BOSTON, Mass., 1983 — To have never experienced the extreme bliss that is only achievable when you expose yourself to harmonic waves of extraordinarily amplified sound, is like saying you have never kissed a lover in the rain.
Whether in the form of a loud club, in the midst of full-on Moroccan Jajouka band, in a massive drum circle on the Asian steppes or in the middle of a wave in Fenway Park, it is a wildly affecting and moving event.
Conversely, if you have never found the solace of a saving grace in the quiet transmissions of a solitary soul, in the meditative murbling of a babbling brook or, in a careless whisper of sin and redemption, you are equally bereft of a moment of profound beauty in your life.
There are few music performers who can straddle both sides of the sonic coin. Despite the painfully sublime and beautifully, whisperingly soft sound soul connection of Leonard Cohen, there can be no doubt he could ever rock a Marshall stack.
Nor could one expect the brutally beatific, king-hell sound pressure of Corpse Grinder to make a successful transition to pristine and precise acapella arrangements of their classics.
Gurl Twenty Two, Thalia Zedek is one of rare artists able to work within both approaches in order to fulfill that incredibly debilitating compulsion to take raw emotion; love, hate, lust, regret and to manifest the ephemeral nature of those states into the physical plane through sculpture, painting, poem—or song.
Amazing songs that just do not seem to stop blaring out of her with clarion brilliance over the trajectory of so many years now. Of course, that is in your humble narrator’s (YHN) opinion.
Thalia’d been noticed in other aggregations around Boston after her arrival from the D.C. Area. She had performed at the Underground (see Gurl Four) where YHN first made her acquaintance and where we began circuitous intersections of intent in our various pursuits.
Doing sound for her deconstructed pop/noise trio White Women was always a treat. We shared many blurry moments in those heady days, least of which was her excitement in relating the formation of a new band she was starting.
It really wasn’t until her stint in Dangerous Birds that Thalia began to create her remarkable body of work.
The band was a super-group of sorts with musicians coming from bands who had achieved a modicum of success in our little scene.
Never one to sit still, Thalia formed her next outfit Uzi, shortly after YHN had moved to Los Angeles. More on that, later.
Uzi signaled a more aggressive and sonically detailed sound that presaged her later explorations into the depths of emotion and interaction with other near-evangelical cohorts she tumbled with along the way.
Giving way to an artistic impulse to mine darker, more emotional rawness than is necessarily good for you is not a journey for the faint of heart. Gurl Twenty Two seemingly raced to meet it and seemed to want nothing more than to embrace demons tightly in order to concretely conjure her musical vision.
Thalia soon after left Boston behind, as so many did, moving to NYC to join slab-o-sound concussive sin enthusiasts Live Skull. She also left her guitar behind or, at least wasn’t really playing it much on stage anymore.
Despite having delved deep into a personal demimondaine that can only be honed on certain stages and in certain parts of cities like London, Berlin, New York and Amsterdam, Thalia seemed intent on creating music informed by liberation, inspiration, debasement and rapture.
She moved back to Boston and started Come.
Although as well-versed in the applications of assault in music as anyone at the time, it seemed as if Thalia was attempting to create a musical event that could provoke a heretofore lost space in a listener at any volume from a whisper to a scream.
She was soon immersed in the often inspiration-numbing crucible that is forced on many artists via a promotional machinery that is always waiting to pounce on the next big thing and suck it dry.
With acceptance, innovation becomes paradoxically harder because fans are resistant to change. With recognition, the anonymity so crucial for introspection and creation.
Having never shown fear in pursuing her muse, wherever it happened to point, Thalia began crafting intensely personal and desperately compelling vignettes.
It was if somehow she had morphed the crushing onslaught of bass-driven standing waves into the merest caress of a piano and the searing screams of loss and despair into a dimly heard murmur of a voice from the shadows.
YHN had intertwined with Thalia in all phases of her excavation of self in the pursuit of truth. From the beginning to assorted gigs in NYC during conventions. In hometown venues opening for other bands from future stories, at reunion shows for revered bands from our salad days and in-between.
Through all the years. Despite the debris that can accumulate in a desire to go deeper than others dare. Driven more by intuitive design than preconceived postures Gurl Twenty Two helped YHN understand the grace that can come with a begrudging acceptance of your gifts and prophesy.
We saw each other again this past weekend. True to the confounding nature of her art Thalia performed with her thrillingly transcendent new combo “a band called E.”
As the waves of their collective pulse emanations washed over the listener, it was as if they wiped away the sands of time leaving precious bits of memory and shiny bits of joy exposed to the light once again.
No amplifiers were fried during the amplification of this piece.
Your Humble Narrator Alabama Beggs is a character from “Save Me The Waltz” and is known for following a passion, achieving a dream which allows the respect of family and the envy of friends, yet still feels something is missing from life.
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