"You, me, and time -- we always are, because we never were..."
Truly one of the most unique, eclectic acts to emerge from the 1990s. This Jersey City-based duo, consisting of brothers Attrell Cordes (Prince Be/The Nocturnal) and Jarrett Cordes (DJ Minutemix/The Eternal) managed to fuse old-school soul, psychedelia, hip-hop, and pop into a style all their own, capped off with a spiritual and philosophical aesthetic not seen in "black" music since a southerner named Herman Blount reinvented himself as a native of Saturn by the name of Sun Ra.
The brothers emerged in the late 80's, recording their first single "Ode to a Forgetful Mind" in 1988.
Three years later, they released their first full-length
Of the Heart, Of the Soul, Of the Cross: The Utopian Experience. The album was a groovy affair, pairing Prince Be's introspective vocals with revolutionary
(at the time, at least) hip-hop production: The Beatles, Chick Corea, Sly and The Family Stone and The Doobie Brothers were among the sampled material. The album yielded a hit single in Set Adrift On Memory Bliss, a minor classic bolstered by a sample of new-wave pioneers Spandau Ballet's 1983 hit True. This rather conventional love song boasts some of the unconventional, near-cinematic lyrics ever penned, a trademark of the Dawn:
The camera pans the cocktail glass,
behind a blind of plastic plants;
I found the lady with the fat diamond ring.
then you know I can't remember a damn thing.
I think it's one of those deja vu things,
or a dream that's tryin' to tell me something.
Or will I ever stop thinkin' about it.
I don't know, I doubt it...
After a stint with Peter Gabriel's World of Music and Dance (WOMAD), the brothers released their sophomore effort, The Bliss Album...? (Vibrations of Love and Anger and the Ponderance of Life and Existence), in the spring of 1993. Among the highlights were a new-jack cover of The Beatles' Norwegian Wood, a string-laden ballad (To Love Me More), and a duet with Boy George (More Than Likely). While not as earth-shattering as their debut, this album provided a much-needed respite from the hardness and gangsta posturing of hardcore hip-hop.
Jesus Wept, the third shot fired in this music revolution, was released in October of 1995. This is perhaps the most complete album produced by the duo, and the most explicit in its spirituality (the title comes from the Book of John). The album's intro is perhaps the best ever recorded for any album: an artfully-arranged collage of voices and sounds, including snippets from Marvin Gaye ("an artist is truly an artist if he wants to do the will of God...), Jim Morrison, Schoolhouse Rock, and Linus writing to The Great Pumpkin.
The 15 tracks that make up Jesus Wept is perhaps the most solid, dreamy rotation of songs ever put to wax.
Downtown Venus is the kind of psychedelic workout that Lenny Kravitz has been desperately itching toward for years. Sonchyenne is simply too beautiful for words. Sometimes I Miss You So Much is pure hip-hop soul, minus the banality that latter-day practitioners of the genre rely on. The album closes in grand style with covers of 1999, Once In A Lifetime, and Coconut, the latter of which would make Nilsson himself proud.
Matrimony and parenthood were next on the menu, giving our hero Prince Be more material to compose with. And so came the fourth full-length excursion, Dearest Christian, I'm So Very Sorry For Bringing You Here. Love, Dad. The Christian in the album's title refers to his baby son, an innocent creature in a sick sad world. The music is vintage Dawn, with the prerequisite ballad (I Had No Right), Beatles-nod (Hale-Bopp Regurgitations) and excursion into the unknown (Untitled).
Currently, PM Dawn is at work on numerous projects, including a track for next summer's Spiderman film, as well as a new album, tentatively titled Walk On Water. These and other projects are chronicled online @
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