C.K. Flach & The Rising Tide
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C.K. Flach & The Rising Tide

Albany, NY | Established. Jan 01, 2015 | SELF

Albany, NY | SELF
Established on Jan, 2015
Band Americana Alternative




"Album Review: "Empty Mansions," C.K. Flach"

Empty Mansions is the title of C.K. Flach’s album. It dropped at the beginning of February. And it is well-worth listening to because not only is it good, but Flach’s voice, along with his music, are one-offs.

Stylistically, Flach combines folk, Americana and indie rock. Flach’s musical style reminds me of Mickey Newbury, but it doesn’t, if you know what I mean. On the one hand, Flach’s music is totally antithetical to Newbury’s music; but on the other hand, it has the same balladic-feel to it. And vocally, there’s no similarity at all. Newbury’s voice is gorgeously dulcet, with superb range, while Flach’s voice is more like Lou Reed’s: less range than Newbury and, at times, almost monotonous. That sounds like a knock on Flach, but it’s not meant to be. What makes his voice distinct is his phrasing and the turbulence of emotion his vocals and lyrics reflect.

Flach’s songs and his voice are mesmerizing. You have to listen.

It should be noted that Flach plays all the instruments on the album. His talent is remarkable.

Lyrically, Flach’s songs speak of the usual topics, like love and loss, the joys and pains of life. What’s cool about his lyrics is that many of the songs carry dual meanings. Listeners can hear subtle messages of racism, politics and corruption in there, too.

Empty Mansions has ten tracks, nine songs and one poem. The tenth track, “Firmament,” is the poem. I didn’t like it. Now don’t get me wrong; it’s a good poem. It’s just that I wanted to hear another song. The other songs I didn’t care for were “Calamity” and “Tranquilized,” probably because they are repetitious and unwieldy, like a deflated balloon. Although, I have to admit, upon further listening that “Tranquilized” began to grow on me.

That being said, I really like the rest. My favorites are “Lazarus,” “Boxcar Dreaming,” and “Empty Mansions.” “Lazarus” starts out with a nice acoustic guitar, and then Flach’s voice jumps in, along with the drums. For me, the tune carries heavy religious overtones, while simultaneously being the story of a young woman residing in a room that “is much like a tomb.” Good stuff!

“Boxcar Dreaming” has a charming melody and wonderful backup harmonies, while “Empty Mansions” is keyboard driven, with a floating melody. And the lyrics are beautiful: “Empty mansions and hollow hearts.”

Empty Mansions, on the whole, carries a faded devout ambience, in which wisdom and talent are allied. This washed-out mood invests the album with an opaque, sacred flavor that gives the music what can only be described as a precious quality. - The Huffington Post

"C.K. Flach explores songwriting, poetry and purpose"

Empty Mansions is an Americana record packed with socio-political references that poke holes in nostalgic patriotism and criticize the corruption and division laying under the surface of nationalism. The album is the first solo release of C.K. Flach. The Ravena native joined the Albany music scene a few years ago as the singer-songwriter of folk-rock trio The Kindness before exploring his songwriting skills as a solo artist.

“Songs are so universal but two people can listen to the same song and draw two different meanings from it. I figured I could fit in somewhere for somebody and I just went for it,” he said.

In his breakout album, the indie artist tackles some pretty heavy subjects from rape culture to white privilege and spends a significant amount of musing on the delicate relationship between the “common man” and authority figures. “I never wrote like that until now,” Flach told The Alt. “I see a lot of discord and discontent in the people I meet, everywhere I go, whatever they identify with (race, religion, what have you) I think a lot of it is the way people can get so much information so quickly these days. There’s a lot that’s in your face and it gets frustrating. People feel oppressed by this weight. I want to let people know, you’re not alone in these [realizations].”

The singer-songwriter is a multi-instrumentalist, playing the guitar and harmonica on the album along with musical contributions from friends. The simplicity of instruments allows the songwriting to be the focus. His voice twangs, lending a tinge of country to the work. But it only adds to the fractured “American Dream” feel. Commonly referenced phrases and cliches are sprinkled into the tracks, but they serve a central purpose. They’re attention grabbing and overgeneralizing, playing on the public’s love for loaded language and rather short attention span.

