'North' description: North is the essential collection of avant-folk songs by NYC recording artist Carmen Borgia. It is an almanac for watchful and upbeat travelers; a documentary roadtrip by Greyhound, Chevy, train and rocket. Clever, sweetly sung lyrics are woven into varied and imaginative arrangements. Borgia is a fan of contrasts; 'All You Really Need' is at first blush a pulsing and happy song, the kind of thing you would play loud on a long drive with the windows open. The lyrics come into focus as the song unfolds: 'All you really need is a dollar and a dream', a slogan from a lotto ad. Borgia happily sings out that you shouldn't believe everything they tell you as the guitar, bass and ukulele swing him along. Some of the songs are simple and sweet, such as 'The Whistle Blows', 'Floating' and 'Jupiter'. There are some perverse twists like the throwaway intro 'Introitus' and the faux techno hit 'Buzzkill'. 'Domenic Rom' and 'Slim' earn the CD it's parental advisory sticker with a bit of good-natured profanity. Woe to the parent who let's their child hear 'Domenic Rom' with the zippy, beer barrel beat and the inexplicable couplets, which owe a clear debt to 'Old Joe Clark'. 'Slim' apparently references a famous Professor Longhair riff in an ode to that troubled and troublesome friend many of us seem to depend upon a bit too much. To describe the songs makes it seem a mixed bag, but to hear the CD in a listen is to go on a pleasant and thoughtful journey from loss to redemption. In all it's a solid and inspired musical debut. Borgia wrote most of the songs on 'North' and sings them all; he plays quite a few of the instruments, steel string guitar, ukulele, musical saw and the occasional accordion. There are also some notable contributions: Pat Donahue, Tuba; Brian Dewan, synthesizer and zither; Doug Skinner, ukulele and melodica. David Bell & Alison Davy provide some tasteful vocal backings. A tip of the hat goes to San Francisco player Ed Summerfield who adds lot of heart to the project with driving bass, varied guitars and electric sitar. Carmen Borgia Bio: Raised in Newark, Ohio, a small, working-class town east of Columbus, Carmen Borgia spent his childhood taking things apart; bikes, lamps, lawn mower engines, a frog (biology class), telephones, stereos, and his car. This predilection is not incidental to his music, which describes some personal disassembly in search of user serviceable parts. As a teenager he ran a recording studio in his bedroom and hosted tapings where friends would gather to write, perform and produce recordings of a fictional radio station complete with town meetings, call-in shows and commercials. His parents ran an Italian restaurant with a live piano player who knocked out American standards while the wine-warmed patrons sang along; here he was occasionally compelled to sing 'The Impossible Dream' against his will. His formative musical passions weaved between musical theater and Frank Zappa. While attending the University of California in San Diego, he got his mind blown by the incredible variety of music that exploded in the early 80s, and he became a DJ at the school radio station, KSDT. He took in new wave, progressive jazz, punk, rock and folk without becoming identified with any one genre. Past projects have included Some Ambulants in San Diego, The Secret Sons Of The Pope in San Francisco, and Orson Welk in NYC. Other interests include sound, audio and things that make noise. If in the course of writing a song he gets stuck, he will likely pick up an unfamiliar instrument, devise a soundscape, or tweak up one of the recording studios he uses. Along the way he has composed music and created sound designs for numerous theatrical productions, much of it at the Western Stage in Salinas, California. Premieres include 'East of Eden' and 'Something Wicked This Way Comes'. He has sound designed and/or mixed many film and video projects, from the ragged DIY sonics of DV documentaries to some very cool indy film projects. His mixes have played at the Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca and Berlin film festivals as well as the Sundance Channel, the Independent Film Channel and PBS. In his day job he is the chief mixer at DuArt Film & Video in NYC where he crafts sound designs for independent film producers of all stripes.
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