Formerly known as Imogene, LA-based Heavy Water Experiments passionately resists the tendency of modern bands to revive sounds of bygone eras. While admittedly taking influence from 60’s and 70’s genres such as psychedelic and progressive rock, this is a group who strives to break new ground according to an avant-garde or art rock sensibility. One of the ways HWE achieves this is through unique instrumentation, such as the use of an 8-string bass along with a regular 4-string bass, keyboards, and drums. However, the band never relies on this approach as a marketing gimmick since it also incorporates electric and acoustic guitars in the usual way.
The sound of the band is eclectic and can range from a dark, heavy quality to a mellower, acoustic-oriented vibe. Certain tracks might seem to fit well in the stoner rock category, for example, while others could be deemed indie rock or some other current genre. In the past, the band has used marriage characterizations such as “Pink Sabbath, “ “Doorphine,” and “Radio Queens of the Stone Head.” These are intended to underscore the notion that HWE neither sounds like one particular band nor like any specific combination of bands. Accordingly, HWE has been compared to a vast number of past-to-present artists, and yet there has never been a tendency toward one or even a few in particular.
So far, HWE has enjoyed a laudable degree of progress while still remaining independent. To date, the band has toured the US and the UK (twice) as well as performing a handful of shows in Holland and Belgium. Locally, the band has played a wide range of venues from Spaceland, The House of Blues, and The Viper Room to more acoustic-oriented venues like The Hotel Café, which culminated in being chosen as one of Amoeba Records’ local picks. The band’s debut release has received over 50 enthusiastic reviews internationally, and the album has been accumulating steady international momentum through underground radio airplay and live interviews from DJ’s in the US, UK, Europe, and Australia. Tracks from the album have also appeared on popular American TV shows such as Friday Night Lights, and the band’s promo poster appeared on various sets for an entire season of The OC. The band has also self-organized two underground music festivals in the neighboring Mojave Desert with many notable LA bands performing.
The band is fronted by singer, songwriter, guitarist, keyboardist, bassist, and producer David Melbye—an LA native whose past bands/projects include Ludivine. Fuzz Beloved, and Zanzibar. His creative/artistic partner Roberto Salguero, originally from El Salvidor, plays drums and percussion.
David: vocals, 8-string bass, guitar.
Jane: Rhodes piano, organs.
Seth: 4-string bass.
Roberto: drums and percussion.
"Imogene" (debut full-length CD)
Heavy Water Experiments (new album)
US album review (September 2007)
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Whoa, man, like when does the spaceship come back? This is some way-out there shit, man. I dug it fr...Whoa, man, like when does the spaceship come back? This is some way-out there shit, man. I dug it from the very first listen. Imogene’s eponymous debut is a record
that showcases an interstellar group of tunesmiths that are not that different in vibe from Spacemen 3, before Jay Spaceman became a hopeless junkie. Anyway, someone
please keep those bastards in suits away from these guys because I don’t want to turn on the radio one day (by accident or something) and suddenly hear them on some
“modern rock” station. The only place they should be played is on a college radio station, one that is run by students at a college – not a corporate pretend one;
otherwise they’d be totally ruined and the greatness, the outer-world, magick aura about them will be destroyed. But enough about me, let’s talk about the band: Imogene
is a group of kids who prefer to remain somewhat anonymous, so I’ll keep their IDs on the “QT”. Nonetheless, they really have blown my mind – I swear, I didn’t think
that, except for a small circle of people around the country, there was anyone out there making any truly original contribution to indie rock music – now, of course
if you want to talk about other types of music (experimental; “classical”, et cetera) that’s a different ball of wax, but as far as plain old r & r goes, there has been such a dearth of both sincerity and a sickening amount of derivativity that
passes for “being influenced by…” that when something like this record comes along I must make a big fuss about it – this kind of stuff should be rewarded, in the right kinds of ways – don’t go out there signing big contracts or anything stupid like that. You’ll be sorry, I guarantee it! Ask Leif Garrett or that guy who sang the “Pina Colada Song”. But if you’re truly great and play a great live show the word will spread and then people will start coming to your shows because they want to experience part of the mystique. Besides word-of-mouth, there’s the Internet Factor: to market and sell stuff these days, you really don’t need that much of a distribution network; well, ok, you do, but it’s not one that is going to be controlled
by the syndicate of major labels.
Well, I must confess: I haven’t (yet, anyway) seen Imogene live in concert, so I can’t say what they are like live; the only thing I have to judge them on is this CD and I can say that it has a groovy flavor that lasts and lasts and lasts. I hear bits of Wolfgang Press, Apples in Stereo and a little, tiny bit of Tortoise too.
