by Jeff Milo
Tom sips his coffee, tall, black, no cream. It's mid October and he's already got his Halloween costume picked out: Prince. And he'll be attempting both "Kiss" and "Raspberry Beret" on stage at the Crofoot). I don't have my costume picked out yet but we're both musing on the ceremonial nostalgika of brisk/beatific/melancholic autumn aesthetics.
"The majority of this album's gonna be about selling your soul to Satan..." He sips. "That seems autumnal..." He shrugs. "Right?"
Tom Bahorski (known to some local indie-psyche-punk patrons as lead-shredder and singer for The Ashleys or as auxiliary-shredder/back-up-shouter for Pink Lightning) went and made an entire album's worth of songs in his one week of paid vacation.
9 Ways to Skin a Cat -or- How Satan's Sultry Savy Sold Me a Buick
"Some of it's about how Satan opened a car dealership, like, hocking used '92 Buicks..."
Thankfully, the cafe's wi-fi linked us up to Wikipedia in time for him to actually name these songs (initially charted as demos with titles for whatever "Day" they were made on...) and hence, following his Satanic schema, we found that Dante's Inferno had nine levels - so, yeah, he said, let's go with that!
Thus "Tuesday" became "Limbo..." A fired up Middle-Eastern tinged tumbler with double tracked mandolins and banjos blazing under syrup-fuzzed crooned psyche-babble and exploding-Jeep-engine guitar death-knells, whip-crackling into bracing banshee howls wound-up all wild at the crazed choruses.
Debuting in 2010 with what was basic garage-y gut-punch swagger in the Ashleys and then flourishing into the panache-punk dance-rock tilts of Pink Lightning, Bahorski, via Irrelephant, flares "more soundtrack-y" sensibilities - haunting melodies and eerie piano-tip-toeing's over ambient cello growls - minimalist strummy waltzes mashing gypsy into tin-pan alley - and spaced-out slammers rickety-rocked around with fervent riffs.
"It's my pet project," said Bahorski. "This is the stuff I like to make that doesn't lend itself to being performed. I'd love to get this band together but it'd take nine people and lots and lots of practice..."
Once song # 3 was wrapped on day # 3, that's when momentum and motivation struck. Nine days later, straight up from his basement in northwest Metro Detroit, he's got an album.
"I wanted to do trumpet on some songs but didn't feel like calling someone who could play trumpet well. So I decided I'd try it on kazoo... That made it really fuzzy and almost-like-a-trumpet. So it worked."
That must be a fine feeling of accomplishment, I tell Tom, finishing my espresso and bubbling up with self-doubt that I'll be able to finish that ostensibly great novel of mine in time for National Novel Writing Month in November.
"I know the album's about going to hell but I feel ...how God must have felt on the seventh day!"
".....I'm not saying I'm God or anything...don't print that."
More local sounds, sights and songs to dig:
The Beekeepers, obscuro-circus-punk peddlers, are performing for free (with a pair of experimental touring bands) in the Garden Bowl - likely influences upon Mr. Bahorski's works above, in terms of enthusiastically tweaking up the eclectic/eerie/atmospheric elements.
But then...two blocks over at the Old Miami:
"Party Like It's 1985" ~with Future Slang / Body Holographic / Hit Society / George Morris
Tying in with Mr. Bahorski's "nine-" songs is a new single from once-former-and-soon-to-be-again (for one night only) Satin Peach lead guitarist/singer George Morris - a sweet-drifty-dreary-dream-pop ditty flared with loopy synths and warm piano chimes.
Future Slang's lead singer Kyle McBee just started up a new label-cassette-club hybrid called Dead Letter Press - (ft. Factory Girls, Superbomb, Future Slang, Mike Anton, Ian Pinchback.
Archival Roster: Dead Letters, Black Lodge, The_Pages, Cocoon Life.) Local bands - take heed. This is just getting off the ground and they're hungry for demos to feature...
Like this one:
Then, on the subject of local labels - keep your ears open for more features from Checkers Record Collective - a collaboration with Duende is in the works and a debut album from burgeoning indie-folk-pop singer/songwriter Alan Sowkinski - as At Willoughby - will be out near Thanksgiving-time. Take a sample: