DC post-hardcore vets Edsel unearth “lost” 2001 EP for Bandcamp Friday
DC band Edsel, who released records on Dischord, DeSoto, Jade Tree, Grass and others, broke up in 1997 though they've played a few one-off reunion shows in the years since. Frontman Sohrab Habibion went on to be in Obits and is currently in Brooklyn's SAVAK, which occasionally also features ex-Edsel member Geoff Sanoff (who has worked behind the boards on all their albums).
Today for Bandcamp Friday, Edsel have shared what was the last music they ever recorded which was from 2001 and was actually made to help test out the gear at the then-new Stratosphere Sound recording studio in NYC where Sanoff was going to work. (Stratosphere was owned by Smashing Pumpkins' James Iha and Ivy's Andy Chase and Adam Schlesinger [RIP].) "As a younger engineer, I was still in the process of figuring out how to capture the sounds I heard in my head and on other people’s records," Geoff writes. "It wasn't too surprising that the recording needed some additional work, especially as the bones of it had been recorded in a studio with a live room which was LIVE and untreated, with a band who hadn’t written together in four years, and with gear that had been plugged in for the first time! With that said, when I turned off the computer at the end of that weekend of recording, I never could have imagined the path it would take to get those songs finished and out into the world."
Nineteen years later, and the A Lost Language EP is finally out in the world. As Sanoff noted, it required some finishing touches, though. "We started with the four members of Edsel from the 1995 incarnation of the band - Sohrab, Steve [Raskin], Steven [Albert] and me -- but expanded to include Michael Hampton [Faith, Embrace], Matt Schulz [current SAVAK drummer], and the sadly-departed Mark Hutchins." These songs hit some spacerock/prog territory that you might not associate with Edsel -- "Nothing Left to Discover" is pretty far out -- but are nonetheless very cool, and you could imagine being played alongside bands of the time like Flaming Lips, Grandaddy and Super Furry Animals.
Listen to the A Lost Language EP, and read Sanoff's full liner notes, below.
Sohrab of Edsel/SAVAK filmed a lot of punk shows as a kid in DC (Fugazi, Dag Nasty, Govt Issue, Descendents, more) and has been uploading them to YouTube.
SAVAK released Rotting Teeth in the Horse's Mouth earlier this year.
When you are opening a recording studio, at a certain point you need a test subject. It’s really the only way to figure out what’s working and what’s not working without embarrassing yourself on someone else's dime. As the “chief engineer” at the soon-to-open Stratosphere Sound in NYC, I had the job of making sure the first clients through the door got their money’s worth. And so it came about that I corralled my bandmates in Edsel for our last recording session together, which, as it happened, was also the inaugural recording session at Stratosphere Sound.
By July of 2001 Edsel was non-operational as a band. We had never broken up, we’d just moved on to other things. I’d moved to New York to pursue my goal of becoming a music producer. Sohrab had come along two years later to keep the rock dream alive and the graphic arts looking good. And Steve and Steven had been seduced by the siren song of electronica and were well into exploring new music and spreading their love of the beat. This was pre-9/11, Internet 1.0 America. There was no terrorism, no iPhone, no YouTube, Google, Spotify, COVID or any of the other plagues or innovations that were to come.
Like any other band, we’d had our arguments over the years, but while we had drifted into different worlds, we still liked each other, and had no problem trying to make music together. So after a sweaty weekend in the unfinished Stratosphere, we’d managed to record some ideas and looked forward to working on them more. As a younger engineer, I was still in the process of figuring out how to capture the sounds I heard in my head and on other people’s records. It wasn't too surprising that the recording needed some additional work, especially as the bones of it had been recorded in a studio with a live room which was LIVE and untreated, with a band who hadn’t written together in four years, and with gear that had been plugged in for the first time! With that said, when I turned off the computer at the end of that weekend of recording, I never could have imagined the path it would take to get those songs finished and out into the world. Nineteen years later, here they are, finally emerging from a hard drive.
The process employed every new bit of technology along the way to turn it from a test subject into a finished recording. But, in the end, it finished as it began—in a nice room with vintage gear and some great musicians coming along to help us see it off. We started with the four members of Edsel from the 1995 incarnation of the band—Sohrab, Steve, Steven and me—but expanded to include Michael Hampton, Matt Schulz, and the sadly-departed Mark Hutchins. It's been an interesting lesson in what works and why, but in the end, I think I’ve just re-learned what I already knew, which is that technology can’t fake musicians or chemistry. Hopefully this recording does justice to that thought and to the sound of the band that spawned it.
–Geoff Sanoff, August 5, 2020.
releases August 7, 2020
Sohrab Habibion - guitar, vocals
Geoff Sanoff - bass, vocals, keys
Steve Raskin - guitar, keys
Steven Albert - drums
With help from:
Michael Hampton - guitar on “Golden Rake”
Mark Hutchins - additional drums on “Golden Rake”
Matt Schulz - additional drums on “A Lost Language”
Recorded by Geoff Sanoff at Stratosphere Sound,
Renegade Studio & Park Place
Mixed by Geoff Sanoff at Renegade Studio
Mastered by Tim Turan at Turan Audio