By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
As of November 30, 2006, Voyager II was still sending dispatches from the most unknowable depths of our outer solar system. Damaged by radiation, battered by asteroidal debris, it continues its inexorable journey in the vacuum between this galaxy and the unfathomable next.
Here on Earth, we aren't quite so lucky. The adventurous Minneapolis three-piece, who explored as many cerebral and structural boundaries as the unmanned space probe with which they share their name, has sadly ceased functioning. But what Voyager left behind them was a celestial map all its own, one delineated by arrhythmic time signatures, baroque synth melodies, overcrowded basement shows, and sweaty fans by the dozen.
"It arose naturally," says drummer Seth Rosetter of Voyager's perplexing, unclassifiable sound. "It wasn't planned. It was a weird mix, the three of us, and how we played together. It was hard to adapt to what Jon was doing. And really, his voice is the overarching theme."
The Jon to which he refers is not guitarist Jon Coe, who sits beside Rosetter picking at a Hard Times scone, but Jon Kuder, the founder, keyboardist, and principal songwriter of Voyager, who disbanded the group with his departure from the Twin Cities earlier this year. Beginning in 2006, Coe and Kuder spent six months and more refining their signature sonic presence before adding Rosetter and venturing into live performance.
Of their lengthy germination, Rosetter says simply, "The songs are really hard."
Their songs, which are a chilling mix of surgically precise keyboard progressions, thwacking drums, and pink noise, are largely Kuder's brainchildren, and while Rosetter and Coe were alike in their listening and organizational habits, Kuder took a savant's approach to composition. Like the birth of Athena, Voyager's music was a seeming act of parthenogenesis.
"Jon Kuder didn't listen to music," says Coe. "Not really."
Rosetter agrees, but offers two caveats. "He told me that the only two things worth listening to were Bach and the Beach Boys."
"When it came to music," adds Coe, "it was about playing, and he would record. He didn't really listen."
In the Twin Cities, the DIY community has become such a hotbed of luminous and voluminous musical engagement that it's becoming harder and harder to call it an underground. At the tender ages of 20, 21, and 23, Rosetter, Coe, and Kuder became wunderkind prodigies. They became active agents of the basements, warehouses, and gallery spaces that make up the DIY community, and found themselves in the gracious care of veterans like Jon Nielsen (Knife World, Synchrocyclotron) and Grant Cutler (Lookbook).
"It's everything," says Coe of the help and support they found. "People never asking for money, just wanting to help and to see the record get made."
With the help of Nielsen and Cutler, the album was made. And though it currently sits in stasis, Coe and Rosetter insist that it will see the light of day. So, like many of the discoveries wrought by that intrepid, space-bound widget, we'll simply call the album "Classified Information."