Singer and bassist Erik Sanko
started Fertile Crescent to play a less cerebral music than the one he used to
play with the Lounge Lizards.
Fertile Crescent (Knitting Factory, 1992) is a collection of
oblique pop ditties, full of intriguing sonic devices.
Sanko then formed Skeleton Key with
drummer Stephen Calhoon, junk percussionist Rick Lee and
the atonal guitar of Chris Maxwell.
In My Mind/ Human Pincushion/ Watch The Fat Man Swing (Dedicated, 1995)
Nod Off (Motel, 1996)
sharpened Sanko's vision of avant-pop: catchy refrains, but set to
The album Skeleton Key (Motet, 1996), reissued as
Fantastic Spikes Through Balloon (Capitol, 1997),
is a wonderful nonsense of pop inspired by the (un-poppy) likes of
Captain Beefheart and Tom Waits
(the bluesy Nod Off and the funky All The Things I've Lost),
capable of both catchy ditties (World's Most Famous Undertaker) and
soulful ballads (Watch The Fat Man Swing).
Veteran bassist Erik Sanko launched a solo career along the same coordinates
of Skeleton Key with Past Imperfect Present Tense (Jetset, 2001).
Sanko indulges in dreamy, surreal melodies a` la Robert Wyatt,
penning lovely ditties such as
While You Were Out, That Train, The Perfect Flaw.
Obtainium (Ipecac, 2002), featuring new drummer Colin Brooks,
is another ebullient collection that runs the gamut from
Pere Ubu (Sawdust) to
Tom Waits (Roost in Peace, The Barker of the Dupes),
from visceral rock'n'roll
(King Know It All, One Way My Way, Panic Bullets)
to tender pop lullabies (Say Goodnight).
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