By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
By Scott Reitz
Colm O'Ciosoig is back to perform in Dallas for a second time this year, but, this time, earplugs won't be essential equipment to perhaps preserve your hearing. And you almost certainly won't feel your clothes fluttering in a sonic wind this time around as his band plays a legendary set-closing song that includes 14 minutes of jet engine-loud, mind-washing white noise.
But, as was the case when he appeared with his band My Bloody Valentine, O'Ciosoig will still be behind the drums, this time as a member of Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions. Sandoval, of course, is the narcotic voice of the mythic Mazzy Star, a band whose music defined the category of slow-core psychedelic. Along with O'Ciosoig, her partner in both household and the Warm Inventions, Sandoval is touring in support of their excellent new release Through the Devil Softly. It's something of a special occasion, too, this release. Let's face it: "Prolific" is not a term likely to be applied to either Sandoval or O'Ciosoig. MBV's last release was 18 years ago, Mazzy Star's was 13 years ago, and their last as Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions came in 2001.
Despite the absence of newer albums, it should be noted that neither Mazzy Star nor My Bloody Valentine ever disbanded. According to Sandoval, a new Mazzy Starr album is nearly complete. And, O'Ciosoig says, the Warm Inventions tour ends in London, where he'll join Kevin Shields to rehearse for MBV's performance at the December Nightmare Before Christmas festival (curated by MBV for All Tomorrow's Parties) and begin recording what should be a future My Bloody Valentine release.
Back home, though, the couple maintains a low profile in the Bay Area. A much-sought-after vocalist, Sandoval has surfaced in recent years in tracks from Jesus and Mary Chain, The Chemical Brothers and Air, among others. She'll also appear on the pending release from Massive Attack. Notoriously shy, when Sandoval lends her voice to another artist's music, she usually records her tracks in her home studio, preferring to not actually meet and sing with people she doesn't know.
"It's better in a way," Sandoval explained to the Montreal Gazette earlier this month. "You don't have so much anxiety. It's hard singing with somebody you don't know. It's more free, more private on your own."
Unsurprising that theirs is a musical household: "We inspire each other to write," O'Ciosoig says, on a tour stop in Montreal. "And we are always playing, trying things out on each other."
As such, Sandoval and O'Ciosoig each play multiple instruments on the new release. O'Ciosoig is generally known for his drumming skills, and the percussion on the new Warm Inventions album is spare and atmospheric, but, on this album, O'Ciosoig also contributes guitar. "I started playing guitar as a kid—actually before I started drumming—so it's not something new for me," O'Ciosoig says. Neither are the other contributions, necessarily. Also appearing on the record are Mazzy Star keyboardist Suki Ewers and cellist Ji Young Moon, and, perhaps most significant, the members of Irish band Dirt Blue Gene, all of whom are old friends of O'Ciosoig's.
"We developed the songs long-distance, sending bits of songs back and forth," O'Ciosoig says. "Then we flew to Ireland and went into the studio to complete the recording." Other parts of the record were recorded in a rented cabin in the mountains of Northern California, O'Ciosoig further explains. "We had to get away from the distractions of home and set up our portable studio equipment in the cabin."
And though Sandoval remains a reticent live performer, O'Ciosoig says the duo is enjoying its time out on the road performing, where they are accompanied by Dirt Blue Gene. They've also enjoyed the benefit of performing in the settings they most prefer.
"We've been out on the road for three weeks now," O'Ciosoig says, "and the band is really coming together nicely. We've played a lot of small venues and the occasional big one to make the economics work."
So, it stands to reason, the intimacy of the Sons of Hermann Hall should be the perfect setting for the band's Dallas performance—an added treat to the fact that shows from either musician are rare events in the region.