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coverpic flag US - Texas - Full Moon 62 - 11/01/01

The American Analog Set
Know By Heart
Tigerstyle

So now I work at a café, yeah, I'm one of those café guys, disheveled with a knowing exactitude, the three-buttons-open-on-the-shirt, sleeves slightly rolled, foppish with the heart on them, lost in the wrinkles, cuffs gracefully falling down over the glum wrists, all action with my Reaction shoes, leaning and singing over the countertop, about these unartistic and non-academic dues, that's me there. Make my coiffure, gel my coffee, smoke cologne, and as a scent I wear "American Spirits in the Yellow Box", please.

All gently tussled, and I surprise myself at how quickly I've slicked and coagulated, even in the grease of an area such as Chelsea, to this city slicker sorta routine. Here I can reinvent myself on a daily basis, introvert and shine on my sunglasses and other plastic-coated accessories, invert the past and let it cycle back anew. Or, as Bowie once proposed, a new life in a new town.

And yet there must be something simple that keeps me grounded, keeps me at my roots, even if they are a different color other than black as a heart, as the other denizens of the city still and course about me, down the veins of Broadway. Is it my aesthetic tastes? Who I know? I mean, don't I know The American Analog Set, whose latest is now blaring over the in-house speakers, whispering over the rafters of the loft space? We're both from Austin, ground zero for hip, at least for all we knew, at the same parties, the same people, hell, even the same friggin' keg, and now we're in this place together. But weren't we at the real ground-zero not too long ago, when the band last visited Knitting Factory? Walking among the ashes? Ah, but isn't that already history?

What is important is what is before us. For me that is merely a computer screen, but so much bubbles under its facade. And while the new AmAnSet is on a new label, indie tastemakers, Tigerstyle, the band's signature sound from previous Emperor Jones releases still comes across clear, unaffected. Ken's soft voice is still ever-present, murmuring in your ear from any locus of the living room. About the most notable change, aside from keyboardist Lisa's departure, is the nudged upfront presence of the metallophones, and the terse new rhythmic nuances that two percussive elements can create.

There is the tattoo-like taps that smack deliciously of Neu!'s classic motorik, as well as the blooms of the xylophone and of course the whispers that croon and careen over the course of a blue afternoon. Even the Buckingham-esque touches on choruses and harmonies offer a comfort, perfect for sitting, for daydreaming, yet also allowing for a silent churning on the inside, deep in the tummy. Under the soft pillows might lay a razor, a worry about the future.

And what exactly is the future of AmAnSet? I have been told that this might be the last recording, but then again, I'm not exactly sweating the ash fall-out or possibility of anthrax on the subway tracks, so why not just enjoy the moment, the CD playing quietly overhead at my job? I'm too busy computing and I just don't need you, as the last track makes good on its testament. So back I go to leaning over the counter, gobbling some popcorn, flirting with the little art students that come by for coffee, enjoying bachelorhood and the last of the warm weather and gentle notes as the CD spins to an end.

Copyright © 2001 Andy Beta e-mail address

You may also want to check out our American Analog Set article/review: The Golden Band.

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