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Talking about Captain Squeegee's new album, To the Bardos, frontman Danny Torgersen is excited about the songwriting and the performances, and he's excited about the crowdfunding campaign that made it possible — he's excited about most things, to be honest. But that's not what he's most excited about. "I think Bob Hoag saved the record," he tells me. Hoag, who recorded and produced the album at Flying Blanket Recording in Mesa, was the impetus for all the crowdfunding in the first place.
"There's seven of us playing, like, 10 instruments . . . and there's always been this problem where by the time we're done recording you can't hear anything." The way he says it, it sounds like the problem is mystifying him even now, with copies of the record sitting shrink-wrapped in his backpack.
That's the big deal about To the Bardos, really: If you haven't seen the band in concert, this is the first chance you'll get to know what Captain Squeegee sounds like. The unwieldy klatsch of horn players and guitarists is separated in the mix now, and Torgersen is willing to send most of the credit Hoag's way — the added clarity, the professional equipment, even the ability to tell them what not to play. "He said 'no' to me more than I've ever heard the word in the studio, and he was the first person I believed when he said it . . . He was like an uncle I could trust with my children for the summer."
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So now they have a record that sounds like Captain Squeegee sounds — few overdubs, little they can't re-create live, just the sound of a very large band in a reasonably sized room. Squeegee needs that kind of audio business card more than most, because it's an especially difficult band to explain to a third party. So there are horns, but Squeegee isn't a ska band, and — well, no, they still kind of groove a little, just not with all the upstrokes, and — the lyrics? Well, it's about believing in yourself and also freemasonry, and — and, yes, they're serious. Then they've got this web series about lucid dreaming, if you're — yes, lucid dreaming, like being able to know you're flying, for one thing . . . and then you're trying to explain lucid dreaming to your third party, and both of you have forgotten about To the Bardos.
It's all of that, though, and most of it's finally audible. The parts that aren't in the mix are in the packaging, another thing the members of Captain Squeegee have been talking up since the crowdfunding campaign began; one tier of crowdfunders will get the album in a USB key shaped, well, like a key, and filled with behind-the-scenes video and footnotes and UFO sightings and cross-references enough to re-create the album from scratch in a clean room.
The lyrics, too, are more discernible than ever, and if you stop to listen to them, you might be more, rather than less, confused, at least at first. Torgersen's lyrical world is divorced from Occam's Razor — there's a wild, unknown history lurking behind not just the bad parts of history but the good stuff, too, one group of conspirers out to commit false-flag war crimes and another out to help you realize your full trans-human potential.
It's not an act, or if it is an act, it's one that extends to his Facebook page. But he wants the ideas behind the songs — or just the sheer volume of ideas in the music, the background radiation sending you to a million Wikipedia pages — to appeal to everyone. He tells me he isn't looking to exclude people who accept the full opinion of the Warren Commission, even though he (in no uncertain terms) does not.
Now that the album is out — the crowd has funded, and the songs have been recorded, and the CDs pressed — Captain Squeegee has its best chance yet to induct fans into its own secret society. Whether you say the vows or not, it's worth sitting in on this meeting.