Monday, December 28, 2009



Indie Rock

Magic Hour formed in 1993 and disbanded in 1996 -- it was a free-form freak out quartet with Damon & Naomi in the rhythm section, and Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar (of Crystalized Movements/Vermonster/BORB fame) on guitars.

Wayne Rogers (now plays in Major Stars) - Guitar, Vocals
Damon Krukowski - Drums
Naomi Yang - Bass
Kate Biggar (now plays in Major Stars) - Guitar


Artwork By [Design] - Naomi Yang
Engineer - Tom Leonard (from Major Stars, see :
Performer - Damon Krukowski , Kate Biggar , Naomi Yang , Wayne Rogers
Producer, Arranged By - Magic Hour
Songwriter - Wayne Rogers (tracks: 1, 2, 4 to 8)

This first edition is limited and numbered to 1000 copies.
The second edition was released in a jewel case.
Comes in a letterpressed silver cardboard box with booklet.


01 Isn't A Way
02 Always Leaving Never
03 Sally Free And Easy
Songwriter - Cyril Tawney
04 After Tomorrow
05 Lower
06 World Of One
07 The Last Mistake
08 Heads Down #2


HEADS DOWN (7") (1993)

09 Heads Down (Part 1)
10 Heads Down (Part 2)

Link to download:

In the early nineties, you worked with ex-Galaxie 500's Damon Krakowski and Naomi Yang in Magic Hour. How did you come in contact with them?

Wayne Rogers
"Crystalized Movements opened for them two or three times, at their request. We were always amazed when somebody liked us. It was rare in those days."

In perspective, if you listen to, let's say, MH's No Excess Is Absurd after Mind Disaster it seems like you were influenced by the mellow, slowcore sound of Galaxie 500. Do you agree, or were you just looking for new ways to develop your music?

Wayne Rogers
"I liked their band, but that stuff really didn't have much of an influence. It was more of an opening up of possibilities, particularly in being able to bring more delicate material in without it being beaten to a pulp. Though Damon and Naomi were good at that too when duty called (laughs)."

So how did you hook up with Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar - how did Magic Hour come about?

"The Shimmy record was released in late 1992, and early 1993 we came home one evening, and found a message on our answering machine: "Hello, this is Kate Biggar, from Crystalized Movements. We played shows together twice, do you remember? Well, Wayne and I have lost our rhythm section and we have a bunch of shows and we were wondering would you and Damon like to fill in?" We were quite intrigued!"

"They had just moved to Boston, where we live, and had lost their rhythm section (the bass player was a preacher, no joke, and had been assigned to a parish too far away to make rehearsals; and their drummer had taken a job in Northampton, Massachusetts, a town that is also too far for rehearsals in Boston but is known around the world as the home of Byron Coley)."

"Crystalized Movements was a band we had always liked a lot, but their music was completely different from what we had ever done. It was the opposite of the laid-back Galaxie thing. But we liked the image of our being able to sit in with a completely different sound, as if we were a rhythm section for hire, so we called them back and said, ok, let's try it.
So, all the drums and the bass amp came out of the closet again, and we went over to jam. Wayne had sent us a tape of some C.M. songs that he wanted us to learn, but it just didn't work. We hadn't tried to "learn" the old parts to mimic them, and so we just played along in our own way, subsequently demolishing the C.M. songs. But it sounded promising, if not like C.M., and, as Wayne later confessed to us, he and Kate were amazed how we just didn't stop.
DK and I felt like we were finally able to live out our Can fixation. And so, by the end of the evening, Wayne and Kate suggested dissolving C.M. for real, and starting a new band together, with new songs. We thought it over for a few days. DK and I were both excited and reluctant. We had retired. We were through with music, etc. etc. But then we thought, as we usually do, what the hell, and said yes. And so Magic Hour was born."

