8X8 is the unique and mystical collaboration between Lane Steinberg (New York, US) and Alex Khodchenko (Kiev, UKR). The two have never met in person and have never spoken. Indeed, they would be mostly unable to do so, for they do not share a common language and must rely on online translation programs to communicate. This aside, they have established an effective method of working, trading files back and forth through the internet. Their aesthetic kinship is such that the work flows freely between them and they often anticipate each others comments and suggestions before they are made. The music can be described as psychedelic pop, not in a cliched sense of obvious stylistic reference points, but in its kaleidoscopic vision. Their influences, though easy to glean, fall secondary to the strength of the compositions and their performances.
'Azalea's Room', their 2nd collection, has been two years in the making. The title track typifies the kinetic energy of their process. At first, Alex had a rough track which was labeled, "Azia Brew". Lane then turned this into 'Azia's Brew", which transformed into "Azalea's Brew", before settling into its final incarnation. The song, with it's Arabic sounding melody, speaks of a seaside refuge belonging to a mysterious woman. What follows are songs with far-flung subjects such as star-crossed werewolves, cold war-era spies, a retiring obstetrician, a person trying to erase their identity the internet...not exactly the usual rock n' roll subjects.
Nor is the music anything typical, with its sweeping melodies, majestic cadences, and seamless melding of rock drive with classic and classical influence. Besides the three B's (Beatles, Beach Boys, Barrett), there are also progressive snatches that recall the heyday of Yes and Procol Harum,
"Azalea's Room" closes out with a cover of 'Tears of Rage', the only song written by Bob Dylan and Richard Manuel, which first appeared on the Band's first album, 'Music From Big Pink'.This is the only track with a guest musician (underground legend, R. Stevie Moore, plays bass).The song is a prefect coda to the album and an aesthetic touchstone to everything 8X8 is about - impressionistic, yet penetrating lyrics wedded to a grand melody and delivered with a gentle groove you can turn off, relax, and float downstream to.
...from the ongoing transatlantic e-mail collaboration between New York & Kiev, Ukraine.