Saddle Creek | Cursive | Reviews


The Ugly Organ

Author: Emily Fasten
4/8/2003 | Guitar Player | Feature
"Everyone is soaring right now,"explains Cursive guitarist Ted Stevens of the scene in his Omaha, Nebraska, home town. "We're really high energy, and we're making a lot of records and writing a lot of music."

Omaha may not be the first place that comes to mind when the words "up-and-coming music scene"are uttered, but according to Stevens and co-guitarist/vocalist Tim Kasher, there's no better place for a tight-knit community of musicians to evolve.

"If we grew up in Los Angeles,"says Kasher, "we'd probably strap on guitars and think, 'Okay, let's write some songs and work the major labels for a shot at a recording contract.' But in Omaha, you don't have a shot at anything. So music became an intense hobby-ist thing for a lot of players, and we just became each other' sbiggest fans and fueled each other's fires."

on Cursive's fourth, full-length release, the conceptual The Ugly Organ [Saddle Creek], Kasher and Stevens' heavy, sprawling guitar parts ooze and weave over Matt Maginn's bass, Clint Schnase's drums, and the moaning strings of Cusive's newest addition, cellist Gretta Cohn. A "pseudo-drama,"the album tells the story of dysfunctional love and the perils of intense self-analysis, and it questions the value of music relevance prevents them from resorting to conventional guitar tones.

"Tim plays alots of ring modulated sounds - really dissonant blips and beeps ,"says Stevens. "We half-jokingly call that 'the robot.' I specialize in big, bendy chords and making the animal-like sounds. i actually want to see us get even weirder. I keep saying to the guys, 'Fork and socket!' I want to create something jarring and unthinkable."

To produce his bizarre moments, Steens plugs a beat up, S-100 Guild into a reissue '65 Fender Twin Reverb. Kasher also uses a Fender Twin, but bangs around on a mid-'80s Gibson Corvus.

"It's a pretty neat guitar,"says Kasher. "It tends to astonish people when they see it - especially when they find out it's a Gibson. It was only made between 1983 and 1985, and I think it was considered a huge flop in the Gibson World. It can take an incredible beating, though."

"Both of us playing twins brongs out a more 'Kinks' type of sound than if we were using Marshall half-stacks,"adds Stevens. "And the Twin is versatile as hell."

Looking to future projects, the duo is committed to developing a new and exciting musical lanuage. "Every time we get into making an album, we get further away from using the guitar as a traditional noisemaker,"says Kasher. "And on each record we get a little closer to understanding what it is we're doing instrumentally. I would like to find a music so unusual that people listening to it would simply not understand it."
The Ugly Organ

The Ugly Organ

LP / CD / MP3