“We take off our wrappers
bunch ourselves together
separating blood from plastics
our hearts from paper”
New York City public school teacher Bob Gaulke has an alter ego by night: versatile musician and artistic collaborator. The Bronx songwriter grew up with the first wave of post-punk. Admiring the likes of John Cale, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and Caetano Veloso, Gaulke’s eclectic sound incorporates Brazilian and French currents with a whiff of ska. ENKA, his latest offering, presents a dazzling display of jazz horns and piano, tropicalia, and bright chorus is a breath of fresh air and hope in the fog of gloom. We hear the new wave elements of The Colourfield, The Monochrome Set, and The Selecter, with the rich production styles of 90s-era Beck, and the poetic stylings of Lou Reed.
ENKA‘s sparse lyrics throughout operate as an elegant, minimal stream-of-consciousness anchor for the controlled chaos of jazz noodling. Opening with “Genki”, which sounds like a lost Lalo Schifrin track for a 70s film, the album follows with the sultry “Doublings”, a bluesy Lynchian number. “Running” shifts into a ballad with a psychedelic breakdown, “Worst Cliché” has a ska influence, “Disappoint Mgmt” ducks back into pure blues with a Tony Joe White style of delivery, bursting into a bright chorus of female backup singers. “Disposable” moves into 70s soundtrack guitars, with a Colourfield-style chorus; “Overbored” opens with a sick Artie Shaw style drum solo and sinister guitar work; the closing track, “Skilled Passivity” is more psychedelic in nature.
Gaulke is as prolific in his output as he is eclectic with influences. “I’ve got about 40 albums mostly complete on my hard-drive and I hope to continue releasing mini-albums several times a year for the foreseeable future,” he says. Gaulke is a regular collaborator on NYC stages with Gil Oliveira, Martin Scian, Matt Carrillo, Kevin Cerovich, Emilia Cataldo, Peri Mason, Suely Mesquita, Richard Von Sturmer, and Pavlo Terekhov.
Enka is out now.
Listen and stream here
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