This will be one to jam to even a year from now. For more insight, check out: http://www.imogene.info
Spain album review (March 2007)
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"This is an ideal album for the skeptics, the pessimists, and those who believe that everything that..."This is an ideal album for the skeptics, the pessimists, and those who believe that everything that came before is better...dark shades that transmit emotion in a grand manner...Imogene is a one-way trip through a psychedelic tunnel...the love children of a marriage between Thom Yorke and Tommy Iommi...a degree of originality only the greatest can pull off."
Belgium Pre-show Interview (December 2006)
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Originating from LA, Imogene was recently in our country performing at PaNique d'O in Mechelen. Thei...Originating from LA, Imogene was recently in our country performing at PaNique d'O in Mechelen. Their psychedelic rock is carried by the unique 8-string bass playing of singer David Melbye. Melbye worked with, among other engineers, Robert Campanella (Brian Jonestown Massacre) and Justin Smith (Black Rebel Motorcycle Club) to achieve the sound of Imogene's debut album. The music of Imogene has been described as '"Doorphine" or '"Radio Queens or The Stone Head" and is excellent for fans of Masters or Reality and Pink Floyd..
"Stonerjazz." "Radio Queens Of The Stone Head." "Doorphine." These are attempts to describe Imogene, a new band from Los Angeles revolving around frontman David Melbye, who played with the power trio Fuzz Beloved in the past. Melbye plays on a bass with four double strings; he is not the only bass player in the band, and he includes on a Fender Rhodes pianist to achieve the innovative psychedelia that's somewhere between..well, let's say "jazz and stoner rock".
Heavy, cracking, squelchy bass lines, dreamy vocals, feathery Fender Rhodes jazz chords. It works wonderfully well. It has been said that David first acquired his 8-string instrument because of owning records by...Manowar! This begs for an explanation..right before the last show of their short European tour..in Mechelen, Belgium:
SL: I just have to know...What's this story about Manowar's 8-string bass?
Melbye: Well, I used to frequent this music store that sold a lot of import and collectors albums, and so sometimes bought music based on the album cover alone. One time I came home with a heavy metal release by Manowar. I heard the 8-string bass for the first time on that album. I was already playing the bass for a couple of years and was impressed by the sound. I didn't find an 8-string that played well until I was a college student..that was an original sixties bass guitar.
Now, I have four of these 8-string instruments..though my love for Manowar has long since cooled off. It didn't have anything to do with their music or with the Viking outfits on their album cover--they just helped me discover the 8-string bass. But you can encounter them elsewhere. For example, the Pearl Jam-song "Jeremy" features an 8-string bass.
SL: Your real musical influences clearly come from a very different corner...
Melbye: You know, the last couple of years I've been listening to (among other things) Italian soundtracks from the sixties: Morriconi, Piccioni, Umiliani, Nicolai. This music isn't just produced and played very well..it's also full of ideas that speak to the imagination. It's like sixties acid rock, but, at the same time, the music is full of orchestral elements: very different instruments play simple parts, but very layered, and so it becomes incredibly catchy. In any case: it's a form of rock music that goes beyond just bass, guitar and drums. And very experimental: pianos recorded through very small speakers or vocals sung along noisy guitar riffs. Things you don't immediately expect. At the same time, there's a sort of classic R&B bass feel underneath it all. You don't see that a lot in American music..a psychedelic interpretation of black R&B and soul.
SL: Like any good psychedelic band, Imogene's sound is very visual. Is that what you're working towards?
Melbye: Absolutely. I have some academic background in the visual arts, but in that sense I think it's important to mention Pink Floyd. I especially love their early works, in which they made some obscure soundtracks for independent films. One of those movies is actually very good: "More" directed by Barbet Schroeder, made in 1969. It's a hippie movie about a young couple with a heroine addiction. Really a product of its time, without any of the dramatic blow-up's that we see so much of now. You get pulled in to their world of addiction. It's without a doubt the most eclectic album by Pink Floyd: from proto-punk/garage tracks..very atypical of Pink Floyd..to African percussion with keyboard noises, with dreamy acoustic material as well. I'd love to get the chance to make a film score, or even a fiction film. We've already made some music videos, and we really like one of them in particular: for the song Sunny Day Child. Other ideas are still on the shelves.
SL: It doesn't seem like a coincidence to me that you're trying to get a foothold in Europe with this music.
