After a recent gig at the Hotel Café, a cozy Hollywood hot spot and the premier music venue for singer-songwriters in Los Angeles, I helped the multi-talented musician Ethan Gold schlep gear out to his car. I followed him into the greenroom through the door marked “Performers Only.” For years I’d always been curious what it looked like in there. Spoiler alert: it’s just a small cramped room filled with amps and guitars in cases. It’s not the room that contains the magic but the artists who pass through.
“Do you have my album?” Ethan asked.
“Not yet,” I admitted a bit sheepishly.
He handed me a copy of Songs From A Toxic Apartment, his deluxe debut CD, as a thank you for my pseudo-roadie duties.
When I arrived home that night, lying on the air mattress in my own toxic apartment, a cockroach-infested pool house in North Hollywood I’d rented for the summer sight unseen, I listened to the CD all the way through while reading the liner notes as Ethan’s voice streamed through my laptop speakers.
My first thought: Wow - This guy is seriously talented.
((photo by Ari Gold))
Ethan wrote every song, sang every line, played every instrument, and engineered and mixed the album himself.
Consciously crafted to take the listener on a journey into a dreamscape, the record is sometimes dark but ultimately redemptive. Songs plays well as a cohesive whole, from the first track, “(Intro,)” we hear Ethan’s tired footsteps and jangling keys turning the lock to his apartment alone late at night. We’re with him through the self-soothing lullaby, “Why Don’t You Sleep?” and hear his vulnerability on “That” (Reprise) a beautifully sparse acoustic track that is quiet, restrained and alive with his breath. On “Nonstop,” Ethan infuses a funky beat with lyrics exploring seedy nightlife in the city and laments another lonely night on “Tonight…” While despair and isolation loom large in his story, the final track, “To Isis Sleeping,” finds Gold emerging from the darkness. He isn’t alone anymore. Gone are the sirens, crows, storms and helicopters looming outside his window. He is enveloped in a cleansing shower, the water raining down on him, washing away the toxicity that had crept into his psyche.
((artwork/design by Sol Sender, Javier Lopez and Ethan Gold))
The aesthetic of the artwork and liner notes add to the experience. From the album cover, the viewer is inside the toxic apartment peeking at Ethan through the peephole as he ascends the stairs. Inside, the wallpaper is peeling; spattered with stains and hung family photos. The lyrics seem scrawled in a frantic hand, eager to capture thoughts born of insomnia and haunting memories.
Ethan’s work has previously appeared in films that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival including Mean Creek (2004) and Adventures of Power (2008,) a quirky heartfelt comedy about air drumming written, directed and starring his twin brother, Ari Gold, for which Ethan composed all of the original music as well as the score.
((photo by Bojana Obradovic))
Accustomed to chronic sleeplessness, Ethan often writes his introspective alternative rock songs “while dreaming or in the altered state of insomnia,” and has been compared to artists like Elliott Smith and Radiohead. His music is layered, emotional, edgy, and restrained.
Friend him here: www.Facebook.com/EthanGoldMusic