Slow Motion Reign
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Slow Motion Reign

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The best kept secret in music

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Discography

Slow Motion Reign E.P. (Columbia Records/Serjical Strike Records) - to be released Sept. 21, 2004

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Bio

Earlier this year, Chris Douridas, host of influential KCRW radio program “New Ground,” was lounging at the Standard in downtown Los Angeles when he overheard two guys talking about their band. After a brief introduction and some music chitchat, Slow Motion Reign’s vocalist/bassist Narek Pogosyan and guitarist Sam Babayan—took him to the lobby and played one of their songs on the hotel's electric organ. “It was incredible,” says Douridas. “Listening to them sing in two-part harmony against the resonating sound of simple organ lines made the hair on my arms stand up. These guys definitely have something special going on.”

Slow Motion Reign showcase their full sonic strengths on their intoxicating self-titled debut, a lush and languorous melody-strewn album brimming with sun-dappled pop choruses and harmonies that could part clouds.

“They’re great songwriters in the tradition of the Beatles and Pink Floyd,” says System of a Down singer Serj Tankian, who signed the group to his new Columbia-distributed imprint Serjical Strike Records. “Their songs are beautiful and filled with all sorts of wonderful textures. It’s all very emotional and moving.” In fact, Tankian was so moved, that he also offered to man the boards for the band’s debut disc. “It’s the first outside project I’ve ever produced,” he says.

The results are stunning. Recorded with warmth and three-dimensional depth, Slow Motion Reign is hypnotic and creamy, filled with lyrics as indelible as its hooks. The songs, co-written by Narek and Babayan and fleshed out with keyboardist Erwin Khachikian and drummer Vigen Sayadian, are largely built on fragile piano-based arrangements rich with pictures. In “Life Simulator,” about a nation obsessed with consumerism, Babayan imagines shoppers floating through halogen-lit malls, where they’re plugged into giant IVs that force-feed them worthless swag (“Frozen foods and frozen hearts/frozen rows of shopping carts/ cans of soup and caviar help define just who we are”).

In “Habits,” Narek struggles to break stride while running in place. “I was stuck in a rut and working at a furniture store called Sofa U Love,” he recalls. “I drove the same route to and from work every day, always put in the same hours, and my life felt like one giant pattern. It got so bad, that I started bringing my keyboard and headphones with me so I could work on music in the store to keep my spirit from running dry. That’s where I wrote this song. Needless to say,” he laughs, “I sold very few sofas.”


“We wanted the song’s structure to reflect the lyrical vibe of falling into habits and patterns,” adds keyboardist Erwin Khachikian. “So the verses are in 7/4, which is a break from the pop norm, but then the song reverts to a standard 4/4 meter for the chorus. It gives the track a great sense of push and pull.”

Against a sprawling, surreal backdrop, Narek sifts through the wreckage of one shattered relationship (“Sea of Separation”) and then tries to psychically connect to another (“Embryonic”). On “Space,” the album’s beautifully bittersweet closer, he tells a heartbreaking true story about a friend attempting to reconcile with her estranged lover. “They’d been separated for several months because she’d been hurt,” says the vocalist. “But she eventually forgave him and called to tell him so. Sadly, she was told by his mother that he killed himself and her picture was on his desk when he died. She was devastated that he died never knowing she forgave him.”

Redemption is offered on the upbeat “Dance of Creation” and the life-affirming “Stay Awake.” I’ll never forget the making of that song,” says Vigen. “The middle section wasn’t coming together and I was getting really frustrated. After several takes, I just started slamming on the drums and cymbals in anger and Thom Russo, the studio engineer, said, ‘That was the best he every played. We should just keep him pissed from now on.’”

The band, whose name Babayan says references a burgeoning shift in social consciousness, formed from the ashes of IO, a local Los Angeles group. A few years back, they met Tankian through mutual friends. Once the quartet tightened its sound and live show, they called him for advice. “We needed management and were looking for feedback,” says Babayan. “We started talking about his label Serjical Strike and things just sort of fell into place from there. He’s since become like a big brother to us.”

“Making the record with Serj was a great experience,” says Narek. “He gave us the freedom to be ourselves and make the record the way we envisioned it.”

Tankian and guest singer Azam Ali contribute vocals to the soaring “No Way, No How,” which references the band’s Armenian heritage in sound and spirit. Babayan calls it the group’s “victory song.” “It’s about prevailing and standing strong,” he says. “There’s a line in there that goes, ‘No way no how, no one’s going to bring us down,’ which has sort of become the band’s mantra. We’re like