A WARNING: This is a press release, and press releases are supposed to be wholly positive. That’s the shared expectation, both from the writer and the reader. Typically, press releases hide a band’s true reality. But not this one. We need to be straight with you. It’s hard to predict what will happen to Delicate Steve. Emotions run high in this band, and most of these songs are both too musical and too insane for the typically consumer. In all likelihood, even you won’t understand it. This music doesn’t directly threaten the status quo, but it certainly makes the status quo nervous. It’s not on par with hearing the Velvet Underground in the summer of 1965, but it’s probably like hearing the Velvet Underground in the winter of 1966. Can Delicate Steve become the wordless New Jersey U2? Sure, maybe. But maybe not. There might be too much at stake (and too many people in the way). Still, one listen to Wondervisions will irrefutably prove the only thing you really need to know: Delicate Steve makes music. And in today’s awful world, that’s almost all that matters. Right?
Newton, N.J. – Every 30 or 40 or 500 years, the DNA of culture itself emerges from the translucent blackness of the not-so-shallow underground. You hear a new band, and you think, “This is really something. This is like My Bloody Valentine, minus the guitars.” But then you think, “No, that’s not true. That’s not what this is like at all. Plus, there are lots of guitars here. I’m a goddamn idiot.” You want to walk away, but now it’s too late; now, you start to wonder what makes this music is so deeply arresting. You wonder why you are dancing against your will, and you wonder why every other sound you’ve ever heard suddenly sounds like the insignificant prologue to a moment you’re experiencing in the present tense. You find yourself unable to perform the simplest of activities -- a cigarette becomes impossible to light, a mewing kitten cannot be stroked, a liverish lover cannot be ignored. By the album’s third track, there is nothing left in your life; everything is gone, crushed into a beatific sonic wasteland you never want to escape. This, more than anything else imaginable, is the manifestation of artistic truth … a truer kind of truth … the only kind of truth that cannot lie, even with the cold steel of a .357 revolver jammed inside its wet mouth, truculently demanding a random falsehood.
Welcome to the work-a-day world of Delicate Steve.
Like a hydro-electric Mothra rising from the ashes of a village burned to the ground by post-rock minotaurs, the music of Delicate Steve will literally make you the happiest person who has never lived. Discovered firsthand by Luaka Bop A & R man Wills Glasspiegel in the parking lot of a Newton, N.J. strip mall, Delicate Steve was signed to the label before anyone at Luaka Bop heard even a moment of their music – all he needed to experience was a random conversation about what they hoped to achieve as a musical five-piece.
“They were just sitting around in lawn chairs, dressed like 19th century criminals, casually saying the most remarkable things,” recalls Glasspiegel. “It was wild. It was obtuse. One fellow would say, `Oh, I like Led Zeppelin III, but it skews a little dumptruck.’ Then another would say, `The problem with those early Prince albums is that he spent too much time shopping.’ I really had no idea what they were talking about, but it all somehow made sense. `We’ll be a different kind of group,” they said. `We will introduce people to themselves. We’ll inoculate them from discourse.’ I was immediately intrigued. I asked them if they wanted to have dinner, so we walked to a Chinese restaurant that was right up the road. I suggested we all get different dishes and share everything family style. They agreed. But then they ordered five identical entrees! So we sat there and ate a mountain of General Tso’s chicken for three straight hours, talking about music and literature and box kites and dystopias. Twenty-four later, they were signed to Luaka and inside a studio.”
Those studio sessions led to Wondervisions, the indescribable 12-track instrumental debut that reconstructs influences as diverse as Yes, Vampire Weekend, The Fall, Ravi Shankur, 10 cc, The Orbital, Jann Hammer, the first half of OK Computer, the second act of The Wizard of Oz, and the final pages of Jonathan Franzen’s Freedom. Originally conceived as a radio-friendly concept album about the early life of D.B. Cooper, de facto Delicate Steve leader Steve Marion decided to tear away the lyrics and move everything in a more experimental direction. “We don’t need the middlebrow to dig our music,” says the soft-spoken Marion. “We write for the fringes – the very, very rich and the very, very poor. That’s the audience we relate to, and that’s who these songs are about.”