©2011 Curlock and Jalaiso Music, BMI

something out of nothing

 

where did it start: like gods in the darkness
speaking the words that set each other alight?
or there in the rush from the leap to the landing
as the choices we made turned into our life?

where in the notes of that first early song
did the hint of the notion start to play in your mind?
at the threshold between at rest and in motion
i became yours and you become mine

where in the strike of the match on the matchbook
do the force and the friction give way to the fire?
and the kids in the yard wearing their dad’s face and mother’s eyes
when do they spring from our plans to our side?

all those magicians, they pull the dove from their sleeve
you and i pay down the mortgage and try to believe

in something out of nothing
something out of nothing
making something out of nothing

 

 

 

along the curve

 

don’t even breathe
the slightest change
might scatter all the
pieces like leaves
and a perfect dream
dissolve in waking

too dark to see
so we’re driving by the
shine of the low-beams and the
brake lights that weave
in a preview of the
turns that lie ahead

traveling at this speed
our love seems a fragile, ghostly thing
to depend on so completely
when the headlights won’t reveal
where we’re going
just the next few feet

don’t get me started
trying to reason out
all life’s little mysteries
for now it’s enough to
see the obvious
and steer along the curve

because I know you know it’s me
even in your sleep
when you smile but don’t wake up
as I kiss your cheek

in a dead calm

in a dead calm I’m waiting
for the first breath of air
on the surface I’m floating
in a dead calm

in a deep snow I’m sleeping
I'm not cold, not scared
I lay down and you covered me
in a deep snow

falling
like slow friction
winds down a spinning coin
if it’s still love
it’s not one I know

falling
like slow friction
winds down
a spinning coin
if you ask me
I could almost let go

lately

lately in these too-cloudy, too-bright days
my love for you plays keep-away
sits in a treetop from morning til noon
and mocks me like a high, un-catchable tune

lately in these endless brief afternoons
a chimney’s thin, smoky curlicue
is my love scribbling a poisonous hint and
a question I don’t have the answer to

why are you holding on
is it duty or guilt
or some old attraction
that lingers on

lately in the chill of the sweltering dawn
freedom drones her siren song, asking
“wouldn’t you like?” and “don’t you deserve?”
and “should I pull the car around to the curb?”

why are you holding on
is it duty or guilt
or some old attraction
that lingers on

why are you holding on
why are you holding on

right around the corner

oh my children
my holy promises and my love at first sight
this world we’re born to
is razor sharp and 3 thirds alive

with ripe, luminous beauty
more than you’ll know in your whole lives
but the wolves are howling
and though I don’t know what tomorrow looks like

it’s right around the corner
right around the bend
right around the corner
right around the bend

oh my brother tells me
the end of this desert is almost in sight
but when I see the look in his eyes
I’m truly scared for the first time

oh my love
when you lie awake in our bed at night
is you mind racing with questions
or can you hardly wait to greet the early light

right around the corner
right around the bend
right around the corner
right around the bend

©2011 Curlock and Jalaiso Music, BMI

 

 

track listing:

something (else) out of nothing
along the curve
in a dead calm
lately
right around the corner

Released 2011. Produced by Jean-Paul Vest and Jim Watts. These songs were written and recorded in my home on Long Island, and then sent to Jim in Los Angeles for mixing at Moxymusic. Jim added percussion on tracks 2, 3, & 4 and guitar, omnichord and harmony vocals on track 3. Chris Marshak‘s drums on track 5 were recorded at the Drumshak. Pam Aronoff added lovely harmonies and backing vocals at Moxy. For track 3, we recorded Jon Preddice’s trumpet parts in my basement, so we wouldn’t wake the kids. Tony Ingrisano very graciously let me use his artwork for the cover. Special thanks to Aaron Palmadessa for helping me work out the arrangement for Right Around the Corner.

 

 

 

Long Island Pulse Magazine, Last Charge of the Light Horse Breaks Through
Jean-Paul Vest takes his artistry to another level, and takes us along for the ride.
Author: Drew Moss | Published: Monday, May 21, 2012

Last Charge of the Light Horse Breaks Through

If you can hear around the bend—the steady hum of a man and a band on a collision course with excellence—you’re not imagining things. Last Charge of the Light Horse is breaking through.

Somewhere between Sergio Leone and Neil Young’s Crazy Horse, between the dirt roads of Calexico and dark corners of Edgar Allen Poe, lies Coram’s Jean-Paul Vest, the driving force behind the Last Charge of the Light Horse’s sound; a tapestry of warm rhythms and jangling guitars rich with reverb shimmering on the edges. The melodies are pure steady motion—each hook its own worn, weathered red ‘57 Cadillac streaking toward the night on a one lane strip of lonely blacktop across the farthest corners of the mind.

Vest is not only a crafty guitar player with a little bit of Ronnie Wood posturing and a cool cross-picking touch, he’s also a poet’s poet, a weaver of slightly fuzzy, sepia-toned tales that shift easily between forlorn existentialism and front porch folk. Last Charge of the Light Horse reveals itself as something perfectly American in its paradoxical dance of hope and despair. Vest comes to us as a roving gypsy in a homespun world, a one man caravan wrapped in an earthen tapestry of dusty browns and rusted reds that speaks to the wanderer in all of us.

“My mother is French and my father is a blues musician from Alabama,” explains Vest, connecting the creative dots of his past. “They passed along their love of music and literature to my brothers and me. Though we were born and raised in the United States, we grew up fully immersed in French culture as well. Later on, when I was a teenager, we lived for a year in Romania and did some traveling in Europe. The perspective of experiencing a foreign culture as an outsider and then returning home and seeing my own culture through different eyes has stayed with me.”

Vest co-creates his magic with a tight-knit rotating cast of supporting players whose musicianship is rivaled only by their friendship.

“I have a fantastic group of musicians that help me bring the songs to life,” said Vest. “Shawn Murray is an excellent drummer. He and bass player Pemberton Roach play off each other’s ideas in a way that never ceases to amaze me. Pemberton is an excellent songwriter with a sharp sense of humor. Bob Stander can just flat out play guitar. His playing adds so much depth to the sound. I love that they’re all so well versed in music I’ve never heard of. If blasting (Norwegian jazz guitarist) Terje Rypdal for two hours in the car on the way to a festival gig in Delaware doesn’t open your mind to a few possibilities, nothing will.”

Together, this local “band of gypsies” captures all of the burned up, blissed out passion and pathos of the American haze, where being lost is ok and getting lost is even better. The signposts of workingman’s Taoism that dot Vest’s landscapes are solemn but significant, pointing deftly to winding turns of fate and happenstance, endless stretches of kind confusion and the little pot of gold at the end.

All troubadours are restless at the core and Vest is no different. He can sense his own clock ticking and he knows when to shift gears. For Last Charge of the Light Horse, that time is now. For all the band’s evolution to this point, it’s clear that with their new EP, Curve (2011), Vest and Co. have turned the screw.

Curve takes the signature highway sound of Vest’s earlier work and makes a soft left turn as it runs through an experimental Radiohead-like filter. Avant-shoegazing shards of Stereolab, Kraftwerk, Her Space Holiday and Aspera Ad Astra can also be heard as Vest moves his voice around within his range, experiments with his mixes, integrates new instruments, invites the rhythm section to take some cool chances and tinkers with his overall milieu. This bevy of new sounds, textures and approaches has manifested in a new collection of tunes that are by turns sparse, dramatic and inventive—all while retaining Vest’s grounded, earthy sensibility.

“The process for Curve was a new one for me,” explains Vest. “I took a very deliberately low-tech approach, using whatever equipment was at hand and not fussing too much with the technical aspects of recording. Just turn on an amp, stick a microphone in front of it and go.”

This simplicity and spontaneity is serving Last Charge of the Light Horse well. Steadily, over the last few years, Vest and Co. have been making a national name for themselves on college radio while keeping things simple and close to home.

“I’ve been blessed that the music has been greeted with some very positive reviews, and pleasantly surprised with the reception on college radio,” Vest said. “Fractures (2008) actually charted at number one on a few stations. I’ve always considered my music sort of an acquired taste, but in the right venues the response has been great. That’s the real byproduct of any success, the thrill of having connected with an audience. It gives me the energy to keep writing and playing.”

For the moment, that seems to be more than enough for Vest. After all of his travels, all of his creative exploration and all the music still to come, having his roots at home here on Long Island is the most important thing.

“My primary interest in making music is to make it,” said Vest. “I love the moment of creation, when a more or less random collection of words and notes becomes a song, or when a group of people stand in a room making sounds and music happens. With any luck, a few good songs will come my way and someone will want to hear them."

WUSO.org, Andrew says: “An interesting and very well done mix of low-key dark rock and traditional indie-pop song structure. Very melodic with some great songwriting.” Mix with: Movies with Heros, Dreamers of the Ghetto

Leicester Bangs, Rob F. – Last Charge Of The Light Horse originally came together in 2004. In the seven years that have followed, nearly a dozen musicians have been involved with the project, with only songwriter Jean-Paul Vest a constant. The latest release, the five song “Curve” EP provides an excellent introduction to the sort of things they’ve been up to over the years. Vest is an impressive lyricist, presenting stark imagery and some emotional depth, and the band employs plenty of variety within an ambitious indie pop framework.

