Monthly Feature.

On Science and Sexuality:
The Breathless Experimentalism of Dynasty Electric

July Feature 2006

Dynasty Electric- "Hypnotized"
Dynasty Electric Feature Show Slideshow
Photo by Judith Levitt

Feature Article by Ben Krieger

30 years ago, the punk movement sprung up in reaction to the bloated pretensions of stadium acts such as Pink Floyd, Yes, Genesis, and pretty much any other act that championed larger-than-life showmanship and musical proficiency. The idea was that anyone—not just the gods—could pick up a guitar, plug in and play. These days you can still find countless punk-inspired garage outfits, but the DIY philosophy they once claimed is no longer theirs; record collections are getting bigger and more diverse, home studio setups are getting more affordable and at this point heading out to the garage and plugging in leads to a sorts of unfathomable genre hybrids. Enter Dynasty Electric: a studio duo (live trio) that is equal parts New Wave, prog and psychedelic jazz, firing off catchy little nuggets of sonic experimentation that shimmer with both technical proficiency and the enthusiastic experimentation of a child scientist. Finally, all of this is packed into single-length bursts of sexual energy.

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I’m a record geek, and this alone is enough to win me over, but Jennifer DeVeau and Seth Misterka seem to have a keen sense for how to seal the devotion of a rock journalist: give him a slice of pumpkin pie and let him fool around with your Theremin. Within five minutes I’ve been able to approximate the famous line from “Good Vibrations” and am ecstatic. We’re hanging out in the rock couple’s flat, smack dab in the middle of Hasidic Williamsburg. The room has plenty of good feng shui—jam packed full of amps, mics, guitars, a sax, computer consoles, cables galore—and all of it seeming to be frozen in mid session.

Several records will spin during the course of our interview, including some Sun Ra and the late Syd Barrett’s glorious debut with Pink Floyd. Listening to Dynasty Electric’s music, both their recent full-length, Black Box, as well as selections from the follow-up due out this fall, this background music makes perfect sense. There is a clear correlation between Sun Ra’s “let’s see what this button’s for” energy and DE’s material. At the core of the groups sound is Misterka’s passion for experimental soundscapes…or as DeVeau jokingly refers to them: “late-night drug-induced musical fantasies.” Of course, it’s clear that the inspiration for these songs stems from a source that is much more spiritual and sexual than chemical. Both band members site Jim Morrison and the Doors as a major influence and acknowledge that King Crimson is a name everyone in the group is familiar with. Dynasty Electric is one of many projects that Misterka has been involved with, and if there is one key element that focuses his ventures into electronic psychedelic, it’s New Wave. The simplicity of 80s drum beats is all over the place and Hall ‘n’ Oates come up as one of the more unexpected influences in the band’s sound.

“Sometime experimental music can be hard to digest,” says Misterka, “we try to fuse different kinds of music together into something that someone can access.”

“And then we make it sexy,” adds DeVeau. She will often lay down the steamy vocal melodies and lyrics on top of the musical beds. Her delivery, as well as Misterka’s sax lines, help bring this musical libido to the surface and are what separate Dynasty Electric from many of their explorative peers. The lyrics claim their share of this energy as well; “ManMachine” ponders how computers have evolved into tools for expressing carnal desire (“hey baby, I never knew your circuits were made of flesh and blood / I’m a smooth operator / I’ll learn your keystrokes”). DeVeau’s singing turns the temperature up in material such as “Breathless,” which follows the band through a deceptively intricate ballad that gradually ascends into a fast-paced orgasmic breakdown during the final minute.


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Edward Kasparek is the drummer on the recent recordings and live performances. The core duo met a while back in an East Village Bar. “I was actually on a date,” says Misterka, “but she was late.” DeVeau was the bartender serving the lonely male patron, and the two hit it off. Down the line, they can recall visiting the DeVeau family and pouring through some old scrapbooks. Misterka hadn’t realized the extent of his girlfriend’s own musical history “She was in a Beatles cover band, playing bass,” he exclaims, “they played in England.” So it wasn’t long before the musical partnership strengthened as well. This led to a wide range of lineups ranging from massive (“it ended up sounding really psychedelic,” to minimalist, (“sometimes we miss the [live] programming.”) and to a trio format (“we got the itch to have a live band again.”).

Dynasty Electric are travel bugs and love the road. Their adventures have taken them as far away as Japan and while they don’t plan too far ahead, Europe and the West Coast are areas they are itching to get back to. Misterka’s connections have provided a unique experience in this regard. “There is a greater sense of patronage among jazz musicians,” he comments, “people help you out.”

And in case you thought that experimental musicians don’t have a humorous commercial side, Dynasty Electric has an alter ego, the Sexy Champions, where they focus some of their more blatantly pop and commercial ambitions. They have had an opportunity to work with MTV in this outfit and if all goes well, both of these projects will be able to support each other via the band’s label, Mysterious Media.

Dynasty Electric’s insistence on staying true to themselves and sculpting their own voice from a plethora of influences has paid off in spades; this is the sexiest group of studio spirits that you will find in New York City. Not to be missed.

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