“Hey Mr. machine gun man, a nation divided cannot stand/that’s one man polished and another torn/one person forgiven and another scorned,” he sings in “Machine Gun.”

But the album’s central focus is not satire, but empathy. Songs like “Calamity” illustrate some incredibly specific, relatable scenarios.

“‘Calamity’ runs through all of these horrible things, things that people experience everyday. I want to uplift those people who are experiencing them and reach out a helping hand in comfort,” Flach said.

Other songs like “The Officer” call out for social reform. “Privileged is as privileged does” he sings, while telling the story of a rape victim whose attacker is dealt with rather leniently by the justice system. Sound familiar? Of course it does.

“She said how can you let him just walk away/the judge replied calmly/you could’ve just closed your legs.”

Art activism in the form of songwriting certainly has taken it’s share of flak (pun intended) for its contribution to the “all talk no action” discourse–now associated with Facebook rants and Twitter call outs–but Flach isn’t one to take it too seriously.

“Music is an escape. . . . It doesn’t have to make this huge impact. Art just brings people together. It’s a very strong medium for sharing. To bring together ideas. Unity is a huge thing for the arts. I’m not trying to convince you of something, I’m just sharing my passion.”

In May 2016, Flach released a 20-poem book, Division Street, inspired by the extensive songwriting process in Mansions. The 10-track album ends with a poem called “Firmament,” a testament to Flach’s new love affair with the art form and its many allowances of expression. “There’s no limits with poetry,” Flach explains. “You have a lot of freedom with it so it’s very releasing. It can be read or spoken, so you can take it anywhere. Songwriting feels so much more involved. There are more metrics.”

With installments in music and poetry, Flach is looking ahead to explore his newfound voice in further creative outlets. There is a passion for understanding in Empty Mansions that will make you think about the building issues that flood our screens and airwaves. (If, unlike us, you weren’t already obsessing). It’s certainly worth the artistic discussion. “This is my first time recording in this mindset,” he said. “I’m excited to see what I can do in upcoming projects.” - The Alt Weekly

"TrunkSpace Artist Interview"

TrunkSpace: How would you describe your music?
Flach: I would describe it as alternative folk. I’m a big fan of folk and folk-rock sounds so I like to take those ideas and mix in certain elements to diversify the sound. I really just try to experiment and have fun with non-typical instruments like djembe, electric piano, udu drum, and even soundscapes.

TrunkSpace: You started out on drums. Is it safe to say that once a drummer, always a drummer?
Flach: I think so. The drums were my first love and what the drums will do in a song is always in the forefront of my thinking while writing a new piece. I think they are a very powerful element and I like to take advantage of that.

TrunkSpace: Your debut solo album “Empty Mansions” was released in February. You’ve played in bands in the past, but was stepping out on your own a daunting task? Being a solo artist offers creative freedom, but at the same time, it must also open up a certain space for vulnerability to work its way in?
Flach: Yeah, I was nervous about doing something on my own. “Empty Mansions” is entirely me… every instrument, every lyric, every track… so you can imagine my feeling of vulnerability releasing it. Fortunately, I was able to cut my teeth with other projects in the past which helped, as well as tremendous support from some key people. Overall though, I wanted to do it and put those nervous feelings behind me. It’s been a freeing experience and I plan to employ what I’ve learned with me on the next project.

TrunkSpace: You write a lot about the current state of things in the world. Is part of that a way for you to sort of absorb and find a self-understanding in the things that you see and hear?
Flach: It became apparent to me as I was forming these songs that are sort of a social commentary that I had to sort out the way I felt about some of them. Views and opinions I had changed over the course of writing and research, which I was a little surprised by. I’m happy to say I’ve grown from it and I’m perfectly willing to change. I try to be pretty open and honest. So yeah, I would say it had become a good way for me to process things.

TrunkSpace: When you look at the album now with a bit of separation, what is the most personal song that you included and do you ever second guess saying certain things in your songs over fear of saying too much about yourself in a public platform?
Flach: I really can’t say that any of these songs are biographical, but they are personal in the creative sense. I was a bit worried about a few lines throughout the album as far as content. I can get a little dark in my writing, but the world we inhabit can be a dark place and I don’t see the point of watering it down. The songs are honest and I think that’s important. My hope for my work is that people can identify with it, which means that I have to go beyond just my personal experience while maintaining a humanity to the lyrics. I do second guess myself sometimes, but I find myself just saying “go for it, what’s the worst that can happen?”

