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Destined: Cold Cave

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Dusted’s Michael Crumsho profiles Philadelphia synth artist and Destined selection Cold Cave.

Destined: Cold Cave

  • Download “The Trees Grew Emotions and Died” by Cold Cave

    Usually when we speak of a break from “dependence” as far as musicians are concerned, it brings to mind some seriously bad juju – the image of people trying to wean themselves from all careless excess in their lives. For Wes Eisold, the man behind the synth-driven electronic pop/noise project Cold Cave, his latest musical outlet was borne out of a similar desire for freedom. In his case, however, the crutches came from those around him, the collaborators he spent years making music with as the singer for hardcore bands like Give up the Ghost (nee American Nightmare) and Some Girls.

    Not that he would put it so dramatically, offering instead: “Two years ago, I was fed up enough with my own dependency on others, really. I had been picking up thrift store synths and borrowing pedals and trying to figure a way out of a twenty-some year old grudge I held against myself for not physically being able to play guitar - something I always wanted to do and considered necessary to write music I wanted to hear.” And so, armed with a fresh batch of gear, Eisold set about learning to write and record with his new instruments, ultimately crafting the dense synth textures and heavy beats that would eventually define his work as Cold Cave.

    His work thus far has yielded a pair of 12” (including the exquisite The Trees Grew Emotions and Died on Dais), and the slightly more abrasive (but still beat-driven) Painted Nails 7” on Dominick Fernow’s Hospital imprint. What becomes increasingly clear through each of these sides is how much of a break Eisold has made from any of his own music that came before. “It just happened that way and I think the instruments had a lot to do with it,” he concedes simply. Still, “I don’t look back too much,” he acknowledges. “There are some records I’m happy I was a part of and some I don’t care for so much, but I think I knew that at the time, too.”

    Even still, the almost borderline-EBM sounds of Cold Cave are as much a reflection of Eisold’s newfound, unfettered freedom of expression as they are just the response of few conditioned keyboards. The project represents a chance to look both backward and forward, although without any ham-fisted attempts to recapture past glory days or buy too much into oncoming trends. Says Eisold: “I’ve just been into whatever sounded right to me at the time. I went to see Steppenwolf when I was 11 and the Swirlies when I was 12. I lovingly feel like the product of 120 Minutes and fondly reminisce to setting the alarm and sneaking to record the show past my bedtime. I was young in the ‘80s and early ‘90s and I miss the older girls of the malls who turned me on to Samhain and the Smiths, OMD and the Jesus and Mary Chain, and I want Cold Cave to sound like neither but feel like everything I loved from past to present.”

    For Eisold, too, that type of expression doesn’t end at Cold Cave. Ever a polymath, he also spends his time curating both Heartworm Press, a publishing imprint that’s he used to distribute both his work and that of his friends, and Juanita & Juan’s, a small, carefully stocked mixed media shop that also doubles as a space for readings. Heartworm has books from Genesis P-Orridge, Chris Leo and Boyd Rice along with LPs from T.A.S.K. and Floating Di Morel on the way; as for J&J’s, however, Eisold admits that “we want to have it for a year, just to have it exist once, and I don’t know if we’ll continue after that.”

    Given the relentlessly unfriendly climate for retail these days, that’s not an entirely surprising thing to hear. Sad all the same, though, as shops like Juanita and Juan’s are an increasing rarity, the type of place where books of Actionist writings sit next to copies of Rock and the Pop Narcotic, all across from out-of-print Richard Brautigan collections and first editions of Dennis Cooper novels. More than just a marketplace, it’s the type of spot that gives even more insight into the mix of ideas that Cold Cave puts forth. “Life hasn’t disappointed in the paths I feel fortunate to have crossed, and I like to celebrate them in these little ways, a little cherish in context with the other loves and then you really have a new world worth living in,” he offers. “Life can be so bland and such a downer that the only way to really deal with it is to surround yourself with people and records and books and films you feel at home with, and you never know if or when a new one will arrive, but it’s worth it when it does.”

    As for the rest of 2009, Cold Cave has a pair of singles on the way (one each on What’s Your Rupture? and Troubleman), and is currently at work on a record with Prurient called Jouissance that will be out on Hospital. A full-length is due to follow later on in the year. Outside of a live set or the final day of this year’s No Fun Festival, there hasn’t been much movement in the way of performances scheduled, although Eisold wouldn’t mind adding more. “Cold Cave feels like freedom to me, finally, unaffected, indifferent, in love,” he says simply. “And I feel fine to share that.”

    By Michael Crumsho

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