EaViL was a sound and vision duo I founded and operated with N.VI. We released four EPS: Le Miroir, Phantasmic Seam, Ardilla Arias and Black Queen’s Beads. We shared many adventures and expressions throughout Chicago.
Les Fleurs du Mal is a compilation of EaViL’s work. This album is out (CD, digital) on October 30, 2018, and released by NO PART OF IT. Each track was pored over and fit into place by Arvo and myself. This ensured a place for highlights as well as unreleased music.
Here is my track-by-track commentary:
01 Calling All Boys / The live debut was made at the Flesh Hungry Dog Show. This queer music night took place at the Jackhammer. We began the night posing with the fetish items with Julie Fab. The band before us did a cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.” Bless their hearts. We were there to balance things out. There was something empowering to be singing something so FLIRTatious and provocative. Calling on and calling out boys. It’s vitally important to not change the genders when doing covers. In our case, it wasn’t necessary.
02 Archer Station / Living between the orange line stop and McKinley Park was scenic and inspiring until it wasn’t. We got to make a lot of noise and shake the building rehearsing and recording. This was a fun time inviting people over, drinking and watching terrible music videos.
03 Black Queen’s Beads / Edwina the muse and black cat on the cover was a gift in every sense. She could not be resisted and is as pure as they come. We began performing a much different version that we played at Artec Festival. This version was sharpened and pointy. Patsy (her sister) already had her anthem, so now it was time to shine a light on Eddy.
04 Exquisite Shroud / Inappropriate heterosexual dreams with inspiration by Tippi Hedren. Red and Read. We were doing more work digitally so this was a marrying of our working methods.
05 Luxurious Foam / Squeaky-clean. This was often the first song in our sets and always a pleasurable exorcize.
06 MCK Squirrels (Live) / After a day spent grave-hopping at Bachelor’s Grove, I followed Arvo to his Delirious Insomniac Freeform Radio Show. N.VI met us there and we were interviewed and played a live set. We spoke of dreams and future intentions. One of those is realized with this compilation. This was one of the tracks we performed that night. It was nice to revitalize one of our first songs on the airwaves.
07 Reverse Daydream (Wrecked Receptors) / Reinvented as we were recording for Ardilla Arias. This is the very first EaViL composition and probably has the most distinct versions. We were finding our own way after the dissolution/graduation of The Electric Set.
08 Cerebral Patsy (MeowMix) / Growing extra fur, this demanded to be captured in its evolved version. The muse and namesake cat emerged from her box carrier and turned the place on its head. We had performed yet another version on Chic-A-Go-Go. Once you add Unique Thrift Store megaphone toy madness, there is no turning back.
09 Lethargica / Confronting demons and destruction in the black light. Funny little toys make the best sounds. This was the soundtrack to a constant battle.
10 Dolleyes / The dolly on the cover of Phantasmic Seam was an unexpected birthday gift. This would be her confession if she had a voice. She never did tell us her name.
11 Stained Glass Symptomatic / Cathartic to record and perform. It will probably always be my favorite.
12 Silver Fever (Shiny Eaten Mercury) / An alternative to the version that was released. We had to silversmith to filter out poisons and impurities. It would be a feel-good dance song if only it were 1852.
13 Victrola Caves / Recorded at my dad’s home studio. The lyrics and music were written on the spot. I’ve never been able to find the words again. It will only exist here.
14 One More Chance / Slated for a number of projects and not released. Nico’s Drama of Exile is such a great album. We had temporarily expanded the band to outside input, then it contracted again.
15 Regal Zone / We only performed this opening for Glass Candy. Their lead singer, Ida No complimented it. It was brought about by a longtime idolization and appreciation for Siouxsie Sioux.
16 Automatic (Soft Serve vs. EaViL) / Such a special song. Soft Serve invited us to open for her at Heaven Gallery. That would be our very first show as EaViL. Since she and I are diehard Prince fans, we would often sing-along at the top our lungs to this and other favorites. We thought it would be fun to do a collaboration for the show. It was a segue between our sets. We recorded this just days before show time. This was a moment that set everything else in motion. The recording and performance were delightful and outrageously fun.
17 Strap-On / RIP Vanity. I love this PMRC Filthy 15 winner. What could be better than a woman’s perspective of (putting it in) a man’s place? This was the last note we signaled live. The final song of the final show. I was honored when Kristian Hoffman (Lydia Lunch, Klaus Nomi, James White + The Blacks) had listened to and quoted it back to us.
Arvo (NO PART OF IT) had this to say about the project:
EaViL was a simultaneously timid and unwieldy odd couple of queer synth-pop outsiders. For ten years, E. Al Dente and N. Vilches released home-made CDRs in EP format, almost always containing one or two cover songs.
The two as a unit were either indifferent or untoward regarding the unspoken obligations of your average musical acts, while still maintaining a sort of resolute hermetic diligence in terms of promotion, regardless of their intentions. There are no overwrought affectations, no “ersatz bad boy” aesthetics, no self-conscious posturing, no Machiavellian bullshitters, and no obnoxiously ambitious go-getters here. Rather, in the place of any particular over-arching gimmick, is a general “take it or leave it” tone to the work, which is brimming with a sense that the listener is being welcomed as a guest into the artists’ home; and with it, the kind of spiraling raw inspiration mixed with studio-rat isolation vibes that so many of us crave. Nevertheless, the audio/visual performances of this yin/yang dynamic were nothing less than over-stimulating (there are a number of music videos on youtube that were used during live sets).
What at first rose out of the ashes of membership in a precociously noisey Indian Jewelry related band, The Electric Set, was a series of modest, yet earnest and gentile nods to the history of performance art, as well as Italo disco, among other things. Odd masks, warped videos of Diana Ross, with lyrics about EaViL’s cats (“Patsy” and “Edwina”), Alfred Hitchcock movies, their south side Chicago stomping ground (McKinley Park), or “Tarantula Juice” and other surrealismo, permeate the lo-fi synth soundscapes, which at times just happen to tip-toe similar territory as wide-ranging as BeNe GeSSeRiT, Atari Teenage Riot, Giorgio Moroder, or Le Forte Four.
Initially, EaViL were an all-analog group, slowly evolving to embrace laptop technology. During their tenure, they performed on the famed “Chic-A-GoGo” public access TV show, were featured in Mark Solotroff’s (Bloodyminded, Intrinsic Action, Bloodlust label) “Autosuggestion” live series, and opened for popular “electro-glam” duo Glass Candy, among other ventures, but as far as we at NO PART OF IT are concerned, their collective musical candle went out too early.
“Les Fleurs du Mal” is a kind of bittersweet posthumous anthology of favorite tracks and alternate versions, including some highlights from an unreleased/unfinished album called “DeciMaL” for your personal enjoyment. The digital download contains more than twice as much material, with hidden bonus tracks– A smattering of more experimental dimensions from the outfit, not to mention some particularly deconstructed covers of Prince, Yaz, and Siouxsie.
(BTW: Here is the vocalist’s book with Stella Castellucci, the harp player on an obscure Peggy Lee record called “Sea Shells”)