No drunken pop songs
The Sacramento-based avant-garde pop band Biosexual crafts complex songs that are open to interpretation
Over kombucha and coffee laced with packets of honey on the patio at Bows & Arrows, Zac Nelson of Sacramento’s Biosexual disclosed a little known fact:
“I’ve never been in a band that’s been contacted.”
Translated: Record labels seek him out now, not the other way around.
Bandmates Jocelyn Noir and her brother, Michael RJ Saalman, who’ve joined Nelson at the table, nod in agreement.
“From the get-go, [the band’s] had some kind of spiritual significance,” Nelson said.
“We don’t get drunk and write pop songs,” Noir said. “This is something special and deep for the three of us.”
Noir, who also plays in Alak, and producer Saalman, also know the feeling of isolated existence. Alak’s 2011 album GRØUPS was released locally on Davis’ KDVS Recordings. While Saalman, under the moniker Woman Year, put out a limited-run release with Life’s Blood, an Irvine, Calif.-based tape label.
Both said it was not until recently they felt their avant-garde recordings were finding an audience outside their circle of friends. Nelson is a prolific artist in experimental-indie music, with numerous solo and collaborative albums on independent labels such as Porter Records, Bathetic Records and Debacle Records.
But even projects with Zach Hill and Robby Moncrieff had only led to marginal notoriety.
Though Nelson’s wanted to use the Biosexual moniker since 2011—the term was coined by Saalman—it’s only lately that interest in the project escalated.
Now, obscure even by Sacramento’s standards, Biosexual’s The Window Wants the Bedroom LP (released on Debacle Records) reveals a band that makes experimental pop, mostly built from electronic demos passed between Saalman and Nelson. Then, once tweaked to their specifications, Noir layers in more guitars and vocals.
As difficult as the record is to describe, Saalman sees the album’s artwork as apropos introduction.
“It’s like a big smile that’s laughing at you because you’re about to get your mind blown,” he said.
Indeed, it is a perfect smile of a red-lipsticked, feminine mouth that looks as though it was removed from a windup toy in a dentist’s office.
Does the image encourage interpretation of the album title or, perhaps, the music burned into the grooves of the vinyl?
Hardly. But that’s part of Biosexual’s aesthetic.
The title, The Window Wants the Bedroom, comes from a picture Nelson took of a windowsill. He had recently arranged some cutout letters on the sill, much like those old-school refrigerator magnets, and the album title eventually emerged from the sentence.
Interpretation is as meaningful and as meaningless as the listener makes it.
“I really like the way that [the title] sounds,” he said. “But [it] also makes me feel kind of weird.”
The point is that the title can mean different things to different people—including himself.
“I can make up so many meanings—which is just as important—but you can also allow it to sound cool without applying a meaning,” he said.
The record won’t be available until later this month, but the band is already being pursued for a follow-up by a Canadian cassette label; talks of a third record are also heavy on the trio’s mind. Meanwhile, Alak is prepping an EP for the U.K.-based Kaleidoscope Records, and Saalman recently released an instrumental cassette titled Ripe Hymns on Crash Symbols.
The momentum has proved gratifying, both on an artistic and personal level.
“Being young came with not feeling like I connected to my peers most of the time,” Noir said. “It’s taken me 27 years to find my people. They exist!”
Saalman shared a similar perspective.
“I love how weird life has been, and things are perfect now,” he said. “It took a long time to get that perspective, but I wouldn’t be as close to it if I didn’t live out the darker aspects of life first.”