What's Tonight To Eternity
Released: 14th February 2020
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CINDY LEE - What’s Tonight To Eternity
The ghostly sound of loneliness seeps through the velvet drapes of a dead-end bar at the end of the world, like smoke tendrils heavy with longing and loss. This is the ringing, aching voice of Cindy Lee - aka ex-Women guitarist Patrick Flegel, an artist singularly cleaving out a path through weeds of pain to create something utterly unique and beautiful. After the dissolution of his previous group following the unexpected death of drummer Chris Reimer, Flegel’s metamorphosis into Cindy Lee saw him delve deep into a dark soundworld shrouded in mystery, obfuscation and legend. Flegel found inspiration for Cindy Lee in the form of Karen Carpenter, drawing on the singer / drummer’s early recordings as well as her look and style. “I found a deep interest and comfort in Karen’s story, which is a cautionary tale about the monstrosity of show business, stardom at a young age and being a misfit looking for connection. The darkness and victimizing tabloid sensationalism she suffered is easily tempered and overwhelmed by her earnest output, her artistry, her tireless work ethic. Something utterly unique and magical takes shape in the negative space, out of exclusion. What I relate to in her has to do with what is hidden, what is unknown.” It’s a whole universe in fact and it’s culminated in Cindy Lee’s most fully realised and devastating album, What’s Tonight To Eternity.
Flegel / Lee’s songwriting has fully developed into an instantly heartbreaking crawl through the deepest, dankest well of human emotion yet tempered with a gift for jaw-dropping prettiness. “Singers like Patsy Cline and The Supremes carried me through the hardest times of my life,” explains Flegel, “and also provided the soundtrack to the best times.” These are good starting points with which to approach What’s Tonight To Eternity, but don’t expect an easy ride. Lee’s art is informed similarly by the Velvet Underground’s marriage of beauty with feedback-infected aesthetics, David Lynchian atmospheres where malformed, inverted chimeras flash onto the iris and then fade into the ether. At times, like on opener Plastic Raincoat, Lee is swamped by cascades of reverb that wash over like a Low-type guitar gauze if a morose Phil Spector was at the controls, with her vocal aching, bending into the notes, lashed by exotic high-pitched guitar notes. On I Want You To Suffer, harp and harpsichord instruments scintillate into the distorted night before an unexpected 60s Girl Group beat picks up the one-woman-chorus. It genuinely feels like we’re in uncharted territory at this point, rawkus guitar feedback erupting and cutting out.. we’re listening to You’ve Just Got To Waist pulverised by No Wave, the beauty of Flegel/Lee’s voice fighting an epic battle with their intention to throw off casual listeners.
On this album, Cindy Lee has created their own universe and is the sole inhabitant of it, gazing out at the community of others; it’s an almost celestial loneliness that nevertheless touches the mortal listener. You could touch on any number of other artists to reference: Flying Saucer Attack, Velvets, distorted, spectral Lee Hazlewood production, early Tangerine Dream kosmiche meets the most vulnerable Sun City Girls cuts, the host of 90s alternative American songwriters, some of the more groovier tracks even sound like the Cambodian country funk jams reissued by Sublime Frequencies. On Lucifer Stand there’s an unmistakable synth groove that borrows from Spirit In The Sky to render a sort of melancholy drive through a smog-choked late night metropolis, the synth rising in resonance slowly, almost as if it was crushing your heart painfully slowly. On Speaking From Above, Lee’s pretty Italians Do It Better composition is smothered by what sounds like Lou Reed forcefully attacking a fully amped Marshall stack, it’s almost painful but thrilling before the epic Just For Loving You I Pay The Price, which sounds like a composition Angelo Badalamenti would die to have written.
What’s Tonight To Eternity ends with Heavy Metal, a straight-forward ballad dressed with sparkling guitar work from Flegel. Dedicated to his bandmate Chris Reimer, it’s just downright beautiful, like a slightly more developed Grouper song (Cindy Lee also shares a label with Liz Harris). We’re so excited to present Cindy Lee’s What’s Tonight To Eternity as our February Album Of The Month and hope you fall for this music as much as we have.