Guitars can sound mad, and guitars can sound sad, but they almost never sound sexy. A rock ‘n’ roll discovery on a par with spandex may be what Kurt Ralske does with his guitar in the sinuous, silky, seductive Ultra Vivid Scene. It’s neopsychedelia, all right, but LSD was never like this. Ralske (he’s from Boston, but cut his musical teeth hanging out in London with guitar weirdos like the Jesus and Mary Chain and Loop) does things with pop music that you thought were past doing: the new record, Joy 1967-1990, is chock full o’technology, but it all sounds human and real; Ralske’s voice should be all affected, like any self-respecting Chain-loving rocker’s, but it’s silky and sexy too; and even his guitar buildups, like say for instance the one on “Three Stars,” are somehow gentle. Ralske was a one-man band on his first album, Ultra Vivid Scene; Joy is allegedly the work of a group, but neither record nor PR material vouchsafes who’s in it. (Ralske has a three-piece touring ensemble, though.) The record is a terrific piece of work: after “sexy,” the first word you think of is “hummable,” and you keep thinking it all the way through–except during “The Kindest Cut,” when you’re moved, and the wholly intense “Special One,” when a cameo by Pixie Kim Deal on the bridge creates one of those rock ‘n’ roll moments we all live for. Huh? Words? What are the songs about? I haven’t the faintest idea. Ultra Vivid Scene opens for the formidable Bob Mould, touring on the cheery Black Sheets of Rain. Saturday, 7:30 PM, Riviera Night Club, 4746 N. Racine; 769-6300.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Renaud Montfourney.