dion (also of Cougar the Tiger) who brought a keen sense for recording and layered electronic accouterments. "John brought the recording quality up and added a lot of interesting layers to the live show. He added a lot of guitar sounds and played that Korg-Micro, and added some vocoder stuff." Dion performed with Revoir at his "first" show, at the Belmont in March. (First show in this incarnation, anyhow...)

Album was then mixed by Jon Weier at BGC Studios.

Revoir quoted Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, that "half of the listening experience is the creator and half is the audience. I agree. It's up to an audience to draw what they will from the music. I hope my music hits people in the gut and brings them out of time for a moment."

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