rachel goldstar
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rachel goldstar

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The best kept secret in music



Black Dice-brothers-in-sound Animal Collective share the bill, and Austin’s own Gorch Fock and Rachel Goldstar open. - The Austin Chronicle

"Volume 2 Issue 7"

Monster Movie
Graveface Records
A2P rating: 4.0

Two facts inevitably come up when introducing any new release by Monster Movie. The first being the genealogy of their band name, most likely a reference to the title of the debut album by the then Malcolm Mooney fronted incarnation of krautrock mega-legends, Can. The second fact, slightly more relevant to discussing the band’s work, is that Monster Movie features Christian Savill, former member of shoegazing pioneers Slowdive. While other Slowdive ex-members Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell have continued to put out material on mega-indie 4AD for the last few years, both in the form of twangy mope-rock outfit Mojave 3 and as solo artists, Savill’s half-decade long collaboration with songwriting partner Sean Hewsen has remained a slightly more obscured gem of the indie-underground. Transistor is perhaps another step away from what could only be the mixed blessing-curse of being constantly associated with a ground-breaking act like Slowdive,

The stylistic shifts Monster Movie has gone through in the past five years have been profound, as the dark dream-pop of their earliest days has turned up the pop a notch or two, while rarely sacrificing the “dark.” The band’s Clairecords debut and subsequent 2002 split CD with Dreamend on Graveface were both, if one wants to draw a somewhat facile comparison, fairly Slowdive-ish. But it’d be more accurate to liken Monster Movie’s earliest output to Heaven or Las Vegas-era Cocteau Twins – not so much in sound as in spirit. With songs like “Beautiful Artic Star” and “Nobody Sees” off the split being nothing short of trance-inducing, Savill’s vocals so drenched with effects and reverberation they make your stomach drop, hitting you right in the guts, maybe right next to the place where Elizabeth Fraser’s do when she’s warbling out the “Cherry-Coloured Funk.” But 2004’s To The Moon switches things up a great deal, effectively responding with a negative to the question “Does he sound like that when he talks, with all the reverb and whatnot?” The two tracks from the split are reworked with a bit of the vocal effects stripped off, to reveal Savill’s voice as lush and passionate without all the fuzz obfuscating it, nearly Morrissey-esque in its throatiness. Though “Sweet Lemonade,” To The Moon’s superlative opener, is the hallmark of the band’s potential, skillfully navigating pure indie-pop bliss in a way that most newer acts tend to miss out on entirely.

Transistor, as a followup, explores more brooding territory than that traversed throughout To The Moon. Beginning with a darkly expressive manifesto, “The Collapse” whispers in a broken electronic voice, “this is Transistor, this is the sound of our souls,” before leaping into 40 some seconds of the kind of cinematic piano you might expect out of, well, Mojave 3. But if there’s a hint of that unique UK fascination with ingratiating a country twang into melancholy pop that Mojave tends to embrace so wholeheartedly, it plays second or third fiddle to the soft ethereal blare of the music and the simmeringly sad voice of guest vocalist Rachel Staggs. Though fuzzed-out drones don’t necessarily dominate the disc, the icy lament of “Chances Are High” shows Monster Movie as melancholy as ever, driven by understated, chiming guitars instead of blaring ones. “Letting You Know” manages to magically merge ringing pop with resonating drone, creating something vaguely evocative of Jesus and Mary Chain softened to a wistful lullaby.

Perhaps the one largely lamentable fact about Transistor is that Savill’s vocals remain underused, and don’t seem to reach the heights they did on To The Moon material. Granted, there’s only so much you can fit into seven tracks, but Savill’s voice at its least unassuming would complement Staggs’s gut-wrenching minimalism. Make no mistake, though, Transistor functions well as a mini-album, with the shorter, less perceptible tracks bridging gaps between seriously moving pop tunes. The sounds of Monster Movies’ souls continue, with Transistor, to be beautiful and tear-jerking ones. - Ann Arbor Paper

"CD Reviews"

Ethereal chanteuse, Jessica Bailiff, and Rachel Staggs of lush shoe-gazers, Experimental Aircraft, have formed a dreamy super-duo of sorts with their latest project, Eau Claire. Recorded at 20 Below studio with Alan Sparhawk of Low, Jessica and Rachel cast a gauzy glow on the self-titled EP's four tracks.

