Art In America

Art In America

Art In America

Cloudborn

Edgewater Records

I remember hearing Art in America on the radio back in the early 1980’s. It was memorable because they were an art rock band from Detroit. At that time, Detroit was still rock city. They had an interesting sound. They were working a similar sound as Abacab-era Genesis or Rush when they were doing “Spirit of Radio.” They were doing pop songs with flourishes. The group formed around the Flynn siblings, Dan, Chris and Shishonee. I think Art in America remain the only rock band to achieve any level of success with one of their main instrumentalist playing concert harp. (Yes, the same instrument played by Harpo Marx).

I was curious about the band, but after that first album, they dropped off the radar. They did record a second album, but didn’t like the way it came out. They moved to California with the intention of getting a second album that they liked finished. Instead, they drifted off into day jobs and Art in America went on hiatus.

The hiatus might have continued indefinitely if not for producer, David Hentschel. Hentschel (who has worked with Genesis, Queen, and Elton John, among others), was looking for a band to produces and put out feelers to see if Art in America were up to do some sessions. The Flynn’s, of course, said yes, we’d love to work with you.

The appropriately named, “Tales of the Unexpected,” opens the album with a jolt. The tune is mostly instrumental, with bits of movie dialog and environmental sounds dropped in at strategic points. The song bursts forth in a wave of propulsive percussion, bowed bass (courtesy of Tony Levin) and colored by mellotron orchestration. It’s a bold opening that proclaims, hey, we’re still here! “I Am” follows with a lyric about personal growth and evolution. “I Am” also features the most prominent harp parts on the album. “The New Swami” is one of those songs that I alternate between loving and hating. Overall, it’s a good, propulsive rock song with some witty lyrical moments. The chorus on ” the New Swami” grates on my ears for some reason.

The Hentschel sessions make up the first six songs on Cloudborn, The rest of the songs were reclaimed from sessions date back as far as 1983. They’re the band aging in reverse. These tunes wave their Prog Rock flag proudly. “When We Were Young” has a mournful elegance that makes me think of Wind and Wuthering-era Genesis. “Don’t Look Down” sounds like a lost arena rock rouser. The final track blends three songs into an extended mini-suite.

Cloudborn is a welcome surprise from a band I’d nearly forgotten about. It is also a reminder that it’s never too late to realize your dreams.

Bonus Personal Trivia: Art in America began their career as a mostly covers band called Father. When I was I still in high school back in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I bluffed my way into the Bavarian Inn and saw Father play. I liked them enough to sneak into the Bavarian to see them again the next time they were in town. They were the first “local” band I sort of followed.

www.artinamericamusic.com

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Recently on Ink 19...

  • Bush Tetras
    Bush Tetras

    Rhythm and Paranoia (Wharf Cat). Review by Scott Adams.

  • Tom Tom Club
    Tom Tom Club

    The Good The Bad and the Funky (Nacional). Review by Julius C. Lacking.

  • Barnes & Barnes
    Barnes & Barnes

    Pancake Dream (Demented Punk Records). Review by Carl F. Gauze.

  • Jeremiah Lockwood
    Jeremiah Lockwood

    A Great Miracle: Jeremiah Lockwood’s Guitar Soli Chanukah Album (Reboot). Review by Bob Pomeroy.

  • Metallica: The $24.95 Book
    Metallica: The $24.95 Book

    From an underground band that pioneered the thrash metal sound, to arguably the biggest rock act in the new millennium, Metallica has had a long and tumultuous history. Ben Apatoff scours a myriad of sources to catalog this history in his new book.

  • Araceli Lemos
    Araceli Lemos

    Shortly after AFI Fest 2021 wrapped, Generoso spoke at length with director, Araceli Lemos about her award-winning and potent feature debut, Holy Emy. Lemos’s film uses elements of body horror in her story about the exoticization of two Filipina sisters living in Greece and how that exploitation creates a distance between them.

  • Southern Accents 55
    Southern Accents 55

    A woofin’ good time with cuts from Hank Williams, Muddy Waters, Delta Moon and more from KMRD 96.9, Madrid, New Mexico!

  • Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

    Absurdism with a healthy dose of air conditioning.

  • Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist
    Mixtape 172 :: My Old Bassist

    Like pre-teens throwing every liquid into the kitchen blender and daring each other to drink the results, Woody and Jeremy fuse all manner of sounds legitimate and profane into some murky concoction that tastes surprisingly good.

  • Demons/Demons 2
    Demons/Demons 2

    Synapse Films reissues Lamberto Bava’s epic ’80s gore-filled movies Demons and Demons 2 in beautiful new editions.

From the Archives