The Saxophones, the Oakland-based husband-and-wife duo of Alexei Erenkov and Alison Alderdice, recently made the slightly unusual decision to re-visit a track they put out previously on their debut album, 2018’s Songs Of The Saxophones. The track, Singing Desperately, is presented alongside new material as an EP, Singing Desperately Suite. The tracks that make up the EP are all bonded by a concurrent lyrical theme, described by Alexei as, “feeling indifferent to other people’s suffering”. It feels very personal to him, an admittance of his previous emotional obliviousness, and a study on the difficulties of, as Alexei puts it, “my process of waking up”.
The EP begins with the easy obliviousness of the almost lift-music like Prelude, before sliding into the title track; Alexei’s rich vocal accompanied by the steady pulse of a bass-drum and bright electric guitars, as he sings, “you’re thinking of me differently
I’m thinking of myself”. If the title track finds Alexei facing up to his failings, it’s on the gently unnerving dreaminess of Crude Advance that he seems to reach a nadir, “I dream
we live in harmony. It seems you dream differently”. Perhaps the highlight comes in the woodwind driven finale, You Seem Upset; the gentle Leonard Cohen-like guitar, playing out beneath a vocal that sounds almost broken, laced with a failure to be a better man, pained by the act of trying to try, “I promise to myself to act and feel like someone else. But in the morning, I forget. Then I look at you, and you seem upset”. It’s a brave decision to lay your flaws to tape so openly, to admit you have made mistakes and will continue to do so, in doing so The Saxophones create something overwhelmingly honest, and beautifully, sometimes brutally, human.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are The Saxophones?
The Saxophones are primarily me, Alexi Erenkov; my wife, Alison Alderdice; and my good friend, Richard Laws. The project started many years ago as a solo project but I convinced Alison to play drums with me and now we’re a duo. Well, a trio on the records. Richard plays bass on the album and sometimes comes on tour with us.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
The first proper Saxophones show was a house show at the wonderful Crystal Palace in Santa Cruz, California; the home of the legendary James Rabbit. I played nylon string guitar and Alison played a drum set with a hi hat that actually sounded like trash can lids being hit together.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
I love the way music envelops the listener in a mood. I suppose film does the same thing, but making movies is way too hard! Conversely, I’ve never personally felt anything similar when looking at fine art, for example, as I do when listening to music I love.
FTR: What can people expect from The Saxophones live show?
Spoiler alert: No saxophones (for now). We have saxophone and flute samples that weave in and out of our performance (triggered by Alison), but I play guitar and sing. Shows are quiet and meditative affairs; I think they’re similar to our recorded music in that way.
FTR: What’s next for The Saxophones?
I’m hard at work on a new record and, when it’s done, hopefully we’ll be able to tour more. Our baby is one year old (and both my wife and I have “real” jobs), so it’s been hard to hit the road.
They Listen To…
1. Juniore – A La Plage
2. Randy Newman – I Love LA
3. Dorothy Ashby – Moonlight In Vermont
4. Martin Denny – The Enchanted Sea
5. Herbie Hancock – I Thought It Was You
Singing Desperately Suite is out now via Full Time Hobby. Click HERE for more information on The Saxophones.