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How to Play the Keytar without Irony

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Kent Lambert started Roommate in 2002 after his roommate dared him to write a song. The result was RP (Forget the Metaphors,) a song about River Phoenix, which became a big hit in Belgium. So, Lambert turned Roommate into a full group with a rotating cast and released a few albums including the Celeb EP, Songs the Animals Taught Us, We Were Enchanted, and a few vinyl only releases on various labels. Roommate is currently recording their next album, but I thought I’d share some exerts from We Were Enchanted.

Lambert writes dark, apocalyptic songs with stark atmospheres, both lyrically and musically. Roommate’s songs rarely stray from a pop realm, but they stretch the form by bringing in unlikely sounds or almost disfiguring melodies. At times, he repeats an unsettling sound or disconcerting vocal line against a brighter or more mellifluous counterpoint. Much of Roommate’s sound is accomplished by combining acoustic and electronic sources. I really think they do it better than almost anyone else: 8-bit, coarse digital beeps and banjos sound like natural partners, and bassoons with swelling synthesizers never feel anachronistic. Lambert primarily plays the keytar, but he has included flutes, violas, Theremins, saws, vibraphones and strange analog machines along with traditional rock instruments. He has even featured instruments he invented. And yet, the arrangements never seem contrived or flamboyant. Lambert focuses every sound and every word into a singular, linear composition.

I’m having a hard time picking out three songs to feature here, but I recommend you check out Roommate further.  This is definitely music that should be heard on something better than mp3’s.  The top link has a lot of content, here’s their myspace and here is a link to a review by Coke Machine Glow.  Kent Lambert is also an accomplished video maker, although the video here is Kenny Reed and shot by Ben Popp.

Roommate – Day After, New Steam, Tea Leaves