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On Deck: Split Screens

By ; April 2, 2013 at 12:00 AM 

Split Screens

Multi-instrumentalist Jesse Cafiero has been making bedroom isolation-oriented music since he moved to San Francisco from the east coast a few years ago. Looking to employ his musical skills, he made the rounds in the independent music community in San Francisco, and word quickly spread—especially regarding his talents as a bassist. He soon became the go-to bass player for many artists such as John Vanderslice, Ezra Furman, and Thao Nguyen. He paired with producer Jeremy Black (Apollo Sunshine, Ferocious Few) for his self-titled debut EP, and with the help of drummer Rory O’Connor (Com Truise, Tycho) and vibraphone player Geneva Harrison, he released his debut in December of last year. Utilizing Black’s tape delays, Harrison’s gently flowing vibraphone accompaniment, and O’Connor’s insistent though never obtrusive rhythms, the Split Screens EP seems to find that ideal balance between Cafiero’s early drone leanings and his subsequent bedroom pop tendencies. He recently sat down and wrote about some of his favorite records for Beats Per Minute. Ranging from seminal reggae group The Congos to psych forebears Pink Floyd, Cafiero has chosen artists which have played a prominent role in both his personal musical schooling and the ever-changing development of his own music. Check out his picks below in the latest installment of our On Deck series.

Beck - Sea Change
Beck – Sea Change

Sea Change is a breakup record masterpiece, and I can attest it certainly gave validity and meaning to my own relationship turmoil a few years back. Beck channels this kind of devastating beauty on Sea Change that easily makes it one of my favorite records and a huge testament on how much power music can achieve when the bullshit is pushed aside. I remember playing this record non stop upon my move across the country to San Francisco. Listening to it now just reminds me of those rare, inspiring moments of ones life when everything is fresh and exciting.

The Congos - The Heart of the Congos
The Congos – Heart of the Congos

In my apartment between my two roommates, reggae is being pumped through the walls on a near-constant basis. Being a bass player first and foremost, I really can’t help but love roots reggae (who can’t be won over by Family Man?). For me though, Heart Of The Congos somehow rises above the rest. Considered one of Lee Scratch Perry’s production masterpieces, Heart Of The Congos has this amazing dark quality to it, from the minor tonalities to the murky, expansive reverb that flows through every track. Listening to this one on vinyl is the way to go!

Ezra Furman - The Year of No Returning
Ezra Furman – The Year of No Returning

Okay, this one is a bit bias, I happen to play bass sometimes in Ezra’s backing band. But still! Nothing is more inspiring to me as an artist then being blown away by a record and actually knowing the person who created it. Ezra’s unique personality and artistry on The Year Of No Returning is so dynamic, ranging from aggressive rock and roll to straight up tounge-in cheek lounge. Oh yeah, and the lyrics…just brilliant. When we were playing in Southern California this fall, I felt like every time he wasn’t around the rest of the band would instantly start gushing about their favorite Ezra lines. It’s hard to pinpoint just one, but if I had to choose my favorite it would have to be from ‘Dr. Jeckle and Mr. Hyde’: ”There’s a thousand ways to love her/ Open heart, or under cover.” So good!

Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

Before I had Radiohead to call my cliche ‘favorite band’, I had Pink Floyd. It’s not a real far off comparison either, I’ve always had a love for anything resembling art-rock and in their heyday the guys in Pink Floyd were definitely making some crazy, experimental music. Certainly the idea of having fluidity between tracks on the Split Screens EP would have never crossed my mind without their influence. With the exception of the radio-friendly title track (which I can definitely live without), Wish You Were Here is a near flawless concept record. The lyrical cynicism that comes through on ‘Have a Cigar’ could have only been written by Roger Waters and the multi-layered synth tones on ‘Welcome to the Machine’ were a true breakthrough in electronic music.

David Axelrod - The Edge - David Axelrod at Capitol Records 1966-70
David Axelrod – The Edge: David Axelrod at Capitol Records 1966/70

David Axelrod’s music is challenging to fit into any category. Many of the tracks I love on this record are instrumental, and they carry these immense string section melodies while still managing to blend psychedelic rock, jazz and r&b. It seems like whenever I put The Edge on, it effortlessly transports me to my own romanticized reality of late 1960’s Los Angeles. I can close my eyes and see the palm trees and convertibles, it’s incredible! If you’ve never heard of Axelrod, you owe yourself a listen, it’s definitely some of the swankiest music ever created!

Head over to the Split Screens website to hear the self-titled debut EP.

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