Turning to Magic Hour now, here we have the classic example of a band who we always intended to cover in depth in the Terrascope but who unfortunately split up before we had a chance to do justice to them (although somewhere there's an unpublished interview writer Kevin Moist did for us which I'd still like to run if we ever get time to transcribe it). They released three albums, the last of which, "Secession '96", is arguably the most interesting insofar as in addition to the expected lengthy electric guitar storms it contained two shorter acoustic folk improvisations on which Naomi traded her bass for what sounds like an harmonium and Kate worked with a dulci-guitar. Did these portend a new direction for the band at the very end of their short career? What sort of reception did this album receive?

"Actually it was a Sruti box, a little droning instrument, like a Harmonium but without a keyboard. You're stuck with the notes you've chosen at the beginning of the song. It is only now that I have a Harmonium! "

"Magic Hour was mostly ignored in its short sweet life, and that Kevin Moist interview was actually the only real interview we ever did as a group - he also wrote one of the nicest reviews we ever got. I guess there aren't a lot of Magic Hour fans in the world, but the few there are work hard at it! The quiet improvisations on Secession '96 seemed to me less like a new direction than the same idea on different instruments - it was surprising how quickly we each fell into our respective roles, despite the lack of amplification. But what was different about those, as your question implies, was that they were improvisations.
The bulk of Magic Hour material was actually very carefully worked out, with room for improvisation built in, but within rather rigid structures. That was the question we were constantly wrestling with as a band: how much to rely on structure, how much to allow ourselves to improvise, how to keep the improvisation from wandering off, how to keep the structure interesting.
On the track from Secession '96 called "Sunrise," the acoustic part was written, but the electric part was an improvisation - in fact we tried to recreate that piece a number of times, in order to refine it, but it just got worse, so in the end we used our first rehearsal tape, on cassette! It's a little murky as a result, but Wayne really believed in that take, and it became clear to us that we were never going to get back to it in a deliberate manner. Other songs only got better as we replayed them. We never understood what the differences came from."

Magic Hour toured both Europe and America fairly extensively - to what sort of reception?

"In places like New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Chicago it really felt like there was a core of people who were getting what we were doing. But aside from London, we were pretty unpopular everywhere in Europe. And, while a bunch of fanzines have been supportive here, most of the British press, yourself excluded, absolutely hated us, and wrote some really mean things, especially about Wayne. But we met with a lot of disdain everywhere. I really was affected by the difficult tours and all the negativity about what we were doing. And although Galaxie 500 was really not very popular outside of the larger urban centres we never generated as much open hostility as Magic Hour. "

"On our last couple of tours, we were playing only "Passing Words" and "Rosebud" - two half-hour songs. It was exhausting! It was also a little relentless; we didn't even vary their order in the set, because they didn't seem to work as well the other way round. But after a while we just couldn't see performing the shorter songs any more; they felt like rehearsals in public, or like reading off a script. Those two long songs demanded a real performance, they pulled us into the moment. Which was the goal of Magic Hour performances, I think - those times when the music took off, we played things we never thought we could play, the song suddenly posed new demands, new possibilities opened up."

"The live shows really were quite something, I must admit. Damon and I tended to hang back and do our thing, while Kate and Wayne went quite mad on stage. Wayne would start this trance-like pacing back and forth with a glazed look in his eyes, and he would literally run me over if I didn't watch out. Meanwhile, you never could tell where Kate was going to be. Standing up on the monitor, playing her guitar against the club ceiling, or with some old umbrella she found at the side of the stage."

"Awesome guitar/psych gem by ex-Galaxie 500 axeman’s duo:Damon & Naomi…
Long tracks full of distorted guitarleads,spacey vibe,dreamy and deranged vocals…"

