When Dameun Strange was a little kid, he would lie awake night after night watching a shadowy figure of a man wearing a fedora whisper to him in his bedroom. He would strain as hard as he could to understand what the specter was saying, but he could never quite make it out. And then the specter would be gone.
Adam Rangel was in high school when he woke up one night, face to face with a blue woman in a flowing dress floating above his bed. What he recalls most distinctly was her face being horribly mangled. His sister later told him of seeing this same blue woman walk across the yard and peer at her across their deck, slowly exposing the same mangled face. "She explained it just the way I saw it," Rangel recalls.
God damn, I love ghost stories!
So there was no better place in this world or the next for me to be on a recent Sunday morning than a corner booth at Hell's Kitchen (appropriately enough), where the ghost stories were flowing like so much ectoplasm. I sat down for a light brunch with Rangel (more commonly known as local spitter See More Perspective) and Strange (believe it or not, that is his birth name) to discuss their eerie new collaboration, Strange Perspective, but it took a good half hour for us to order as one spooktacular tale after another took precedence over the menus in front of us. These guys are flat out obsessive, or should I say possessed, when it comes to paranormal experiences—their own or others'. Their debut album, The Lost Souls Boys Choir in Jazz Funeral, a creepy cacophony of hip hop, electronica, and New Orleans jazz, absolutely oozes with otherworldly influence.
Rangel refers to their music as "geek pop." Take a peek at the "band interests" on the Strange Perspective Facebook page and you'd have to agree: ghosts, aliens, reincarnation, ancient Egypt and indigenous America, pyramids, robots, spaceships, séances, astral projection, beer, and football.
"If you really think about it, it's really nerdy," Rangel says. "It's poppy, but it's nerdy because we're talking about ghosts and jazz funerals."
But like true geeks anywhere, push that nerdiness far enough and it will eventually come full circle to be an ironic sort of cool. That's what you have with The Lost Souls Boys Choir in Jazz Funeral.
Much of the music is based on chord structures from old New Orleans jazz tunes, which Strange updates with a heavy dose of hip hop while still keeping the jazz funeral feel. "Ghost Parade," which Rangel claims conveys a sort of "morbid ecstasy," lopes along drunkenly with muted horns bellowing behind a Super Mario Bros.-flavored keyboard loop, whereas "Blue Phantoms" sets the mood with a very bluesy/gospel vintage organ until Rangel unleashes his rapid fire rhymes about unearthly visitors.
Rangel, a local hip-hop artist on the Tru Ruts label and owner of Luv 'N' Dedication music studio in northeast Minneapolis, began collaborating seriously with Strange, a rather eclectic local composer, pianist, and saxophonist, last January. And they quickly gelled on their fascination with the paranormal.
"The first session we had we were like, 'Jazz Funeral!' I realized I didn't want to stop making Halloween music," Rangel says, alluding to his remixing and re-releasing of local hip-hop artist Guante's album El Guante's Haunted Studio Apartment. "What really drew us together was our spirituality and our approach to music."
And it seems to be working for them. Strange Perspective recently won the local Spoutstock contest with their rendition of "Jack's Lament" from the Tim Burton cult classic The Nightmare Before Christmas, which they will perform at their upcoming Halloween CD-release party.
"I think our approach is really different. We are just the type of characters and styles that stick out. That can be good and bad," Rangel says. "We bring this lively, fun, jazzy thing, and it works for us, but some people don't get into it because that's not what the scene is into. But a lot of people will dig the Halloween thing. They dig the dark, but it's still lighthearted and has a sense of humor."
Strange echoes that sentiment succinctly: "For people who are a little bit strange and like to dance, they'll like the album."
STRANGE PERSPECTIVE play a CD-release show with Guante, Mayda, and Sideshow Oddities, featuring ghost stories by Dave Mondy and burlesque by Giza Sangria, on SATURDAY, OCTOBER 30, at HELL'S KITCHEN; 612.332.4700