Strange, The
Echo Chamber

  • Format: CD
  • Band: Strange, The
  • Title: Echo Chamber
  • Band's Origin: YU / HR
  • Style: Rock
  • Rating: 4
  • Release Year: 2018
  • Recording Year: 2018?
  • Production Year: 2018
  • Record Company: Dancing Bear
  • Item's Number: DBCD 471
  • Color of the Label:
  • Edition:
  • Extras: digipak
  • EAN: 3856008347121
  • Weight: 91 g
  • Visual: new
  • Acoustic:
  • Cover: new

Dancing Bear Release Information

No place for you here
Knew it from the start
This is the edge of nowhere
And its tearin’ us apart
Fast train to nowhere
Fast train to hell
Fast train to nowhere
Got nothin’ left to tell
Seen it all before
Felt it in our bones
Fast train to nowhere
Will never take us home….

(The Strange: Fast Train to Nowhere)

I don’t know about Dalibor Pavicic and Chris Eckman, the main authors of the songs from the new album of The Strange, but those verses from the song “Fast Train to Nowhere” accurately describe how I feel here in Croatia; on “the edge of nowhere” where a train for the better future, the one we were waiting for from the time we were born, will never arrive. It’s hard to endure such a condition, but it might be that only from a mood like that, a great work like “Echo Chamber” could be born.

“Echo Chamber” is the successor of The Strange’s first album, “Nights of Forgotten Films” (2004), basically made by The Bambi Molesters, a Croatian surf-rock band and Chris Eckman, once the main force behind the American band The Walkabouts. For those who don’t know, The Bambi Molesters, with albums such as “Sonic Bullets – 13 from the Hip” (2001), widely broadened the boundaries of surf-rock; becoming one of the instrumental rock bands best recognized by connoisseurs around the world. The Strange is a match made in heaven; a match made possible by the geographical proximity between Zagreb, Croatia where The Bambi Molesters worked and Ljubljana, Slovenia where Chris Eckman moved from Seattle in the early 21st century.

That was a coincidence, but on the other side, what brought them together to make an album such as “Nights of Forgotten Films” was a deep chemistry, the instrumental imagination of The Bambi Molesters and the beauty of Eckman’s poetry and voice. From the beginning it was clear that The Strange is much more than just the sum of one surf-rock band and one gothic-Americana poet. It was, if you ask me as a guy who knows Eckman and The Bambi Molesters for more than a 25 years, the best album Eckman sang on since “New West Motel” (1993) by The Walkabouts and the verification for The Bambi Molesters that they could be a great band, not only in surf-rock and purely instrumental music. “Nights of Forgotten Films” was clearly much more than a surf-rock album with added voice and lyrics. It was a beautiful piece of Americana that could be compared with the key works of Calexico and Lambchop, as well as the ones by The Walkabouts, and a great album with a touch of psychedelic rock similar to the Dream Syndicate’s, noir feeling and gothic rock akin to some works of Nick Cave with the influences of bands such as The Cramps and The Gun Club.

In the co-production of Phill Brown – well known by his work on some recordings of Led Zeppelin, Roxy Music, Traffic, Bob Marley and many others – “Nights of Forgotten Films” sounded as an album we even could not imagine that it could come from Zagreb, Croatia and Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Now, a long fourteen years later, the second album “Echo Chamber” has finally arrived. This time the Italian producer Don Antonio, known for his work with Alejandro Escovedo, Dan Stuart (Green on Red) and his own group Sacri Cuori (who are strongly influenced by the great Italian film composers), joins Phill Brown at the mixing console. It is a broadening and deepening of the music of The Strange, music conceived both in the birth of The Bambi Molesters in the ruined Croatian industrial town of Sisak and in the story of The Walkabouts in Seattle, U.S.A – the epicenter of grunge-rock that Eckman actually had few connecting points with (except through the releasing of records on Sub Pop).

The chance that people from such distant cities and different musical backgrounds – even if they share a similar taste in music – would be brought together in one band was around zero. But, the language of music is a universal one, and The Strange happened after Peter Buck (R.E.M.) and Scott McCaughey (Minus 5, Young Fresh Fellows) played on “Sonic Bullets – 13 From The Hip” (2001) by The Bambi Molesters who acted as a support band on the concert of R.E.M. in Koper, Slovenia at the end of the 90s.

The only song with lyrics and voice on that album is “Ice and Pinewood Trees”, sang by Chris Eckman and that was the starting point for what would become a whole new band. And there is a really strange story about The Strange, if I may note it, this musical combination was the dream of one drunken rock critic; at the time an A&R guy responsible for The Bambi Molesters and now that same critic is being asked to write these biographical lines.

“Echo Chamber” is even more diverse and deeper than “Nights of Forgotten Films”. For example, the song “Killing Time“ sounds like a lost country-soul song from the late 60s, “Dime a Dozen“ like funkrock from the early 70s and “Broken down Blues“ like a blues in the style of the final songs by Leonard Cohen. Other songs are again comparable with works of Calexico and Lambchop. It’s up to you to decide who is better, The Strange or...

Also, the beautiful twang guitars, the elegant horn section, tasty keyboards and delighted strings are suggesting that “Echo Chamber” could be today’s echo of yesterday’s baroque-pop legends such as Lee Hazlewood, Scott Walker, Van Dyke Parks and Burt Bacharach. But, the most important thing is that “Echo Chamber”, despite all odds, is a wonderful album recorded by souls, first lost and then found in the universe of music. It would be such a loss for all of us if those souls had never met.

Aleksandar Dragaš, Zagreb, June 2018


1. Lonesome Rider
2. Echo Chamber
3. Dead End Shore
4. Last Summer Song
5. Killing Time
6. Dime a Dozen
7. Broken Town Blues
8. Shoot the Bear
9. Fast Train to nowhere
10. Lights of Red Valley