Skeleton Key
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
Fertile Crescent, 6/10
Fantastic Spikes Through Balloon, 7/10
Erik Sanko: Past Imperfect Present Tense , 6.5/10
Obtainium , 6/10
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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. The EPs In My Mind/ Human Pincushion/ Watch The Fat Man Swing (Dedicated, 1995) and Nod Off (Motel, 1996) sharpened Sanko's vision of avant-pop: catchy refrains, but set to unconventional harmonies. 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.

Skeleton Key's 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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