TrunkSpace: We’ve heard many artists say that releasing an album is like having a kid. With that in mind, do you see more kids in your future, particularly as a solo artist?
Flach: Absolutely, I’m already working out new material. I had such a good experience with “Empty Mansions” and I learned so much making it that I can’t wait to do it again.

TrunkSpace: You write poetry as well as lyrics. We’re curious, how many of your songs started out as poetry and then morphed into lyrics?
Flach: When I started writing, I kept both endeavors separate, but it has become difficult to do that. I think that as I have matured a little bit I’ve begun to develop a style that is more uniform. That is to say that my poetry and songwriting have now converged to a single style.

TrunkSpace: What is the biggest similarity between writing poetry and lyrics and what is the biggest difference?
Flach: Lyrics are more tedious because of the metrics involved; melody, rhyme scheme, length etc., whereas poetry is very free for me, but I try to approach both with an accessible language. The commonality is that I’m trying to communicate with the listener/reader and I try to do that in the most fluent and interesting way I can summon.

TrunkSpace: What is the best advice you’ve ever received in life as it pertains to your musical career?
Flach: To stick with it.

TrunkSpace: Great songwriting elicits emotions out of the listener. What do you hope people feel when they listen to your music?
Flach: Anything and everything. The spectrum of human emotion is broad and I hope to be able to create songs that encourage people to feel many things. From protest songs to ballads, songs can go so many places and I think the emotions follow.

TrunkSpace: What can fans expect from C.K. Flach for the rest of 2017?
Flach: A Northeast tour in June and a few one-off shows before and after that. I plan to start working on a new album as well. - TrunkSpace

"C.K. Flach-Empty Mansions"

Empty Mansions is the first solo project for C.K. Flach. This is a collection of true Americana folk music. The songs touch on a variety of topics including racism, the confusion of uncertain times and the overall human spirit.

​“Boxcar Dreaming” was by far one of my favorite tunes of the album. It was a soulful tribute to searching for direction in tough times. It reminds me of a classic ‘60s tune with a bit of a modern twist. The imagery of traveling by rail was an interesting metaphor for that feeling of uneasiness when you are just plain lost.

Flach's voice and passion were showcased in “Tranquilized.” Again his solo talents and the ability to share so much emotion through his words came out in this song. The message was simple but very relatable. “Munich” would change the pace of the set just a bit, but again the focus is the story and pure poetry of the lyrics. From both of these songs it is very apparent that Flach understands the art of telling a great story.

“Calamity” was another song I quite enjoyed listening to. The mix of the familiar nighttime sounds with the types of lyrics you might hear around a campfire hit this one home. Even something as simple as including the harmonica added to the song. The subject of the song was a bit sad but the overall song was enjoyable. “The Officer” would also see an interesting addition of unique sounds that added just enough extra to the story for the song.

The sultry “Queen Caroline” was an unexpected addition to the more folk feel of the set. Flach has a talent of telling some pretty dark stories without them feeling dark or negative. It almost feels like a late night ghost story session your favorite uncle would tell during those long summer nights.

Overall the album is an impressive mix of stories and meaningful lyrics. Each one is a stand- alone poem, but together they form almost a love story to changing times. There is a feeling of despair but also hope. The lyrics combine beautifully with every aspect of the music from the small details to the guitar back. - Divide & Conquer

"C.K. Flach - Empty Mansions (Self-Released)"

C.K. Flach is a musician from Albany, New York who is striking it out solo on the indie alt-folk circuit after a brief tenure with his previous band The Kindness. His debut solo album, Empty Mansions, is a concept album about division and confusion in the modern era, and is the culmination of a long series of attempts and experiments by Flach. In age of tumult and uncertainty, Empty Mansions is an ambitious record that attempts to make sense of it all, or at least try to understand it; and over the course of its nine songs and one spoken-word poem, deals with “issues such as politics, racism, division and corruption by telling stories of love, loss, heartache and salvation.”