Melbye: It's true that Europe is a better market for us, with its rich appreciation of jazz, lots of hard rock roots, and an open (or unbiased) view toward experimentation. For the moment, we're just doing this little tour in England, the Netherlands, and Belgium on our own with our own means. We only started planning this tour a month in advance. We were supposed to open for Hawkwind in London, but it fell through at the last moment. So, it hasn't been easy, but we had a lot of warm response in England, and last night, up in Den Helder, we really rocked a great crowd. Anyway, we hope to come back in April or May with a new record. We'll start recording it as soon as we're back in LA. The band is starting to become an international project. Our drummer Roberto is from El Salvador, and our bass player Bruno is from Ital..and joined the band only one week before we started touring in Europe. There's a good connection between us..we talk about bands and labels a lot, and it's also important to me that we have the same ambitions concerning our own music.
SL: Okay. Suppose you could create your own bill for a festival. Imogene is the headliner, but who opens for you?
Melbye: It's very difficult to link ourselves to other bands. We don't want to have too much to do with revivalist-bands, like Wolfmother, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and many others. That's not the direction we want to go in. But we would have liked opening for Hawkwind. We think that their audience would appreciate us a lot even though it's not a band I have listened to very much in the past. A more contemporary band could be Queens Of The Stone Age I suppose. We also really like the Swedish band Dungen. We often search for psychedelic bands that are compatible with us through myspace..bands that contribute something new and don't just do revivalist stuff. For example, myspace helped us to make contact and play with Dutch band Drive By Wire and Amsterdam-based UK band Absinthe. But our festival stage isn't filled yet, is it? Oh well, you know, opening for Wolfmother would probably be a very good thing for Imogene, but for me we just don't fit together in the bigger artistic picture.
SL: One last question: who are your favorite bass players ever?
Melbye: Well, I'll have to mention Motown-bass player James Jamerson, practically the founder of that R&B-feel. Then there's Jaco Pastorius, who, while overdoing it a little at times, uncovered a lot of possibilities for the electric bass. I love Jack Bruce, John Paul Jones, and the bass you hear with Jimi Hendrix, no matter if he or Noel Redding played it. Oh well, I'll admit it: long ago, in my progressive/metal period (recall Manowar) I seriously got caught up in the bass- playing of bands like Rush. I still feel that Killers by Iron Maiden is a great record. I played those bass lines a lot as a beginner..although I haven't listened to these bands in ages...
US album review (October 2006)
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Here's something that's not your typical "stoner rock" fare--a four-piece band sporting a four-strin...Here's something that's not your typical "stoner rock" fare--a four-piece band sporting a four-string bass, an eight-string bass, keyboards, and drums. Interesting concept, but a lot of two-bassist bands I can think of over the years never really utilized the lineup as effectively as I thought that they could. I mean, think about when King Crimson had the "double trio" lineup--that was some killer two-bass work, and it's my own shortsighted self that stubbornly holds other two-bass lineups to those high standards. Still, it seems that with two basses, you could harmonize bass lines, or have one bass doing one bass line and another one doing something else entirely, but far too often I go to see a band with two low-enders, and they're both playing the same bass line with slightly different tones, and maybe one does a lead or two.
Finally though, I hear a band that does it right. Maybe it's the eight-string bass that makes the difference, I'm not sure, but there's something magical about the sound that comes off of these guys' combined twelve strings. Now first, let me warn you--it's not heavy, at least not in the traditional sense. I mean, I'd say that definitely have some Sabbath records in their collections, but if you're looking for the next Big Business, look somewhere else, cuz this group definitely leans toward the more psychedelic ends of things. The most obvious comparision I can think of is Dead Meadow mixed with Masters of Reality. The bass tones cooked up are thick and fuzzy, and heavily effected at times, and the interplay between them is superbly done. The vocals and keys also play off the bass grooves extremely effectively. These guys have melodies to spare, and often employ harmonies with the vocals that jump out at just the right times. The drum work is somewhat understated, but it's right in the pocket at all times. The ace production pretty much ties it all together into one great package.
I've talked about the sound, but the tunes are sharply written as well. "Sunny Day Child" has a killer bass groove that jumps right out in your face, and brilliantly alternates between major and minor keys. "Wormwood Raindrops" brings in darker, more Floyd-inspired psychedelia, "Not To Be" offers a funky main riff mixed ith quirky keyboard work, and "Quoth i" utilizes a great laid-back repetitive bass groove and an almost shoegazer-inspired chorus. The other tracks are just as strong. My one complaint, and it's a minor one, is that the album does get a bit formulaic during the second half. I'd like to see a bit more experimentation on future releases, but this is a really strong first effort from an up and coming band. I'd recommend it for fans of Brant Bjork, Queens of the Stone Age, Pink Floyd, and Masters of Reality.
US live review (August 2006)
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Thursday, August 24, 2006 Imogene Asleep, AudienceDream! Imogene Ghost of Monkshood August ...Thursday, August 24, 2006
Ghost of Monkshood
David Melbye regrets admitting the role Manowar played in his life to a radio station in Atlanta while on tour. Melbye is the vocalist for the psychedelic L.A. band, Imogene, and while their music is light-years away from Manowar's sound, Manowar is still where Melbye found the 8-string bass.
They were this really tacky 80s metal band that used to dress up in Viking outfits, and the guy in that band played an 8-string bass and when I was a kid I was dazzled by it, Melbye said. That said, I dont take any influence as far as playing from that band, its just how I became acquainted with the instrument.
Imogene is proud of their instruments, and that confidence showed at their performance at the Opolis. Melbye played the 8-string bass in place of a lead guitar, plucking it more like a classical guitar than a lumbering 4 string bass.
"Its really something more in-between a bass and an electric guitar," Melbye said. "I'm playing solos on it, I'm playing around the rhythm section rather than two basses lugging away together on the same riff and creating a bunch of mud."
Jib Colhan also talked up his Fender Rhodes, an authentic keyboard that weighs more than he does. Rather than being washed over on stage like many other keyboards, the warm timbre of the Fender Rhodes stood out and added to a sound that hailed back to psychedelic and proto-punk musicians of the 60s and 70s.
"I find there is a noticeable difference between a real Rhodes and a fake Rhodes, they are minor differences, but they are noticeable," Colhan said of the keyboard, adding that the sound and the look of the keyboard are only part of the appeal. "There is the feel, when you are playing unweighted keys on a plastic keyboard, its definitely not the same feel when you have the big heavy keys to pound on, you can create soft sounds, or pound and create hard sounds."
After the gig, Imogene left for Amarillo, taking along local band Asleep, AudienceDream! who also opened for Imogene and Ghost of Monkshood at the Opolis. It was AAD!s first gig outside of Oklahoma, and with a new album finished and awaiting a fall release, AAD! is ready to start testing other markets.
Imogene found AAD! and Ghost of Monkshood on the internet while looking for bands of their ilk. Though the Opolis crowd was depleted from summer break, the show was solid with AAD! finishing their set with a worthy cover of Width of a Circle and Ghost of Monkshood brandishing their three part harmonies and skilled solos and showed why they are one of the states most promising bands.
"We didn't just want to go out on tour, contacting venues and begging for a gig," Melbye said. "We wanted to network with other psychedelic-type bands, get to know their music, get to know them and create more of an event."
UK album review (August 2006)
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Offering dark and angular guitar shapes Imogene have an fantastically messed-up sound on their self-...Offering dark and angular guitar shapes Imogene have an fantastically messed-up sound on their self-titled album, which finds new ways of using familiar song structures, with the feel of early sub-Pop lurking in the background especially on “Sunny Day Child” and “wasteoids”. Elsewhere “Wormwood Raindrops” has a more laid-back experimental feel, whilst the rest of the album has a stoned groove running through it making for a highly enjoyable and coherent release. (www.imogene.info)
US/Euro album review (August 2006)
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This LA group are a pretty unique bunch, by virtue of their instrumental lineup alone. Imogene has t...This LA group are a pretty unique bunch, by virtue of their instrumental lineup alone. Imogene has two bass players (one playing a four-string, and one playing an eight-string), a drummer, and an electric piano player. So what does that sound like? Well, it's a heavy psychedelic haze of low-end stoner-fuzz grooves that could act as the soundtrack to a 1973 party where a bong (and possibly your Black Sabbath and Pink Floyd records) is the guest of honor. The group displays some serious musical chops throughout these twelve songs, with drummer, in particular, showing some major promise. Singer David Melbye's spacey voice lightly drifts over the musical proceedings, rarely taking the time touch down to earth. Sometimes Imogene's music comes off as unfocused, and the song becomes hard to find amongst all the weedy grooves; but most of the time they just sound like a band that rocks in a unique way, and that's pretty cool.
US Weekly Live Pick (July 2006)
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Some guy just cut you off on the freeway, your PC just froze up again (just like in the Apple commer...Some guy just cut you off on the freeway, your PC just froze up again (just like in the Apple commercial), your car’s mechanic can’t find duplicate the engine problem you’ve been hearing for weeks but bills you just the same. There’s no time for yoga or meditation to calm the nerves as you attempt to merge onto I-25 in peak traffic, but you pull your Imogene CD from its case and let it slowly slide inside your car’s player. The soothing sounds of ethereal vocal vapors fill the space, durgy bass and Sunset Strip rock make it all okay. You can breathe again, which is much better than hyperventilation, especially when driving.
With the backdrop of what seems to be ancient ruins at the end of the earth, the four piece stand stout and statuesque for the photographer. It’s quite fitting, since their sound commands attention while also playing as a canvas for serene fluidity. Like a glass of red wine on a sultry summer day, the addition of keyboards to the line up is both decedent and satisfying on
“Wormwood Raindrops,” off their self-titled album on Intrepid Sound Recordings. With plenty of ‘whaa, whaa’ and distortion, the men use the pedals and harmony well, personifying both a delicate and dirty embrace of rhythm and rock.
To rejuvinate your soul before the weekend, check out Imogene's live show, which is supposed be one of those "even better than the album" kind of experiences. They play this Thursday at the Walnut Room, along with Triplight and Denver's Orbit Service.
US album review (June 2006)
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Imogene (Intrepid Sound) I picked this from the pile because singer David Melbye (ex-Fuzz Beloved...Imogene (Intrepid Sound)
I picked this from the pile because singer David Melbye (ex-Fuzz Beloved) described his group as "Pink Floyd meets Funkadelic"-and the
bio includes comparisons to Kula Shaker, Radiohead, and Happy Mondays. And for once, unique and seemingly unconnected references don't prove red herrings.
This L.A. quartet aren't as funky as Funkadelic, but otherwise they play heavy-groove, late '80s Manchester/Mondays stuff with harsh, intimidating, fuzzy guitar like Dinosaur's J. Mascis and Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood and trebly, mean bass, countered by nicer keyboards. Add some of the trippy acid casualty hangover of Kula with the trancy numbness of Floyd, Verve, and
The Doors (especially on the lighter guitar numbers like "Wormwood Raindrops"), with early '70s organs (Rhodes, Wurlitzers, etc.), and Melbye's far-away vocals, and you have something worthwhile and unusual. Favorite: "Wasteoids," with its gentle "Leave Them All Behind"
Ride harmonies adding another great feature. (http://www.imogene.info)
UK album review (February 2006)
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IMOGENE 'IMOGENE' Last year I had the misfortune of having to review an album by a band called...IMOGENE
Last year I had the misfortune of having to review an album by a band called Toupé who based their lacklustre music around a supposedly unique dual combination of 4 and 8 string bass guitars. The net effect was distinctly underwhelming. Imagine therefore my total lack of excitement and feverish expectation at again being confronted with a brace of basses, once more billed "unique" as outlined in the press release for 4-piece American band IMOGENE.
Fortunately my fears prove unfounded as listening to IMOGENE's eponymous album is a complete pleasure from start to finish. Founder David Melbye describes his band as "Pink Floyd meets Funkadelic" and more contemporaneously as "Radiohead meets Queens of The Stone Age". With 4 such diverse ground-breaking and critically lauded bands cited as the mainstays of IMOGENE's sound the band has much to live up to.
That the confluence of influences succeeds is primarily a result of the quality of the songs coupled with the lithe and supple flow of the bands rhythm section. The mood is predominantly mellow in a stoned psychedelic way but IMOGENE avoid falling into the trap of allowing such a vibe to become a case of style over substance. Not for them endless instrumental work-outs and songs without structure. All 12 of the album's tracks are concise and accessible.
The spectre of grunge also plays its part in IMOGENE's sound with acts like Nirvana, Soundgarden and the UK's Swervedriver springing to mind on opening track 'Happy Communing' and 'Daath'. Shoe-gazing exponents Ride and Catherine Wheel can also be heard in the vocals and 'spaced' sonics of tracks like 'Wormwood Raindrops' and 'Seraphim' while 'Paper Dolls' and 'Tongue and Groove' could be a grungier version of Ian Brown; the beats of 'Dark Room' even recalling his collaboration with Unkle on 'Be There'.
Yet despite all these musical reference points IMOGENE have their own unique voice. The treated sound of electric piano, the harmonious quality of the songs' melodies and the pulsating glow of their beats ensures that they stamp (or given the laid-back atmosphere perhaps 'massage' is a better word) their own authority on the influences they've absorbed.
Overall, there is a seemingly effortless but affecting warmth to IMOGENE's music that soon envelops the listener, creating a vibe that is both comforting and long-lasting well beyond the album's close.
A genuine listening pleasure.
4) Sour Candy
5) new song
7) Mirror the Sky
8) Paper Dolls
--We typically play a 45-minute set (7-10 songs), but have enough material to play for at least two hours.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.