Eliza & the Organix Present Future Dreams
Brooklyn Indie Weaves a Musical Tapestry
Photographer: David Moriya
Among the genrefication in New York City, the city is filled with artists that are being priced out by the real estate business and the cost of living there is still a large community of musicians that have been able thrive and entertain the normies at the endangered music venues that are fighting to stay open. I just gave a listen to Present Future Dreams Part I by Eliza & the Organix and I can say it is very smooth album. It’s a subtle anomaly of jazz, blues, latin, rock and other genres which the Organix seamlessly blend styles on. The album is actually a five track EP that is the first half of a pair, the second half of the collection, Present Future Dreams Part II, is planned to be released later this year.
Most of their music is groove based. Their track “Blameless” has a latin feel as does “Trouble” which is more staccato until it breaks into a smooth chorus. The Organix know how to contrast musical sections to keep things interesting.
In addition, front person Eliza Waldman has a flare for guitar improvisation in the studio and live. Because of this, The Organix are able to incorporate extensive jams into their live shows. I have seen the Organix play live in Brooklyn and the musical ad-lib added spontaneity to their show. “Trouble” might be a definitive specimen of the Organix ability to deliver a song and jam on it. It has that Curtis Mayfield retro urban sound with a crybaby pedal. Waldman uses effects sparingly, she likes to play clean most of the time.
The Organix have interesting instrumentation on the album with Kristen Tivey on alto sax, keys and backing vocals, Marlee Newman on trumpet and Matt Soares on vibes. Their rhythm section is solid with John Gergely on drums and bass players Stephen Cleary and Will Carbery. I found out about the Organix from Gergely when we work working on a musical project for an ACLU fundraiser. He is a very well schooled percussionist that was able to extract rhythmic details from my most intuitive and quirky musical statements. He knows his shit.
Like many good bands, the Organix didn’t pop up overnight and Waldman explained that what she was originally striving for back in college was a sound somewhere between the bands Morphine and Cake.
“Me and my sax player/keyboardist Kristen met freshman year of college, which was almost 11 years ago now!” said Waldman. “We played jazz together at Vassar College and have been playing together since then. We played under the name Eliza and the Organix in college with a much rougher setup and sound, but the band in its current iteration with our longtime drummer John Gergely started around four years ago.”
Jazz elements are obviously on Present Future Dreams Part I. The horn arrangements on “When I Call You” are notable. Waldman told about the Organix writing process as well. As a singer songwriter most of the time Waldman would bring a song to the table and see what the band could add, but more recently for Present Future Dreams Part II that process has been reversed with some songs. More recently the band will come up with music and Waldman springboards off of the others. Songwriting is at the core of the Organix’s music.
“Many of my songs I think of more as poems than as straightforward song lyrics, in that they have layers of meaning and are about a lot of things all wrapped up together,” Waldman stated.
“Tapestry In Blue,” the final track on the album, seems to be the center piece that balances out the mix. It’s longer than most of the other tracks on the album and breaks the groove based formula of the rest of the album. The song is very melodic with sad overtones and a nice chorus that sticks in your head. Waldman is able to demonstrate an array of subtle vocal devices. The cut also has a lot of interesting ornamentation. Even though The Organix are great at the groove based song structure I would like to see them write things more in this fashion, it really brings the best out in them.
“I’m very proud of how this song turned out,” said Waldman. “I was playing around a lot at the time with writing an ambiance, creating a scene, with more going into place and feel than a linear narration. I love the way we wove in synth and vibes parts, like ribbons weaving in and out of the tapestry- sort of a musical representation of the phrase ‘tapestry in blue.’ I think really it’s a song about melancholy, coming to a point in your life where you look back at the past, and memories that are woven in, and all of it is a bit faded- and you think, how did I get here. A lot of the lyrics are bits and fragments – memories and other things all tied in together – and create this melancholy sense that you can’t hold onto the past or even make sense of it, that it’s all just part of the ambiance now, assimilated into the present in some form or another.”
Waldman also explained the Organx’s plans for 2018.
“So this album, Present Future Dreams, is our second full-length. We’re releasing it in two parts; the first half came out last October, the second half is coming out this spring (fingers crossed). I like to think of it as a bold choice about how to release an album- we were thoughtful about it, about how we live in an age of short sound-bites and social media that has to be bang bang bang!, fast and engaging. And we had previously released a full length in 2012 (The Organix Experience), and then an EP in 2014 (Orange Moon Soon). And I thought, why not release it in two parts? Break it up like a story. We did a little tour last October in support of the first half, we’ll do a tour in the spring in support of the second half. We’re doing a video shoot in April and are going to release a video before the second half comes out. And then we’ll press it and have it available as a full-length.”
So look for rubber chicken being run over with a tire when you google Present Future Dreams. Waldman gives us her analogy of the image.
“’Dreams being run over the tire of life’, as I’ve sometimes jokingly referred to it. Some people have seen it as dark, but I see it more as a joke and a wry nod to my own melodramatic tendencies and the millennial quarter life crisis- there’s a very real feeling I’ve seen in myself and my friends in our late 20’s of wondering if we’ve accomplished what we ought to have by now and whether it all turned out ok- whether we turned out ok.”
The rubber chicken does “reinflate” however, I guess a Phoenix would be a little ostentatious. Every generation has its it’s issues to write songs about.