What's Their Story?

No Mail Days are Sad Days (Cosmo K. Records)

The Helgeson Story

By Tim Roberts

Meld is such a fine word two or more distinct entities touching at a seamless point and, paradoxically, losing themselves in each other. Aside from its Spockian connotations, you can say it and feel your tongue caress the front of your palate, like spreading the last bit of frosting on a cake. Feel it reverberate in your throat.

And hear it done well musically in No Mail Days are Sad Days from The Helgeson Story.

Made from former members of The Evolving Tadpoles, The Rainbow Girls and Month of Sundays, The Helgeson Story is a band that obviously (but not surprisingly) operates in stealth mode in their home town, yet manages to have fans in Germany. You may not see them pack a local club to the grouting, but, according to their press materials, an independent filmmaker wants to use a track from No Mail on an upcoming release. So what's their story?

You can find that answer in the first three tracks, all of which exemplify the Helgeson experience: the melding of the spacy reverb wall-of-sound pop from more than thirty years ago with irregularly-syncopated rhythms, vocals moaned from the darkest places of the heart, and last decade's jangly guitars. It's a sound that squeezes much of what was heard over the last three decades and lets the nectar drip through the fingers.

Think of the lonely reverb you heard at the opening of each Twin Peaks episode and you'll have an idea of how No Mail begins with "Marsona," which then segues into "Silver Bells. . ." with the a blast of snow from a dead television channel. The theme of edging close to success and good intentions gets a painful exploration in "It's Time We Forgive Pete Rose," while the closing track, "If Everyone Would Just Calm Down," offers a sparkling waltz that glides into direct four-four pop as a guitar solo fades into a forlorn echo. A final, unlisted track blasts the television snow back at us as the sad reverb solo guitar from "Marsona" returns to complete the recording.

With the sound of dead TV as an invocation and benediction, listening to No Mail Days Are Sad Days completely in a single sitting is much like zoning out with late-night TV as you're slouched on the couch with your thumb on the remote. The disparate programs seem to form an anarchic, free-associative storyline as the channels zip by. They meld, and somehow they tell the story of what we want, where we want to go, what we want to be, and what we've lost.

The Helgeson Story just might be our story.