New Music: Chrystian Rawk, “Olympia”
Those who have known me personally from my teen years onward will be scratching their heads over the unlikelihood of my name appearing in the byline for a story about a band called Chrystian Rawk. Still others who have heard this band have asked me, “what’s the deal with Chrystian Rawk? Is it a joke? Am I supposed to take it seriously?”
Only one thing I will reveal, in the interest of time and mystery, is that the band’s leader, Christian Carpenter, is a seriously sick musician (and I mean that in the best possible sense) with a gift for deconstructing familiar musical concepts. He may look like David Coverdale’s kid brother, trying to lure Tawny Kitaen down from her dancing pole with his curly blond locks, but don’t let his looks fool you. Christian doesn’t go for wild screechy vocal histrionics a la Coverdale and Robert Plant. Rather, he keeps the focus on the lyrics of whatever song he’s delivering, all the while giving tasteful and expertly executed musical accompaniment whether it be on guitar or bass.
“Olympia” is a cover of the old punk chestnut by Rancid. As you will very quickly hear, this is no ordinary punk cover. It’s actually a beautiful non-punk recast, re-imagined from the perspective of a trained jazz musician with a desire to convey the song’s meaning in a chamber pop context. It’s 100% representative of the EP from which it is drawn, Youth Music Revisited, which also gives the same treatment to songs by The Clash, Pennywise, NOFX, Operation Ivy and the Descendents.
Youth Music Revisited is released on limited edition cassette tape at a special live performance on June 30, 2012 at The Starry Plough in Berkeley, CA. For the analog-challenged, free downloads of the EP can be accessed at chrystianrawk.bandcamp.com
Finally, take a look at Christian’s artist statement regarding the concept behind Youth Music Revisited to get a feel for the project in the man’s own words:
Although my personal music collection began with Green Day’s Dookie, it wasn’t until 6 years later that I would attempt to learn how to play. In the interim between childhood and “adolescence” I had stumbled 6 years into the future and arrived 12 years into the past. With Dookie as the pivot point I had somehow inverted time and found the album that, for me, will always symbolize the birth of my musicianship, the spirit of creativity and the possibility of music to effect change. Operation Ivy’s Knowledge was the catalyst for my foray into basement jamming and the endless grappling of fret to finger coordination. But more importantly, it was the first music I had heard that inspired serious reflection on the immense power of song, and from that longing I discovered Punk. Rather, I had discovered “my” Punk: Rancid, Descendents, Pennywise, NOFX; mostly contemporary, entirely Californian and definitely inspired by the street-side storytelling of the genre’s patriarchs, The Clash.
Over the years, drifting from one musical mask to another, I somehow began to write songs of my own. Through this process and all of its shortcomings, I’ve grown increasingly fascinated with how the “content” of a song is perceived in radically different ways by only subtle variations in “context.” YOUTH MUSIC REVISITED is an attempt to create a context that could attract an entirely different audience; an attempt to demonstrate that these songs are gorgeous, important, and transcendent of any one genre.
Youth Music Revisited credits:
- Mark Clifford: Vibraphone, Melodica, Glockenspiel, Cans, Floor Tom
- Derek Barber: 12 string and Electric Guitar, Delays
- Aaron Gold: Shakers, Tambourines, Cymbal, Snare Drum, Chains, Spirit, etc.
- Christian Carpenter: Acoustic Guitar, Upright Bass, Vocals, Arrangements
- Bijan Sharifi: Mixing and Mastering