search by
artist  album title  keyword
trouser press
Home
Reviews
What's New
Trouser Press Magazine
Message Board
Links
FAQ's
Merchandise
Contact Us
XML
 
 

ROMEO VOID (Buy CDs by this artist)
Its a Condition (415) 1981
Benefactor (415/Columbia) 1982
Never Say Never (415/Columbia) 1982
Instincts (415/Columbia) 1984
DEBORA IYALL
Strange Language (415/Columbia) 1986

Walloping big-beat riffs with snaky sax and darkly intelligent lyrics characterized this San Francisco area dance/think combo. Native American artist-and-poet-turned- vocalist Debora Iyall uses her smoky, conversational voice to wax reflective on love and lust in these modern times; consistent with the band's name, she sings not only of situations where love is absent, but also of when it should be absent.

Its a Condition introduced Romeo Void's unique blend of jazz, funk, rock and confrontational poetry in its formative stages, the music a bit tentative and unfocused, especially in contrast with Iyall's hard-edged lyrics. Never Say Never, a four-song EP co-produced by Ric Ocasek, gained the group significant airplay and sales, leading to the link between San Francisco independent 415 and the CBS megalith. It's consequently no surprise that a truncated version of "Never Say Never" opens up Benefactor; as it turns out, that song proved to be more of a stylistic mold than might be considered healthy.

The most fully realized record of the bunch, Instincts boasts David Kahne's rich, full-blooded production, top-notch playing and reprises of various stylistic avenues. "Just Too Easy" resembles "Never Say Never" and pairs Ben Bossi's ace sax work with Iyall's sardonic, spoken monologue; "A Girl in Trouble (Is a Temporary Thing)" touches a poppier, more melodic side; "Six Days and One" reverts to a spare, mainly rhythmic approach. Mixing strength with beauty, Romeo Void makes very special dance music for the mind.

A strange blend of unlikely people creating rather unsurprising music, Iyall's solo album was produced by Pat Irwin, once a Lydia Lunch collaborator in 8 Eyed Spy and later a Raybeat. The cast includes Irwin (clarinet, sax, guitar, synth), Richard Sohl (pianist in the original Patti Smith Group) and others; Ben Bossi (sax) and Aaron Smith (drums) of Romeo Void also participate. Iyall obviously takes her poetry seriously; unfortunately, Irwin (co- writer of six tunes here) leads the musicians through underwhelming, blandly faceless rock backing that pointedly lacks Romeo Void's atmospherics.

[Robert Payes]