Friday, August 26, 2005
So it's come to this....
Readers of this blog and the Lacunae blog may recall that back in the ancient 90's, following two fantastic full-lengths and assorted singles etcetera, underrated glam-folk-pop-shoegazers The Nightblooms ceased to exist. Some years later, singer Esther Sprikkelman and guitarist Harry Otten reappeared faintly on the radar screen as Safe Home. They released a self-titled CD EP, five limited-edition 7" singles, and a full-length CD (which, annoyingly, collected the EP and limited-edition 7" singles) on the semi-dormant Sunday Records label.
A new Safe Home website has since winked in and out of existence. The front page is here, but it doesn't currently lead to anything useful. Those of us who keep a close eye on such things, though, noticed a handful of realaudio tracks that were briefly linked some months ago (they're still sitting here, hidden behind some socks and underwear). I wrote to the group a while back, and was assured that a new album was forthcoming on a label called Now Here Records (no website that I can find). Since then, nothing, though a new mp3 called Nog Niet Voorbij appeared recently in the dresser drawer. My best guess (any Dutch speakers want to correct this?) is that it means "Not yet finished" which would almost seem like the band is sending out tiny messages in a bottle. We're still here.
Safe Home ditch the louder side of The Nightblooms, and concentrate on a pastoral hum, with tiny electronics popping out of the cracks of a well-worn acoustic. Which is often an electric guitar, actually, but that messes up my beautiful imagery, and it's a very subdued electric anyway. If you own either Nightblooms album, Safe Home sound like the final track. Esther's voice remains as lovely, breathy, and distinctive as ever, and the overall effect is of whistful nostalgia (like you get when you think about a band you used to love who live far away and can't seem to get their records released anymore).
I'm hoping that a 2nd Safe Home full length will emerge someday. Ok, I'm really hoping that they'll reunite The Nightblooms and put out a hyper-produced monster of a follow-up to 24 Days At Catastrofe Cafe, putting everything this side of Bohemian Rhapsody to shame. Unfortunately, at present I find it hard to believe that more than a handful of people are still paying any attention at all. Here's a quick Safe Home/Nightblooms sampler, including a few of the new unreleased tracks converted to mp3 from realaudio.
Birthday is a track I've posted before, from the You Can't Undo What's Already Undid CD. It's probably the closest Safe Home have come to The Nightblooms, though it's much softer than most Nightblooms tracks. If you imagine the production dialed up to 11, this could have fit onto 24 Days at Catastrofe Cafe.
They Say It seems to be the most fully realized of the new (unreleased) tracks.
Dear Dusty is also from You Can't Undo What's Already Undid and the Safe Home EP. The Nightblooms/Safe Home have never been coy about their CSN&Y side, and this is a pretty clear example. Is it me, or does the word "elegiac" spring to mind with regards to almost every aspect of this band?
Leda is also currently unreleased. Some of the best-conceived pop minimalism I've heard this side of Young Marble Giants.
For some historical perspective:
Never Dream At All from the early Nightblooms single Crystal Eyes. There's a song in there somewhere.
Never Dream At All from 24 Days At Catastrofe Cafe. Oh, here it is. We will rock you.
A Thousand Years from the Nightblooms' self-titled debut album. Early evidence that the group could do amazing things with extended song-structures. The track Shatterhand from 24 Days is kind of the tour de force of this side of the group, and one of my favorite songs period.
Since this is probably the last time I'll write about The Nightblooms, I'll once again note that there's a one-sided live album that Allmusic can't be bothered to mention. It documents the band much as they sounded during their one US tour (i.e. the noisy Nightblooms). Seek it along the winding paths of the internet. The fact that I saw the Nightblooms live (at Brownies, I was there to see someone else) is one of the greater strokes of luck in my concert-going career.