"Freefall" starts things off with fuzzy, atmospheric drones, a farfisa organ, and a drumbeat that calls to mind Jesus and Mary Chain's, "Just Like Honey". The icing on this psychedelic cake is Jessica's lovely hazy soprano. Another highlight is the gorgeously oceanic, "Soaring", this time sung by Rachel. Clocking in at over nine minutes, the song glides by, washing the listener in it's melancholy light.

The real strength in this EP, besides Rachel and Jessica being equally talented vocalists (their voices are able to blend seamlessly and yet sound distinct) and song-writers, is Eau Claire's ability to harness mood so effectively. By injecting their gilded melodies with shoe gaze, drone, and texture, the ladies of Eau Claire have offered up a yummy swoon-fest on this impressive, but far too short, debut. - Venus Zine

"CD Reviews"

"This review should have been written two years ago when Love for the Last Time was scheduled for its original release. The album was in the can, but troubles with the Austin space rock quartet’s former label, Devil in the Woods, caused delays and the follow-up to Experimental Aircraft’s impressive 2000 debut sat on the shelf. Both the songs and the playing are much more accomplished this time around. Brooding guitars cascade and crash around Rachel Staggs’s melancholy voice on the aptly titled "Symphony," while a beefy, propulsive rhythm section drives songs like "Johnny" and "Seasick" with a sense of urgent purpose. If 4AD has any sense, they’ll pick this band up. They haven’t had anything this strong on their roster since the heyday of Lush and the Pale Saints."

- The Big Takeover

"CD Reviews"

"From time to time, sounds are made that prove electricity to be a necessity. The elongated, ebbing waves that earned Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation a spot in heaven. The slow hypnosis of Bardo Pond's "Aldrin" or the shrill sensurround of Flying Saucer Attack's New Lands. Lee "Scratch" Perry's subversive, psychotic suggestions. The last half-minute or so of "Symphony," Love For The Last Time's opener, dares to nudge the above for a small spot at the foot of the sonic bed. After building from Rachel Staggs' breathy, semi-coherent pronouncements, the band sets the controls for hyperspace and plunges forward, guaranteeing the rest of the album a listeners' unbroken attention. How Experimental Aircraft delivers "Contemplative Silence" answers the question, "What would it sound like if George Harrison had ever played slide guitar with My Bloody Valentine?" No doubt the Aircraft spent some time with MBVs Loveless, but unlike contemporaries Denali, there's been no borrowing from trip hop's listlessness. One earful of the intro to "Seasick" and it's apparent Ex Air has found god. So here's a raised tonic to Ben Franklin, knowing he too couldn't leave well enough alone."

- Magnet Magazine

"Fuzzbox - CD Reviews"

"Monster Movie is Christian Savill {ex-Slowdive} and Sean Hewson, and their latest disc is Transistor on Chicago's Graveface Records. While they're from Reading, England, Rachel Staggs of Austin's Experimental Aircraft lends her vocals to several of the LP's wispy tunes, from the Radiohead-ish "Left" to the beach-friendly harmonies of "The Family Plot." Elsewhere in the sonic universe, Staggs has created Eau Claire, a duo with Chicago solo artist Jessica Bailiff. Produced by Alan Sparhawk of Low, the self-titled EP on Clairecords is an homage to all things lo-fi. The singers converge on opener "Freefall," with its Farfisa-driven beat, and then "Soaring," a tremolo backbend into Lush's Lovelife. Closer "Song For" simmers and boils for a lovely pop concoction." - Austin Chronicle

"CD Reviews"

Eau Claire: S/T (Clairecords, 2005)

Take Jessica Balliff, Rachel Goldstar, and Alan Sparhawk, place them in a recording studio, and you get a project called Eau Claire. Eau Claire is a collaboration between Jessica Balliff and Rachel Goldstar (Experimental Aircraft) with Alan Sparhawk as producer and recording engineer. The songs are a mix of singer-songwriter and blissed out dreampop. Coupled with the angelic vocals of Goldstar and Balliff, this short ep is worth every penny spent on it. It's spacious, beautiful, and utterly blissful.