Overall, Empty Mansions is an incredibly consistent and intricately crafted work, but among the record’s strongest moments is the lead single, “Boxcar Dreaming,” a nostalgic and weary allegorical travelogue, and “Calamity,” a dreamily melancholic ballad that sounds like it came out of the late-60s Laurel Canyon. The spoken-word track, “Firmament,” can feel a little bit like an indulgence, but it does fit into the album’s well-made structure. Empty Mansions is remarkably ambitious for a debut album, and it’s a spiritual creation from Flach that succeeds on just about every level. - The Big Takeover

"Press Release"

With the release of the Empty Mansions album, C.K. Flach brings a new feel to a clashing of genres. Lush with addicting progressions, a soulful vocal approach, and an alternative pop undertone, the record boasts the aesthetic of folk pop anthems. Although the songs are diverse from one another, there is a glue that holds them all together much like a concept album would. Most importantly, the album never loses sight of the emotional platform great songs are built from.

The first single, “Boxcar Dreaming”, is an instant alt pop classic. Complete with a driving percussion, a powerful duet style chorus, swelling strings, and loads of musical hooks, the song seems to breathe and build as it plays on.

“The main theme is about leaving baggage behind and finding a new path both figuratively and literally. Of course that looks different for everyone, but I utilized the train symbolism to kind of make it universal. Well, it is the hook and I think it’s an intriguing title. I don’t think you can read it or hear it without wanting to know more.” explains the songwriter of his single.

Although the single does speak volumes for the album, to get a real understanding for where Flach is coming from, it should be heard in its entirety.

“Working on an album as a whole has pushed me to think differently about each song as far as the arrangement, content, flow and anatomy in general. Trying to keep each song unique why cultivating a consistent sound across the album that represents me as an artist was a bit of a challenge, but I think managed okay. I definitely feel more confident as a songsmith because of it. “says Flach of the album and songwriting approach.

Having been playing drums since the age of only 10, C.K. Flach has always had music as an outlet. The songwriter began playing guitar after learning a few chords during a service trip to Cambodia as a teenager. Eventually, he started a band with his brother and a long time friend called The Kindness. Inspired by the landscape and lifestyle of the Hudson Valley, Flach began to write and sing aggressively for the band who would release an EP independently in 2015.

It wasn’t until 2016 that Flach began to focus on his own material writing and recording his songs in a spare room in his apartment. It was soon after that Empty Mansions was born. The project would become his solo release and the epitome of what his sound is now.

As Flach himself puts it “I think music is the strongest medium we have to share ideas, feelings and views. And what I hope for is that whoever listens to my music can take something away with them. Be it a thought, feeling, idea or inspiration.” - Self


Empty Mansions



"Flach’s songs and his voice are mesmerizing. You have to listen." - The Huffington Post

Born and raised near Albany, NY, C.K. Flach is an artist determined to make a difference through songs and poetry.

Flach began drumming at age 10 and learned a few guitar chords on a service trip to Cambodia as a teenager. He started writing songs and playing music with friends for fun and in 2012 started a band called 'The Kindness' with his brother and life-long friend. Inspired by the landscape, lifestyle and people of the Hudson Valley, Flach began to sing and write aggressively for the band which would release an EP independently in 2015. C.K. began to focus more on solo work in 2016, writing and recording a new project in a spare room at his apartment. Flach (a multi-instrumentalist) did nearly all the work himself; writing, arranging and recording. He recruited friends and family as needed to complete certain songs, but the project titled Empty Mansions remains an extension of C.K. himself.

Focusing on the turmoil of the times, C.K. prepared nine songs and one poem for the album that speak of modern day issues such as politics, racism, division and corruption by telling stories of love, loss, heartache and salvation. Rooted in Americana, Flach cultivates an indie rock sound that acts as the vessel to carry his message. One he delivers with a voice that ranges from dark to inspiring.

“I think music is the strongest medium we have to share ideas, feelings and views. And what I hope for is that whoever listens to my music can take something away with them. Be it a thought, feeling, idea or inspiration.”

Most recently, Flach has formed a backing band, The Rising Tide, to help him bring his music to life on stage. 

Empty Mansions is available now.

Band Members