Wave Cage’s EVEN YOU CAN SEE IN THE DARK out now!

October 27, 2023  /  News

Wave Cage brings its blend of electrified, synth-heavy jazz to the national scene on Even You Can See in the Dark, out October 27, shining a light on Iowa’s contemporary music scene. 

Electronic jazz collective Wave Cage will release their first full-length studio album, Even You Can See in the Dark, on October 27, 2023 on Shifting Paradigm Records. The record pairs the Iowa City based group featuring Ryan Garmoe (trumpet, flugelhorn), Nolan Schroeder (tenor saxophone), Jarrett Purdy (Fender Rhodes, synths, synth bass), and Christopher Jensen (drums) with close friends and fellow artists from the Iowa scene. Through a variety of styles, the album explores themes of collaboration and connection to one’s community.

Wave Cage’s first release, The Portrait EP (2021), was described by the River Cities’ Reader as “evoking the smooth melodies and diverse textures of early Weather Report; the ambitious, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink arrangements of groups such as Jaga Jazzist; and the more genre-agnostic trip-hop beat decisions of such projects as Thievery Corporation and Zero 7.” The band’s follow up project, Heart Notes Live! (2023), was a live album performed in collaboration with national award-winning spoken word poet Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey. Rainey is also featured on three tracks on Even You Can See in the Dark.

Even You Can See in the Dark is an album dedicated to grass roots music and art scenes everywhere. It’s a celebration of how collaboration nurtures creative communities, creates a sense of belonging, and encourages artistic and personal growth. Garmoe says, “There is so much talent and creativity in our local scene that can sometimes be overlooked due to not being a part of a major metropolitan area such as New York City or Los Angeles. And it’s not just here in Iowa — we felt that this sentiment could resonate with folks from smaller creative scenes all over, so we created an album to celebrate collaboration and its impact on these communities.”

The album opens with the title track “Even You Can See in the Dark.” A lush pad of looped trumpet expands into a sparkling synth-scape that provides the backdrop for Rainey’s poetry. “I have traveled far and wide and landed in this galaxy. Which is to say, the gravity of these grounds pulled me here. In a city not yet named star, but shining just as bright. In these streets I find my state of mind nurtured by the people, or should I say planets… Here we orbit each other with creative collaboration.” he exclaims, delving into the album’s core themes.

The second track, “Break Out,” specifically highlights the core quartet of Wave Cage, as it’s the only track that doesn’t have a guest artist from outside the band. It features an interactive solo between Garmoe and Schroeder, then culminates with a showcase of Jensen’s drumming overtop increasingly dense synths and horn pads. “Not This Time” features neo-soul/post-punk vocalist Elly Hofmaier. The track expands the group’s instrumentation (adding flute and bass clarinet) and features interplay between Purdy’s rhodes and Hofmaier’s Badu-esque vocal interjections. 

Chemical Memory” is the first of two tracks featuring guitarist Elvis Phillips. Written by Phillips as a commission for Wave Cage, the piece showcases his intricate compositional and guitar styles. Following “Chemical Memory”, “Home is Here” is the second of Rainey’s three features. Exploring the importance of collaboration in finding community, Rainey recites “It’s about the community you create. The home you create. Make space for those like you. Make this place full of mess, crazy with color, rowdy with rule-breakers. We welcome you.”

Bumpus” is the second track featuring Phillips, written as commission for Wave Cage by producer Kyler Boss. The most aggressive piece on the record, Phillips leans into heavily distorted chords backed by Wave Cage’s dissonant horn harmonies to build intensity into “Are You Listening?” – the final track that features Rainey’s poetry. The piece is a poignant call to action: “Don’t take it for granted that we are the voices our ancestors needed. Are you listening? The people protest in the streets and in the street music, on the page and on the stage, it’s no wonder we’re so loud. But now it’s your turn to turn down all the answers that keep you stable. Sit at the table with us and sing a song of questions. Sacrifice your comfort, come forward with us, explore the possibility of being wrong.”

The closing track, “No Them (Only Us)” features University of Northern Iowa professor Christopher Merz on alto saxophone, Kyler Boss on synths, and Downbeat award-winning composer Michael Conrad on trombone. Written by Conrad as a commission for Wave Cage, the song thematically wraps up the album by reinforcing the guiding principle of collaboration: power comes from the collective. There is no finger-pointing, no unjust exclusion, no “them”. There’s only “us”, working to be welcoming to one another, learning and growing through shared experiences, and collaborating to bring out the best in ourselves and each other.

Even You Can See in the Dark shines a light on Iowa’s often overlooked by clearly bright modern music scene, with Wave Cage firmly at the center, while lifting the community and voice around them.