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Published on August 5th, 2013

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New wave music quickly dated itself with its reliance on cold electronics that left human nuance and warmth to wither at the curb. It is therefore no small miracle that a musician like Wesley Eisold can come around and find a way to breathe new life into such a long tired form of music. The magic of his project Cold Cave lies in the dissonant elements that sound so cryptic it feels difficult to pinpoint exactly what instrument Eisold has employed to create the sound. Still, melody, danceable rhythm and true hooks are all discernible in the music of Cold Cave.

When asked about the distortion and static that defines the edges of much of the music on Cold Cave’s brilliant self-released debut Love Comes Close in 2009, he alludes to his years as lead vocalist in the hardcore bands Give Up the Ghost and Some Girls. “I just feel or notice distortion in every aspect of life,” he notes writing via email. “Growing up in punk and hardcore has also adjusted my tastes at times to be a bit dirtier.”

However, his latest album, Cherish the Light Years, released in 2011 by Matador Records, shines with the luster more familiar to the original new wave sound. “These days I’m more interested in performing and writing purely electronic because when I play it that way I can play it all myself,” Eisold explains.

When Eisold turned from hardcore to new wave, he notes it was never a conscious decision, and felt as surprised as anyone else with the sound he discovered when he started experimenting with instruments. To be fair, limiting Cold Cave’s sound to vintage new wave stands as a disservice, as the music is possessed with aggressive elements, despite high-pitched sqronk and bleeps. Though a range of sub-genres have emerged from new wave, like EDM, synth-pop, dream pop and dark wave, Cold Cave touches on all these stylings while staying true to the music’s roots, as revealed when Eisold mentions his influences and his preferred instrumentation.

Reacting to comparisons to such pioneers of late ‘70s synth music like DAF and Fad Gadget, Eisold responds, “The early Mute releases. Cabaret Voltaire, NON, the Normal, really influential. When I started making music as Cold Cave I had no idea what I was doing in terms of instrumentation and I didn’t care. The equipment and process was so foreign to me that it was pure freedom. I love the freedom I hear in those early records. I go through periods of wanting to make a perfect pop song. The times I feel I succeed still have an air of carelessness and freedom. The times I fail feel sterile and are devoid of that naivety. Everything has influences, but if you are an individual you will add your own personality to it.”

He reveals his preferred instruments are vintage and date back to the pioneering days of the new wave acts who first defined this music in the late 1970s. “I have two synths that make me happy,” he notes, “a Korg MS20 and an Arp Solina. But I’m happy to make a song with whatever equipment I’m around.”

When he brings Cold Cave live to headline Respectable Street’s special 26th anniversary concert in West Palm Beach, Amy Lee will accompany him on additional keyboards and vocals. “We just got back from a tour of Japan, Korea, China, Thailand, and Nepal,” Eisold states, adding, “On our last US tour we played as a three-piece with Boyd Rice [of NON] collaborating live.”

Cold Cave makes a fitting headline act for the dance club/live music bar’s annual block party, as the venue has outlived so many others in South Florida. It opened its doors as new wave began petering out of relevance and made way for grunge. The show will also feature such notable local acts as the Jacuzzi Boys and the Band in Heaven plus 23 others on four stages.

Cold Cave appears with 25 other bands at Respectable Street’s 26th Anniversary Block Party Saturday, August 24, 518 Clematis St., West Palm Beach, Florida 33401. Shows start at 8 p.m. Free entry and free pizza.

~ Hans Morgenstern | Independent Ethos
Design by Dave Berns | Hot Damn Arts

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