"Who knows if this little album will ever become one of those "legendary collaborations" because it features the Galaxie 500 rhythm section Damon Kurkowski and Naomi Yang alongside Magic Hour guitar wunderkinds Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar? Doesn't make any difference, really. No Excess Is Absurd is proof in the pocket that in 1994 Rogers was kicking out some of the best psychedelic rock ever. The other little wonder in all this is how perfect this quartet sounds as a band, as if they had been playing together for decades instead of a couple of months before recording this.
The disc opens with "Isn't a Way," a droning, pulsing psych number that steadily forges its simple riff into your brain. Rogers is no vocalist so whatever he's singing is unintelligible anyway, so there's a further entrancing element. And then, there's this guitar that comes washing over you like a tidal wave, screaming with blistering, sloppy arpeggios playing off another guitar offering a wall of controlled feedback for it to smash its body upon. The tune splits itself down the middle and collapses in on itself in a throbbing, exhausted heap with the reverb still bouncing off the walls. There's a gorgeous electric/acoustic cover of "Sally Free and Easy" here as well, with Yang singing lead. One is reminded of Buffy Sainte-Marie's "Codeine," in the chord changes and in Yang's lilting, languid vocal. Over nine minutes in length, it offers yet another opportunity to Rogers and Biggars to work their guitar magic and place it into overdrive while somehow keeping Yang's vocal on the top. This is the Velvets meeting the Quicksilver Messenger Service at Jesse Colin Young's house. The disc ends with "Heads Down #2," a song reminiscent of Crazy Horse minus Neil Young, with Nils Lofgren playing lead guitar.
The wondrously knotty melody, with its intricate turns and odd time shifts, is the kind of tune J. Mascis dreams about writing. There's a summery pop quality to the melody that is hovering over all those dark rhythms and blazing guitar demonism. When Kurkowski has his fill in the middle of the tune, Rogers takes off for parts unknown, effects flailing and distorting the sound so completely one note cannot be distinguished from another because it's one big roar, the lead and rhythm guitars walling off each other in the feedback and creating a space of great beauty to either rise up in or die — it hardly matters. This was the first of three albums for this quartet between 1994-1996; and while they are all very fine, this one, for its loose, cavorting excesses, is special indeed."


Arranged By, Producer - Magic Hour
Artwork By [Design] - Naomi Yang
Engineer - Tom Leonard
Written By - Wayne Rogers

Recorded Summer / Autumn 1994 at Twisted Village


01 Something Else
02 I Had A Thought
03 Chance Was
04 When I Remembered
05 Jonathan & Charles
06 Passing Words
07 America (B- side of I Had A Thought / America 7" 1995)
08 Permanent Green Light (B-side of After Tomorrow 10" 1994)

Link to download:

"The second effort from our most popular quartet. One-half locked in the studio downer pop song serenity, one half the high decibel improvisation that has delighted concertgoers across the globe (well, the ones who don't walk out when they realize that the song might really have no end)."

Magic Hour famously toured the U.S. with Ghost of course, but then you paid them a return visit at home in Japan I believe?

"It's funny how that U.S. tour came about. There's a booking agent over here that kept asking to work with Magic Hour, but we had heard mixed reports about him, so we told him, yeah, we'd work with him if he could get us Ghost as an opening act. "Ghost?" he said, "from Japan?" "Yeah," we said, "They're our favourite band." We didn't hear back from him for a long time, which is what we figured would happen. But then one day he called and said, "I got them." We said, "Got what?". "Ghost", he said. "I wrote them, and they wrote me back. They'll be here to do that tour with you." That's how that happened! The tour was kind of hellish, but it was also a dream. Ghost are a very special band, and they are at the height of their powers. The shows were amazing every night.
So then about six months later, Naomi and I were invited to Japan by Kramer. This story has a long history, because when Galaxie 500 broke up, we had been scheduled to tour Japan. Naomi and I were very eagerly looking forward to it, and so was Kramer - we had promised to take him as our sound man. When Dean quit, among our first reactions was, "What about Japan?!" Kramer was so upset at losing the trip to Japan he actually tried to talk Dean into going, despite the fact that he had already quit. We weren't even speaking to each other, but Kramer still wanted us to go to Japan together!
Then, last year, Kramer was invited to Japan himself - it took that long before another opportunity for him to get there arose. And he did one of the nicest things, he called us up and asked us to come, too. We were going to bring him when we were able, and now he was offering to do the same for us. It was really wonderful, because it brought the uncompleted trip to a conclusion. I think it has helped close out that whole horrible episode for us."

