By Jim Testa
"Persistence may work for band that teases mind, tickles the ear"
Bands come and bands go: If there's one rule that musicians who play in rock bands have to live by, it's this: If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
A rash of recent releases drives this point home, but let's start by examining the career of Suran Song in Stag. Suran, the chanteuse and performance artist at the heart of this strangely-named combo, has seen it all, including a string of near-misses with several Philadelphia-based alternative-rock groups in the early 90s.
Suran Song in Stag began several years ago when Suran relocated to the college town of New Brunswick and developed the idea of combining moody, literate pop songs with an inventive multimedia presentation.
At a Suran Song performance, slides, video and film loops are projected onto white sheets surrounding the stage, as well as the bodies of band members (who usually wear long, flowing white robes, which act like human movie screens.) The images are synchronized to illuminate the lyrics Ð sometimes obviously, often obliquely, and sometimes with a wink and a grin.
"Pure Agitator," Suran Song in Stag's second album, released this week on the group's Cruel Music label, is every bit as daring and innovative as the band's live performances. Suran has stripped the group's sound down to its bare essentials; bits of piano and drums turn up here and there, but for the most of the album's ten tracks, the only instruments are Suran's voice and electric bass (played by accompanist Bil Weis.)
The results present an otherworldly melange that tickle the ear and tease the mind, using both tongue-tripping wordplay ("Tryst Trying Trust") and beguiling melodies ("Dust Crush.") How perfect that the album ends with a cover of David Bowie's "Star." Like Ziggy Stardust, Suran Song in Stag play pop music as it might be imagined on other planets.