Thin One the Red One
Dead Sea Choir is the music of unapologetically big ideas. The project was formed by Costa Stasinopoulos and Daniel Gimlin, two budding musicians at the peak of adolescence - precocious, literate and ambitious. Not content with the simplicity of the modern Garage Band and frustrated by the complacency of some top-forty radio, they saw Dead Sea Choir as an opportunity to create the kind of unstoppable force that would utilize a pop frame of reference as the starting point for exceptionally grandiose music, both epic, and, idealistically speaking, timeless. This kind of unbridled zeal is often seen as the folly of youth, but over the last eight years, Stasinopoulos and Gimlin have proven that adolescent naiveté had little to do with their ever-present fervor. Rarely does a project aim so astronomically high so early in it's conception ... Today, the Dead Sea Choir concept is alive and well. With Stasinopoulos on vocals and keys and Gimlin on guitar, drummer Patrick Ryan, bassist Geordan Taylor and guitarist Philip Phillips fill out a quintet of individual visions and talents that, when brought together, compose a powerhouse of both musicianship and big ideas that is assured in it's vision and alarming in it's complexity. Over the last two years, the band has diligently pieced together it's soon-to-be-released, debut masterpiece, Thin One the Red One. As recorded, produced and engineered by Stasinopoulos, the album carries the weight of a perfectionist's execution- the product of an endlessly gifted obsessive who approaches his craft with an uncommonly astute balance of intelligence, tenacity and passion. After an extended gestation period, wherein the album was written, recorded and tweaked ad infinitum, the end result finally proves as audacious as it does deliberate. Sonically, it's something akin to Mozart, Aphex Twin, Radiohead and Philip Glass battling each other in space. Stasinopoulos's vocals quiver and shake, utilizing a staggering vocal range (nearly a half-dozen octaves), recalling elements of Jeff Buckley, Freddie Mercury and Thom Yorke, with a complex mix of organic and synthetic percussive elements providing the backbone to sweeping piano arpeggios, atmospheric guitar and electronic girth. In short, this music is big. Lyrically, Thin One the Red One approaches existence as a series of never-ending conflicts, creation versus destruction, beauty versus deformity, life versus death, harmony versus cacophony, God versus Lucifer... Man versus all of the above. The effect can be overwhelming at times, and one can quickly tell that the music is meant to reflect the tough lyrical themes. Melody and dissonance conquer each other as songs are destroyed and rebuilt again and again. The result is something beautiful, even hypnotic, but also jarring and epileptic, albeit purposefully. It's hard to gauge what listener response will be in the months to come, but the word 'divisive' comes to mind. Whatever the opinions of Thin One the Red One are destined to be, a live show with Dead Sea Choir is a completely different animal, and should be seen as such. There's a sense of restraint in their performance that accentuates the epic nature of what they're attempting; the unorthodox and sometimes provoking elements of the album are all but completely absent. The result is an impressively streamlined set that maintains a palpable aggression while carefully navigating the waters between passionate showmanship and needless histrionics. As they continue to push the boundaries of artistic prowess and commercial relativity, only two things are certain: the name Dead Sea Choir will soon be known, and those that know it will have an opinion. A strong one at that.