Mixing the uncommon pairing of an electric violin and didgeridoo over a blanket of keyboard and drums, Santa Cruz-based Sage and The Chemists released their newest CD, Chemistry, at Santa Clara’s Studio Bongiorno on Dec. 6.
As artist Chris Moon live-painted an image of an eye – almost in her own interpretation of Sage and The Chemists’ eye logo – in the studio’s red room, the band, which recently switched from playing as a duo to a trio with the addition of violinist Ayden Graham, overtook the gallery’s main space, playing the score to an unwritten movie.
With songs that build up, telling a story without words, Chemistry is a selection of nine ballads, skillfully mixing unique, surreal sounds and taking listeners on an adventure through The Chemists’ world.
“[The CD] was laid out by intensity,” said Thomas Sage, who plays the keyboard and didgeridoo. “We have a lot of songs that are really intense on the CD and I spread them out. It was so [the listener] isn’t getting too much intensity all at once. If you listen to the whole CD there’s definitely a form to it.”
Citing White Flower (Track 3) as one of the most meaningful because it “allows me to reach different parts of myself every time I play it,” Sage is quick to point out Puzzle Piece (Track 6) – about girlfriend Lauren Ringelman – and Adrift (Track 1) – for its intensity – are other songs he holds dear. Likewise Graham calls White Flower a favorite. Drummer Nicholas Priess claimed he couldn’t pick just one song, but said he enjoyed the rhythm of Chemistry (Track 2) and found Open Heart (Track 7) to be tricky because “I never want it to end â€¦ it’s a really fun groove to get lost in.”
Although each of the songs on the CD has recently been retooled since Graham joined the band a month ago, “This [CD] represents the beginning – where we’ve come from,” said Sage. “I’m a big believer in growing while doing.”
After playing most of the album, including a few new songs, a limited print of the CD artwork created by Ringelman was raffled off, as was Moon’s painting.
“I had done the drawing for the album art a year ago almost and it’s just kind of been coming together the whole time,” said Ringelman, who wanted the artwork to be very abstract. “I added the graphic design element more recently â€¦ I listed to [Sage’s] first demo CD while I was drawing it so I was trying to channel the music into the art.”
Chemistry can be purchased through www.thomassagemusic.com, CD Baby and iTunes, among other online retailers.