avin Mueller and I, last summer, went to a concert where the main purpose of the evening was to see Cex perform his freestyle rapping and general tomfoolery in person. What we didn't know, before getting there, was the identity of the opening act. When the duo leapt up to the stage and crouched behind a single laptop Gavin and I looked over at each other and silently groaned to ourselves. As regular IDM concert goers, we had seen this before and we both decided to go to the back of the venue and find a comfortable seat. Over the course of the next half hour, though, Gavin and I frequently looked at each other in wonderment.
Instead of the usual clicks and cuts that sound amazing on record, but lack any sort of resonance live; the group proceeded to rock- using sampled guitars, bombastic drum loops, and a dense complexity that seemed to reach My Bloody Valentine proportions, at times. At the end of this opening act, Gavin and I rushed to the merchandise table looking to see if we could pick up the release- any release- of this band. Unfortunately, they had sold out long ago in the tour (this being their last stop)- but one could easily understand why.
And that's why Freedom Rock, the album that sold out, by the band we later found out was called Stars As Eyes, came as such a disappointment. The live show performance featured, more often than not, songs that had been composed since the release of the record.
Coming from the art-punk mecca of Providence, Rhode Island, Steve Ferrari and Craig Four Two had been producing tracks for three years, leading up to the release of their first full length. The combination of Providence and Tigerbeat6 seems like an easy combination. Tigerbeat6 is the home to such sonic terrorists as Blechdom from Blectum, Kid606, and Electric Company. The group, however, fits more easily into the category of Cex's more softer brand of IDM, a pleasantly melodic and accesible version of IDM that reminds one of the output of the German labels City Centre Office and Morr Music. And Krautrock, oddly, is one of the biggest influences on the act. Steve Ferrari, in an Oligarchist Home Journal interview, stated that his musical influences included, "Krautrock, Scott Walker, This Heat, and Spacemen 3. So far as "IDM" goes, I like Capitol K, Hrvatski, the TB6 stuff mostly. I don't listen to much IDM, though.
This is what becomes apparent on listening to Stars As Eyes' newest release, "Important Youth Movement". It's a 7", so it only contains two songs- but those two songs highlight the best portions of the Stars As Eyes sound- moving melodic motifs, an attention to rhythmic detail, and a sense of how to construct a proper song. Some of these features are exactly the opposite of what Tigerbeat6 seems to stand for, but the punk rock attitude of creating a kraut rock-IDM sound has Stars As Eyes charting their own course in the music world- which is, in fact, exactly what Tigerbeat6 stands for.
With only an album and a 7" to their credit, the Stars As Eyes boys seem to have a dearth of releases for the consumers enjoyment. Never fear, this October, or "Rocktober" as Steve Ferrari has dubbed it, the group will release its second album, Enemy of Fun. And let me let you in on a little secret. It's good. Really good.
Current members: Steve Ferrari, Craig Four Two.
Location: Austin, TX.
Labels Appeared On: Tigerbeat6.
Freedom Rock (2001, Tigerbeat6)
Important Youth Movement 7" (2002, Tigerbeat6)
Enemy of Fun (2002 (Forthcoming), Tigerbeat6)
Starting Point: Freedom Rock (2001)
Essential: Important Youth Movement 7" (2002)