Working under the Icarus Himself moniker, National Beekeepers Society's Nick Whetro enters a troubled universe in his new self-titled EP. Confused characters traipse through a cold, ill-fated world, in which everything and everyone are imperfect and death rattles the bones of both the living and the dead.
That may sound unappealing, but Whetro's aching tenor voice, metronomic work on acoustic guitar and canny employment of feedback-and fuzz-tone electric add up to something far more affecting than most recent indie ventures down the well-worn path of American Gothic. To be honest, I don't recall all the details of charismatic-cum-paranoid cult leader Jim Jones and the 1978 Jonestown Massacre in Guyana that ended the lives of 913 people, including hundreds of children. But that's not important to connecting with the chilling sense of horror that ripples through "People's Temple," Whetro's masterful evocation of that impossibly savage day.
As he forlornly intones sharp, adamantine couplets like, "The helicopters were hovering/ over of a sea of the dead," the chaos of Jonestown's last moments are palpable. And the explosion of feedback that lacerates the end of the song lacerates what had been a measured folk-rock tune, and makes that image almost too awful to bear.
An MP3 of the track are available in the related downloads at right. Icarus Himself plays a release party along with Sleeping in the Aviary at Mother Fool's Coffeehouse on Saturday, February 16.
MadTracks highlights and provides MP3s of songs performed by local musicians. All tracks here are provided with permission of the artist. If you are a musician based in the Madison metro area and are interested in sharing your work as a MadTrack, please send a message.