Ithaca Underground at The History Center with The Electric Golem, Tender Cruncher, Wild, Friday, January 6, 5:30 p.m.
One dynamic and crucial element to Ithaca’s avant-garde electronic experimentalist Penelope Lindsay, the musician behind Tender Cruncher, is the resolution to simply go for it. The music she creates is strange, but vivaciously real. Minimalism meets Dada in some nexus of weirdo electro acid pop: the results are often lifting and always unique. Lindsay manages to blend high art and punk mentality into a boiling abstraction. There’s an honesty to Tender Cruncher that shines through in the poetry, the oddness, and the nakedness of the compositions. The music attracts through intensity.
“Experimental and avant-garde art, writing and music have always appealed to me, so I think that the influence is definitely there,” said Lindsay. “I never quite consider them my direct influences, but seeing other people make experimental art/music inspires me to continue making my own and pursue my own vision. More than these art forms though, I think that punk really influenced my approach to music, because I just decided to start making it, and didn’t care about my skill level or adhering to any particular sound structure.”
Tender Cruncher realizes its vision with swift, often escapist electronic beats and Lindsay’s subdued, yet powerful vocals. There’s a particular dimension she’s found where Tender Cruncher can perform its axiom in a natural state. And even though this state is in many ways far from what one could call natural, with proper inspection one can detect the general influences and patters that make the totality work.
“To be completely honest, I think the first electronic music that really permeated into my subconscious was video game music, since I spent so much time gaming as a kid,” Lindsay explained. “It’s also extremely repetitive, so the loops would get very stuck in my head. As I grew up, Devo was definitely one of my primary musical influences. It’s funny because in retrospect I realized that Mark Mothersbaugh was composing a lot of video game/children’s show soundtracks, so I think his music has influenced me my whole life. Beyond that, I’ve always really loved hip-hop and dance music, so I think that vein of bleeping and blooping has definitely influenced my sound too.”
The hip-hop and dance nuances that run through Tender Cruncher’s music are in many ways the unifiers that glue the freeness and existential innovations that otherwise would take the music completely beyond the stratosphere. This is the beauty of the sound—the fine line that is straddles—orbital, dark and truly poetic.
“Darkness is definitely present in my songs,” Lindsay said. “The compositions come straight from the heart—there’s catharsis in being able to bare my darker thoughts in a song/art format. I think that there’s something to be said for exploring darker elements through song. I find that there isn’t a lot of emotionally challenging and confrontational music around, so this is an avenue I pursue.”
New York City label Haord Records released Tender Cruncher’s newest experimental classic Crybabe this past June. The album was released as a cassette and has the vibe and texture of something wonderfully analog. Experimental pop ballads dip and dive with angular psychedelic soundscapes and hard-hitting hip-hop beats to form a journey of absolute individuality. For every extreme excursion on the album, there’s an equally lush and uplifting séance, blending the whole complete and firm. And as a cassette it’s destined to be collector’s dream, all weird, arty, radiant and full of life.
“Releasing a tape on Haord Records was awesome, because I feel like that label, more than any other around right now, really jives with similar sonic sentiments as mine,” Lindsay said. “I went on tour with Haord Records head honchos Macula Dog this past summer around the east coast down to Florida, which was an amazing experience. This was my second tape, and I felt pretty excited to have more fleshed out song ideas on it. I’ve been actively working on new recordings, and hope to have a new tape out sometime this year, so stay tuned!” •