Sunday, March 20, 2011

New Cross 1986 (US)

Another remarkable 'lost' masterpiece from the US -- it seems that despite what was going on in popular music at the time, there was still a huge amount of inventiveness in songwriting in the mid-eighties. As I've said so many times before, I wish I had known about progressive rock and jazz at the time I would have jumped on it like Berlusconi on a ... better not say.
This album has features of Ixt Aduxt, Babylon, King Crimson, Moira, with a lot of highly interesting guitar arpeggios and rips, strange chord changes, and the typical american gruff singing style -- not overstylized as in neoprog, just a little bit 'progressive', maybe think mirthrandir style. I can't understand what these guys were thinking at the time -- 1986 -- but like true artists, they cared only about their craft and skills and not about popularity, clearly.

I love the meandering arpeggios in the first song "Currents" where the singing kind of comes in and out without real straightforward chorus or even focus. The second song "Fall of reason" builds up a beautiful tension, then the singer starts almost talking over some metal-style chromatic riff. I'm not sure if these guys were influenced more by punk-style rio or the older progressive tradition or what, but it's a bizarre but beautiful concoction. Suddenly some chiming that sounds like keyboard vibes appears, in the middle the song has a gorgeous energy, it reminds me a lot of alternative metal. I'm sure the lyrics are worth listening closely to and understanding but I've never had the patience to do it, maybe someday we should transcribe them (as we did in high school) and see if it makes up a poem.

"...they are conscious of nothing at all..." (tracks 3 and 4) has that typical thin slicing guitar sound of the eighties but the chords are just out of this world, surely no one else in the whole of the eighties came up with a chord succession like this one, unless maybe in progressive quarters of Germany or France. It bridges passages together in gorgeous electric harmonics-- unbelievable thought put into this song.

Track 5, "Wreckage of Consensus" starts as a song sung with electric guitar accompaniment, this reminds me a lot of dzyan 1 or moira perhaps. Suddenly drums appear and the song closes out in some amazing, absolutely brilliant progressive harmonies with organ and dramatic tension building and building like a movie, including some chromatic metal riffs and chord dissonances (like clusters)...

How come these guys didn't make more music? Truly a tragedy of massive proportions, from the hindsight of fans looking back on it all today. Had they been in the mid-70s for example, wouldn't they have made more of an impact and output?

Fall of reason
"...they are conscious of nothing at all..."
Wreckage of a consensus
Middle dream

Mike Ezzo - Percu
Steven Cade - Guitar, Keys, Vocals
Rick Ezzo - Bass

Eagle Rock, CA, USA, 1986

Wreckage of a Consensus...


Tristan Stefan said...

Sadness said...

well i hope you enjoyed it all who could download it..
if someone can link it to say fileserve or hotfile..would be much appreciated..

apps79 said...

wow!!!so many thanks!!!

isabelbc said...

hi Sadness,
i don't know if i understand your comment but fileserve is on flameupload...
Isabel :o)

Srikanth said...

Man I just started following your blog a couple of days ago. Thank you! I'm really enjoying your picks.

Anonymous said...

Mike Ezzo was also in the excellent Rain of Thought, who put out one album in 2000. I think all of you would enjoy that one as well.

Tristan Stefan said...

thanks srikanth, there's a lot of material to go through in the last 5 years!

Anonymous said...

Quick question: the file has 6 tracks, but the track list only has five. Is there a name for the 6th track?

Tristan Stefan said...

in the write up I mentioned that the song 'they are conscious...' has been split into two, tracks 3 and 4; in other words the last song is middle dream

Mike Scholtz said...

I can add a little bit of information about this group. Steve Cade was a classical guitarist in the highly-regarded program at USC's School of Music, studying with Jim Smith and Pepe Romero. His fellow students at the time included Scott Tenant, Bill Kanengiser, John Dearman and Andrew York (before formation of the grammy-winning LAGQ),composer Brian Head, and lutenist Claire Delerue (daughter of film composer Georges Delerue). Steve's work with Newcross ran parallel to his classical studies at USC, and his solo and ensemble work with the other students. During the 1980s he performed with Paul Rosandich as the Avalon Guitar Duo, which focussed on works by 20th century composers.

Steve's admiration for King Crimson, Genesis and Ant Phillips really comes through on the album; perhaps a bit less so his respect for Alan Holdsworth and Andy Summers. His playing on the record strikes me now as a bit restrained; although he had a self-deprecating personality and would have been loathe to admit it, he could really rip when the group played live.

Mike Ezzo was an amazing talent. If memory serves, he studied composition, percussion and gamelan at CalArts. He also played in a number of James Grigsby's projects, including Motor Totemist Guild and U-Totem.

I know that Newcross was active from around 1982 to at least 1986 or so in the Los Angeles area. The group performed regularly at California Outside Music Association (COMA) events, including a daylong festival in Long Beach. I remember shows at Madame Wong's, the Troubadour, the Glass House in Pomona, and other spots around town, but I don't believe the group ever toured. Steve did tour Europe with the Avalon Duo in 1990, which was the last time I saw him. (If you're out there, Steve, look me up!).

At various points Newcross featured a female vocalist, a cellist, and a flautist. There was quite a bit of material that was written over the course of the group's existence, but I don't know if it was recorded. Rehearsal recordings might still.

There are two versions of the album. The band was unhappy with the first test pressings, and the release was delayed for some months while they went back to the studio and partially re-recorded and remixed it, before it was issued in the version here. A few copies of the test pressing were circulated, in printed covers. Now *there* is an obscure rarity for you.

Why wasn't this band more successful? Of course, they were utterly out of step with the times in 1980s Los Angeles, when new wave and hair metal ruled the big clubs and post-punk and goth ruled the underground. The delays in getting recorded material out hurt as well; and the album was released just as the LP era reached its first end. I believe only Wayside and Eurock distributed it. But I think ultimately it comes down to the fact that for all their talent, these guys were enitrely intent on creating their unconventional music, with no real desire for mass-market success, nor aptitude for self-promotion. At least they left us this little taste of their work.

(Please chalk up any inaccuracies in the above account to my lousy memory.)

Mike Scholtz / Seagrass Recordings

JD said...

Would you please consider uploading this super rarity in a lossless format?

Werner said...

I'm late...
Can u repost this?

isabelbc said...

new link

Anonymous said...

I think Mikes account is pretty accurate. I was the last "New Member" of Newcross in 1987. I'm a bassist and I was in the band for about 6 months and then the band broke up. I think Mike Ezzo moved to Japan to further his studies and Steven was working @ LAX and still going to USC, working on a masters? Last time I spoke to him, he was playing bass mostly and still living in L.A, the west side. I LOVED this band and it was a privilege to be invited to play with them, Newcross changed my whole world and Ive never been the same!! We recorded every rehearsal and we had become a 100% improvisational band, never playing the same thing twice. Absolutely breathtaking! I've NEVER been able to reach that natural "High" since. Wish Steve would mix some of that old material. We were trying to record the followup, but we never finished it. I do have two copies of the album plus, one unopened copy of the original first pressing! Priceless to me!

Anonymous said...

"self-deprecating"...and possibly elusive. The only message to listeners on the whole net from the band can be found with their Rain of Thought album on Amazon !! If they care about their studio albums, it makes sense they plan remasterings and sort of update the whole stuff esp with full blown bass + drum sounds + less cheap sounding synth lines on their RoT. The great compos deserve this.

Nevermind !?


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