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Blast From the Past: Subliminal Criminal - S/T

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Subliminal Criminal
(Space Cadette Records)

If we lived in different times, Ed Matus would be the type of gent who holds doors open for ladies, organizes fox hunts, gardens organically and holds the secrets of the glue that has for some bizarre reason made South Florida a hub of musical creativity. Oh no, scratch that, he DOES all those things with the exception of the fox hunts... wouldn't want PETA breathing down the necks of my New Times sheriffs... this lowly scribe needs his checks and I don't usually dabble in the Kat Stacks/LeBron James beat.

But moving along, one of my fondest memories of Mr. Matus occurred outside of Cheers proper one balmy summer eve where we jousted knowledge on on-screen interpretations of Italians (though truth be told, we called them Ay-talians that night, my mother's famiglia would be so proud, veramente) and I instantly knew that this man was more than just the "Cheers guy."

Anyways. South Florida had an incredibly amazing moment of artistic creativity somewhere in the 90's with the Space Cadette Records scene. Equal parts gallery space, recording studio, rehearsal space, fringe involvement with South Floridian youths, arts, record store and venue; it was a special time I am happy to have been a part of. Space Cadette released incredibly handsome products.

It was a bygone era where handmade artifacts meant something. And as I have stated many times within these Blast From the Past pages, there's something personal to how I came about this album. I had already owned their split 7" with Timescape Zero and in the early 2000's while enjoying a little more lucre than usual, I went on the eBay website and cast my luck into the wind and searched for this album and found it for sale in its gloriously sealed and gift-wrapped glory! So I bought the fucker!

But then the winds of (as the great Poison Idea put it): "pretentious asshole record collector" took over, I checked eBay again and noticed that the same seller had another copy for sale so shoo-bie-doo, I order it. This one came unsealed and un-gift-wrapped. No sweat, destroying the integrity of the album wouldn't be on my conscience. What a charm!

The album originally came gift-wrapped in Space Cadette paper with a fold-out insert that included a coloring book designed by one of Space Cadette's Galvez brothers. A crayon was inserted in the cranny of the raised jewel case. Awesome. So yeah, I have both on my shelves and I am not opening up the sealed one.

And the music, my god the music. It is exactly what I remembered from those hectic days of local music in the South Floridian mid-90's. Loud, intricate, artistic, uncompromising. To ground it in the time period, think Quicksand and Helmet with elements of traditional jazz, sprechgesang and the creepiness that is inherent to kids who know their way around a sound board.

But let's keep it clean, the New Times is after all, a family-friendly publication. Ed Matus performed vocals and guitars, Anthony Ferry-Lucas fiddled the bass with vocals on a few tracks, John Lopez drummed it out with an ad hoc army of guests including Lupe Perea on sax, Bo on spoken words and the Space Cadette army behind the visuals.

What we have here is a great mix of hard-edged songs that live within the realms of the aforementioned harder-edged rock alongside instrumental compositions where these guys do not show off. And it is a conscious decision on their behalf. Of the fourteen tracks listed, only ten are named and rightly so. The remainder need not names, they need capable sound systems. It goes from the tropical nuances of "Cinnamon Coffee Ice Cream" to the hardcore of "Armor" to the indie-hate of "Take the Stand." And no, everything's not okay, everything's not alright, but somehow it still is. Wow? Yeah, wow.

A purely South Florida product of its time that holds the test of time. I can't honestly say that for many other folks out there and it is not bias at the door, this truly was a special time in local music that still makes sense to me. I hope it does to you as well.

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