"This is Magic Hour's finest — pardon the pun — hour. The album is filled with great 3-5 minute pop songs (complete with Wayne Rogers' freakout guitar flourishes) and one great 20-minute extended jam that weaves its way and builds up to a breathtaking crescendo. While Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang's free-floating bass and drum work is still reminiscent of Galaxie 500, this album sounds nothing like their former band. Absolutely essential."

"When all my cd's got ripped off a few years ago this is one of only 3 that I immediately went out and replaced. Just awesome."

"Droning monotonous vocals cripple this album and make every track sound like the one right before it. The music itself is ok... but the album never feels like it "goes" anywhere thanks to the vocals. Avoid."

"Magic Hour, which teams Rogers and longtime partner Kate Biggar (guitar) with ex-Galaxie 500 constituents Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang (who record on their own as Damon and Naomi), is unequivocally the most graspable of the lot — which means the band's space-rock sculptures maintain shapes for up to 30 seconds at a time. The general vibe exuded is that of a dank-hued rejoinder to a new generation of post-hippie revivalists, a Velvet Underground to Phish's Grateful Dead. While hardly nihilistic, No Excess Is Absurd reflects a certain affinity for decay, both in the slowly unraveling melodies of feedback-dosed tracks like "Isn't a Way" and "Heads Down #2" and a pervasive lassitude that recalls the earliest output of Pere Ubu.

On Will They Turn You on or Will They Turn on You, the quartet sails right past "slowcore" and "psychedelic." Krukowski and Yang assert themselves a bit more extensively on this outing, lending a propitiatory placidity to deliberately paced songs like "Chance Was" and "When I Remembered." The impassive rhythms frame Rogers' pensive vocals nicely, but 20-plus minutes of the relentless "Passing Words" — with extended improvisational do-si-dos — provide the album's strongest magic. A similar sensibility invested the increasingly inflamed live sets that led up to the recording of the idyllic improv track (yes, just one) that constitutes the breathtaking Secession '96."

More review:

SECESSION 1996 (1996)

Naomi Yang - Design, Photography
Engineer - Tom Leonard
Producer, Arranger - Magic Hour


01 Sunset One
02 Rosebud
03 Sunrise
04 Sunset Two

Link to download:

"Wayne, Kate, Damon, & Naomi let their instrumental instincts shine forth on their last CD U.S. only release. (No import whinyl) This disc documents the band's ascension to another level, and they hope to take the listener along by any means necessary. Clocks in at 46 minutes with two electric and two mostly acoustic songs. "Rosebud" clocks in at 20:45, recorded the day after finishing the Ghost tour. It's an object of precision, being very carefully worked out in rehearsals and on the road. In contrast, the 13:47 "Sunrise" is a very, very early take captured on cassette 4-track. All of what's happening after the first three minutes is improvised. Bon Appetit!"

So did you go to Japan purely as Kramer's guests or as a band?

"That was the only hitch: we had to earn our trip. Kramer wanted me to play drums for him, and if Naomi was to come then he said we would also have to play an opening set as Damon & Naomi. The problem was we had never performed as Damon & Naomi, and we really didn't want to. But a trip to Japan! We said yes. And just as when he forced us back in the studio to make "More Sad Hits", forcing us to play a Damon & Naomi show turned out to be a great thing for us. Getting on stage and singing still isn't something I long to do very often, but it was a really amazing experience to perform our own songs.
I felt a different connection to the audience than I ever had before. We asked our friends in Ghost if they would play with us, so Batoh played electric guitar, Ogino played keyboards, and Yamazaki played drums. Kramer played a second acoustic guitar (I played acoustic) and sometimes a second bass (Naomi doesn't like to sing and play bass at the same time, it's either/or), and sang harmony. It was chaotic, as we had only one rehearsal all together, but it was a lot of fun."

How, when and why did Magic Hour decide to call it a day?

"After our Magic Hour tour in the fall of 1995, which was more successful than the tour we had had with Ghost the previous spring, but still rather exhausting, we took a break. We have always had a very good friendship with Kate and Wayne; we used to joke that we were terrible at rehearsing but very good at going out to dinner together. Well, we all just sort of stopped rehearsing. We still ate dinner together and went out all the time and assumed that we would rehearse eventually. But then, at some point Wayne and Kate suggested what maybe had been in the back of all our minds, that perhaps we should call it quits. And we agreed. Although we all felt sad about it, it seemed the right thing to do."