With over 20 minutes of music, “Curve” feels like a substantial release, and importantly for an EP, there’s no filler material. Beginning with “Something (Else) Out of Nothing”, with its jerked percussion and sustained notes, it’s both angular and haunting. It’s followed by “Along the Curve”, a fantastic pop song with all the charm and substance of the best of ‘80s guitar pop, but with a striking progressive bent. “Lately” begins with crooked beats and a desolate piano, but neither hinders its transformation into a dark, elaborate tour-de-force. Final cut, “Right Around the Corner” is elegiac and plaintive, but ultimately hopeful - a fitting end to a fine collection.

The Daily Vault, Jason Warburg – It’s always a challenge for the listener when an artist you genuinely admire tries something different. In the abstract, you absolutely want to hear them grow and change and push the envelope; that’s what art is supposed to do. When the changes are significant enough to fundamentally alter the vibe of the music, though, things can get a little dicey. Will the audience come along for the ride, or be left behind?

Jean-Paul Vest, a.k.a. Last Charge Of The Light Horse, created two of my favorite independent albums of the past decade, 2005’s Getaway Car and 2008’s Fractures. On both, Vest’s sound was rootsy Americana, intense yet organic vocals and electric guitars over muscular bass and drums. These albums are fresh and raw both lyrically and musically, brooding and uncluttered triumphs.

 

After a couple of listens to baseball fan Vest’s new five-song EP, I can’t imagine a more appropriate title for it than Curve. For this EP, largely created in Vest’s New York bedroom before being shipped to Los Angeles for embellishment by co-producer/mixer Jim Watts, feels like one big 12-6 curveball.

The feeling is there immediately, as Vest leads off with a thoroughly reimagined new version of a song from Fractures, the subtlely retitled “Something (Else) Out of Nothing.” Featuring the same lyric and core melody as its predecessor, this version nonetheless inhabits a completely transformed arrangement rife with loops and synths, with Vest’s previously jangly guitar isolated to keening, shifting single notes and feedback. Is this what Neil Young might sound like if he was produced by Thom Yorke?

“Along The Curve” features the precisely strummed, surging guitar that’s been more typical of Last Charge’s oeuvre, but the drums often skitter, the vocals have a rather languid and dreamy feel, and there’s a synth figure lurking in the middle of the mix that adds an otherworldly texture. Lyrically, “Along The Curve” cements the theme for this EP with these haunting lines: “Traveling at this speed / Our love seems a ghostly, fragile thing / To depend on so completely / When the headlights won’t reveal where we’re going / Just the next few feet.” Because you know what the opposite of love is, don’t you? It’s fear. And doubt. And insecurity.

“In a Dead Calm” gets even spookier, an ominous rhythm pattern and eerie piano figure dominating the verses before the song blossoms on the choruses with lush background vocals and Hammond organ amplifying its dreamy quality. “Falling, like slow friction winds down a spinning coin / If it’s still love, it’s not one I know / Falling, like slow friction winds down a spinning coin / If you ask me, I could almost let go.” The death of a relationship, or just plain death? Either way: brr.

“Lately” launches with electronic rhythm section and piano, powering ahead in the choruses with heavy acoustic rhythm guitar. The lyric is among Vest’s finest and most direct, explicitly about the fraying of a relationship to the brink of dissolution; it starts with “Lately in these too-cloudy, too-bright days / My love for you plays keep-away / Sits in a treetop from morning til noon / And mocks me like a high, uncatchable tune” —and only gets more dire from there. I only wish the captivating intimacy of the lyric was matched by the digitized rhythm section, which feels distant and disconnected.

“Right Around The Corner” closes things out riding a foundation of rather tribal-sounding acoustic drums under a steady, thrumming guitar riff and Vest’s urgent vocal. Dense percussion adds textures that remind me a little of Paul Simon’s Graceland-era world music explorations. Lyrically, “Corner” alternates glowing affirmations for the next generation with sheer terror at the lack of control the adults in the household are experiencing in their own lives, carrying home beautifully the theme running through this whole EP of trying (and failing) to anticipate the future from an anxiety-inducing station in life.

Given that theme, I can’t help but wonder if part of Vest’s game here in changing up his musical approach involves a conscious effort to further unsettle his listeners. The end result of melding his intense, poetic lyrics about the rich and dangerous undercurrents of everyday suburban life with a rather eerie, electronic rhythm section is a sound I can only describe as American gothic.

The issue for me personally comes in my perception that the groundedness and at times hyper-realism of Vest’s narratives is what makes his songs so special. The artificiality of the loops and synths featured here feels like it’s fighting against the very essence of these songs.

That said, Curve extends Vest’s streak of lyrical excellence, a series of intense narratives brimming with nuggets of sometimes-brutal, sometimes-beautiful truth, the fiercely honest soundtrack to a suburban mid-life crisis. Whatever you make of the music, there can be no doubt about the words; they are simply exceptional.

Rating: B+