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American Analog Set and Eyelight
Sapphire Supper Club
54 North Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL
August 16, 1999

Bathed in cool blue and purple lights, the American Analog Set performed an hour-long set of blissful, quiescent music. Like its predecessors Galaxie 500 and Low, the Texas-based quintet make contemplative music similar in mood to the tired, restless feeling of having stayed up all night. Hearing them live is comparable to the reward of watching the comforting sunrise. Special thanks goes to Park Avenue CDs, who handed out free passes for this show and helped promote a somewhat obscure but talented band that probably would have otherwise skipped Orlando on their tour schedule.

The mellow, fluid rock of the American Analog Set recalls the Velvet Underground circa the third, self-titled album. The singer/guitarist [liner notes don’t give their names] replaced the abrasive voice of Lou Reed with his own understated, indie-rock falsetto. Additionally his words, though very low in the Sapphire’s sound mix as well as on their own CDs, gave an emotional impression similar to the Velvets’ most introspective record. The keyboardist played accompanying chords on both a Farfisa organ and an electric piano. Her textures were best expressed on the bouncy “A Schoolboy’s Charm.”

Most drummers love to rock out, however, American Analog Set’s drummer kept the beats to a minimum, playing often with brushes. He was phenomenally tight and crisp, and at just the right volume for the ambient music. He quickened the pace for “Magnificent Seventies”—one of the catchiest tunes from From Our Living Room to Yours—and slowed it down for “Don’t Wake Me” without losing his groove. A second guitarist played the tambourine on “Magnificent Seventies” and lead guitar on a handful of other songs, but spent most of the show watching from the side of the stage. The group refused to clutter up its sound with excess performance. For “A Good Friend Is Always Around,” the bassist set his instrument down and picked up a handheld percussive shaker. He performed with his back to the audience for the majority of the show, standing as still as a statue.

The phrase “less is more” could be applied to Orlando’s Eyelight as well as to American Analog Set. I caught about half of the opening set from Eyelight, Jehn Cerron’s one-woman project that has been nominated for the Orlando Music Awards in the Experimental category. Eyelight consists only of Cerron’s voice and a microphone running through a grab bag of guitar-effects pedals. She would loop certain phrases to serve as backup to her wistful lyricism. Tonight, rather than create layer upon layer of sounds, she kept the sounds to a minimum. Unfortunately, Eyelight’s performance this evening was short; I could have listened for at least twice as long. Next time I won’t miss the first half.

Originally published as “Understated Charm” on the Orlando Weekly website on August 26, 1999.