MP3 61 Cygni - Binaural Beatings
Ambient rock that ranges from gently pensive to a whirling hurricane.
10 MP3 Songs
Shake Subservient Shake Shake Noise
Binaural Beatings Songs
By SARA CRESS
Copyright 2003 Houston Chronicle
The star 61 Cygni burns within the constellation Cygnus. Though not seeable to the naked eye, it garners attention from astronomers due to its notable speed.
The Houston band 61 Cygni cloaks itself in this same brand of velocity. Its ambient rock can go from gently pensive to a whirling hurricane, much in the vein of Cocteau Twins or Siouxsie & the Banshees. Its collective onstage persona proves mysterious, serious and at times brusque.
Drummer Eric Jarvis and bassist Paul Adams orbit singer/guitarist Tessa, tempering her emotive voice with their own quirks. Adams, who is also a photographer, plays bass with a verve more often seen in lead guitarists.
"Eric calls me Metallicartney," Adams says with a laugh, "I get completely nutty. I don't know where it comes from; I just can't keep from moving."
Jarvis further explains, "It's just that he's got this flamboyant style, but he's playing these really melodic lines."
A technology consultant by day, Jarvis lends the band some gravity with his sarcastic sense of humor. Ask the band about musical influences and well-known greats fall from Tessa's and Adams' mouths, while Jarvis attests to an admiration for lesser talents.
"I'll kick it with Loverboy," he says. "I'm all over anyone who is gap-toothed, fat and wearing leather pants."
This sends the band into a fit of giggles.
Tessa and Adams have been collaborating musically since the early '90s. Their first band, Breth, attracted Jarvis. He later joined 61 Cygni, filling in where drum machines had been used in lieu of a live drummer. Growing up playing guitar and bass, he wasn't well versed in drums.
"They've been kind enough to let me learn on the job," he says.
Tessa's flexible voice exhibits every bit of the pain and anger that her lyrics suggest without subtlety. The songs are about "hatred, pain and revenge. It's pretty simple," she explains. "I look at it as therapy. Songwriting is the only means I have to talk to people in that way."
Thanks for Nothing, from the band's 2003 debut CD, Binaural Beatings, is full of the blame and guilt that accompanies a failed relationship: "I saw you standing there / Then I saw you leave / Do you know I hated you? / Do you know I lied to save myself?" On Lost, the speaker walks the line between love and hate with lines like "I can't stop my feelings for you / But I don't want to be in your life."
When Adams jokes that all the songs are about him, Tessa laughs and says, "No, they are not about Paul! If I were to write a song about Paul it would be good, because he's good."
Though the words are Tessa's, the finished songs are often the work of the entire band.
"We all contribute. I usually come up with a concept and everyone expands on it. Lyrics come later," Tessa says.
"The songs start off as a Pink Floyd / Spiritualized, 40 minute-long crazy jam. But we eventually get the point and learn to focus the song," Adams adds.
"I like the songs that we've written together," Jarvis says. "They're economical and structured. We discuss the crafting of the song, making sure nothing is unnecessary. We know that if a bigwig listens to a recording, they're only going to listen to 3 seconds and it had better stand out.
The band realizes that ambient rock is off people's radar for the moment, waiting to come back into favor.
"We're different from what people are listening to. There's a big indie rock thing in Houston right now, so it's been hard to gain a following," Tessa says. "We don't attract kids," she adds.
Though their music may not be Top 40 radio fodder, the band performs at least once a month at Rudyard's or The Proletariat, hoping for a modest amount of success.
"I just want us to have the money to put out what we do," Adams says. "If we can do that, we'll be fine."