13 September 2009

Del Marquis: "Runaround"

Native New Yorker, Del Marquis is most famous for being the guitarist of the Scissor Sisters; the stoic, silent member, whose guitar playing is as slick, sophisticated, and progressive has his image implies. He is one of those underestimated guitarists that truly has a range of styles that he can put forward. Brilliantly, there is always a different approach / mindset between what he does in the studio and live. Whether strumming an acoustic or being a virtuoso on a Gibson, he always delivers what is needed for the official recording or changes it up to get an arena audience off their feet and partying along. But as much as I am a fan of the Scissor Sisters, this is about Del Marquis who has recently ventured into some solo releases, and on 22 September the next EP “Runaround” will be released, and you should not miss it.

Just to put the information out there, Del Marquis first solo EP was “Hothouse” (2 December 2008). There is a quality of personal warmth, which you get from the first track, “Remember Me Young,” with its interplay between acoustic and electric guitars. And though there is a definite influence from the eighties, it is not rehash – by any measure. Incorporated here are the best kinds of hooks that the 80s had to offer, while being fresh and relevant to the music scene now. And then the final track, “Hothouse,” is right out of left field; starting with “Freedom of speech and expression,” Del Marquis takes a real political stance, something that most musicians are afraid of doing. The follow up EP, “Character Assassination,” was released 2 March 2009. The titular track as familiar as the debut EP, but Del Marquis switches it up for “Raise the Level.” Truly a dance ready track, the song shows that Del Marquis can work as comfortably in rock, pop, or dance, with guitars or synths. But the track that is really going to get your attention is “Raise the Level Shadow”; sinisterly sexy, this piece has warmth to it that most electronically based music lacks. Teaming up with Embryoroom (Edwin Quist), on 26 March 2009, they jointly released the full length “Litter to Society.” Oscillating from cutting edge experimental pop to full fledged experimental electronica, the album is a journey through an ever-shifting, sometimes friendly, sometimes disarming, but always engaging soundscape. “Litter to Society Shadow” is one of those tracks that really see the meeting of worlds – electronic meets pop sensibilities, post-punk arrangements meets dance, the ambient meets the elusive.

After hearing this, how could you not wait in anticipation for something new?

Three new tracks accompanied by five remixes, Del Marquis mixes it up on the “Runaround” EP. Opening with “Runaround,” the track is dance ready, funky, with a clear understand of what made some of the best 80s dance tracks universal, timeless classics. Moving to “Lie By the Bed,” Del shifts to a piano-pop mentality, incorporating brass, he throws in a bit of humor, like “…if you lie with the vicar, you will wake up with sores…” The last of the original tracks, “Each Time I Reach the Sun,” just blew me away the same way that Kate Bush’s “Running Up that Hill” continues to blow me away twenty-four years after release. Not because he stuck to the true-and-tried conventions and rules of what makes timeless music, because that simply does not exist. But rather, because on this one Del Marquis really reached outside of the box – there is no rhyme or reason to this track, there is no way to define it in a definitive style. What you have here is real artistic growth; years of listening to Jane’s Addiction, the Cure, shoegazing, and disco and being a fan of music… Years of composing music with others, from glam to electronica… and always continuing to be active in not just the New York music scene, but the global scene, Del with this track composes what most musicians hope they will – a mind-blowing timeless, universal piece.

Now, I am not a purist – I can really appreciate a good remix when it is done well. The Bullycau Remix of “Character Assassination” gives the song a suave, late Erasure-esque feel. The Lifelike Remix of “Litter to Society” brings out the vocals into the forefront while adding a solid dance beat. Then there are three remixes of “Runaround.” From playing with vocal effects to a plethora of electronic sounds, the three remixes break from the feel of the original completely, but yet hold onto the core melodies and bring out a new potential of how the song could have evolved. But that is the thing about remixes – it is all about showing the possibilities that lie hid inside of the song; a mere extended version does not do any justice to a song, and losing the melodic content of the music is essentially just writing a new song with the same lyrics. To get remixes just right is the art of finding what lies deep inside and how to reinterpret the song without losing the actual song. And these remixes do just that.

So do yourself a favor… as you wait for next week’s release, head over to iTunes and start downloading and catching up with Del Marquis’ solo work (and his work with the Scissor Sisters if you are not familiar with it). Then on the 22 September, download “Runaround” and dance around your pad. (Oh, yeah, and go over to MySpace and/or Facebook and support the man.)


Track Listing:
1. Remember Me Young
2. Cry, So Long
3. How I Lost the Plot (and the Ego Survived)
4. Hothouse

“Character Assassination”

Track Listing:
1. Character Assassination
2. Raise the Level
3. Harmony Park
4. Untitled
5. Character Assassination
6. Raise the Level Shadow

“Litter to Society” (Del Marquis and Embryoroom)

Track Listing:
1. Litter To Society
2. Backroom
3. Litter to Society Shadow
4. AKL Shadow
5. Any Kind of Love
6. Bug
7. Backroom 2
8. I Believe in You
9. Litter to Society – video
10. The Third Rail, Part 1 – video
11. The Third Rail, Part 2 – video


Track Listing:
1. Runaround
2. Lies by the Bed
3. Each Time I Reach the Sun
4. Character Assassination – Bullycau Remix
5. Runaround – Baron von Luxxury Silver Lake of Disco Dreams Remix
6. Litter to Society – Lifelike Remix
7. Runaround – Luis La Roche “in 1995” Remix
8. Runaround – Loose Cannons Supersonic Remix

Keep up with Del Marquis at his homepage, MySpace, Facebook, and the Scissor Sister’s homepage.

Here are the videos for “Character Assassination” and “Litter to Society” from the embryoroom YouTube Channel.

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