“Freefall” begins the ep with blissful fuzz that lays a foundation for the rest of the album. This changes into fantastic, spacey keys and angelic female vocals. To be honest, Balliff and Goldstar’s voices make me swoon. They are perfect and they really draw you in amidst the slow-tempo fuzz. “Freefall” is slow, patient, and perfectly timed. “Soaring” begins with a sort of windy silence and a low rumble. This soft noise then blends with an acoustic guitar floating on top of it. When the rumble fades a bit, the vocals come in and, once again, the sweet, angelic voices come out of the speakers. “Soaring” is over nine minutes long and never, ever gets boring. Eventually, the noise in the background takes on a more structured feel that is beautiful and spacey.

“For Times” begins with acoustic guitar and some sprinkles of keys and really cool knocking in the background. This has a more singer-songwriter feel to it, but the other more ambient/dreampop elements are still present. The track ends in a rather cool mix of eerie sounds and backward samples. “Song For” completes this all too short Ep and begins with acoustic guitar, fuzz, noises, and jingle bells. Balliff and Goldstar deliver ExAir style vocals. This song has a slow/medium tempo and really showcases their careful songwriting and their ability to be patient and allow the song to play itself out. The song eventually fades out into a slow murmur of humming undertones.

Rachel Goldstar and Jessica Balliff deliver a solid, beautiful four songs. The only criticism I really have is that the ep is too short. Go buy it now! - Somewhere Cold


How do you top Swervedriver, Ride, and the Swirlies? There’s really no way to match that great SXSW 03 triumvirate of bliss rock, but Experimental Aircraft’s first full set of the year should be something to behold nonetheless. The soaring melodies of 2002’s Love for the Last Time have given way to a set of mostly new material, perhaps a return to the noisy starbursts of their debut. A Covert Operation, the pedal-heavy rock unit propelled by the drums of Tia Carrera’s Erik Conn, opens, with ex-Sixteen Deluxer Carrie Clark's Via Satellites leading off this all-local bill. - Austin Chronicle


She's released music with Experimental Aircraft, The Swells, Monster Movie, Eau Claire and more. Solo she has appeared on many compilations, including: Pop Culture Press Magazine issue 56 CD comp; Masstransfer Magazine issue 5 CD comp; Awkwardness EP - she worked on a remix of "Emotional Rescue" by Windsor for the Derby under the name Carnival Wave; Already Gone Records CD comp of Texas bands; Several Bands Galore CD comp


Feeling a bit camera shy


Classically trained, Rachel played clarinet for 9 years before ever picking up a guitar. She toured on clarinet in Russia at the age of 15 with a full orchestra. But guitar changed everything and the clarinet case went under the bed. Since then Rachel has played in 9 bands over the past 10 years - at times she was in 3 or 4 bands at once, writing songs and backing up her friends. Most notably she is the main songwriter and vocalist for Experimental Aircraft (1997-present). With Experimental Aircraft she has toured the west coast 3 times, playing the NXNW festival in 1999 and 2000. She has performed with Experimental Aircraft at the SXSW festival every year since 2000.

These days she's concentrating on her solo work and only performs in one band, Experimental Aircraft.

In the studio, you can find Rachel overseas in England recording with Monster Movie (ex-Slowdive). In the states, she collaborates with musical partner Jessica Bailiff and producer Alan Sparkhawk (LOW).

Resident DJ at club Disco Hospital (Austin).