"I think we see each other more now than we did when we were in a band together. Plus Kate and Wayne have now opened their amazing record store Twisted Village, which is like a clubhouse for all we freaks here in Boston."

"Before I relate that this album is thick and richly textured, seeming to rise up and out of the ground, hovering somewhere just out of reach, yet right in front of you at the same time, let me say that ‘Magic Hour’ have produced probably the finest ambient rock I have ever heard.

There are no lyrics, so my initial take was to be waiting for those illusive words which never came. Yet the more I listened, the less important the idea of lyrics became. I dislike making comparisons, because comparisons nearly always fall far from their mark. Never the less, I would be surprised if like me, you don’t hear vestiges of dirges, echoed by the influence of The Velvet Underground. There are only four tracks on this release, ranging from about four to twenty minutes in length. By the time you center your attention it feels musically like you have been instantly transported to the middle of a song, the jam, the guitar solos that swell and whorl ... lifting you up and setting you back down. But that is the essence of each song, each song appears to be the middle of some larger body of work. Yes, it’s a bit unnerving at first, but it all falls into place as you smile with recognition.

Magic Hour is the brainchild of Bostonian Wayne Rogers, who has released several solo albums on the Twisted Village label in the 1990's, as well as sporadically leading the garage / psychedelic band Crystallized Movements in the 1980's [which managed to release five albums on Twisted Village]. In 1994, the band gained recognition when Rogers and longtime guitar partner Kate Biggar were joined by Galaxie 500's rhythm section Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang, on drums and bass, respectively. From 1994 to 1996, Magic Hour released a string of excellent albums on the Twisted Village label, but the band was largely ignored in the press and certainly by the mainstream. The band's 1994-1996 period was defined by Rogers' psychedelic guitar work, laid atop Damon and Naomi's light as air and always hypnotic playing that helped make Galaxie 500's sound so beautiful. The band rarely toured, except around the New England area, and seemed content to keep releasing annual studio albums. During this period, Rogers continued to put out solo albums while Damon and Naomi focused on running their independent book publishing company and released two albums on their own in 1993 and 1996.

While you may not often reach for this album, both because of the nature of the music and it’s construction, you will find that when you do reach, it is a very satisfying listen."

"More of the same excellent guitar pyrotechnics by Rogers and Biggar, as well as a constantly improving rhythm section courtesy of Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang. This album features only four relatively long songs, with two shorter songs (clocking at only five to seven minutes) and two much longer ones (between fifteen and twenty minutes long). This is very similar to the other Magic Hour albums, and is only mildly inferior to them."

More review:

Magic Hour is the brainchild of Bostonian Wayne Rogers, who has released several solo albums on the Twisted Village label in the 1990's, as well as sporadically leading the garage/psychedelic band Crystallized Movements in the 1980's (which managed to release five albums on Twisted Village). In 1994, the band gained recognition when Rogers and longtime guitar partner Kate Biggar were joined by Galaxie 500's rhythm section Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang, on drums and bass, respectively. From 1994 to 1996, Magic Hour released a string of excellent albums on the Twisted Village label, but the band was largely ignored in the press and certainly by the mainstream. The band's 1994-1996 period was defined by Rogers' psychedelic guitar work, laid atop Damon and Naomi's light-as air and always hypnotic playing that helped make Galaxie 500's sound so beautiful. The band rarely toured, except around the New England area, and seemed content to keep releasing annual studio albums. During this period, Rogers continued to put out solo albums while Damon and Naomi focused on running their independent book publishing company and released two albums on their own in 1993 and 1996. ~ Kembrew McLeod, All Music Guide

More bio:

No Excess Is Absurd (1994)
Will They Turn You On Or Will They Turn On You (1995)
Secession 96 (1996)

KATE BIGGAR (aka Kate Village) and WAYNE ROGERS
also played in Crystalized Movements (1984-1992. see:, in Vermonster (1990-1993, see: and, in Heathen Shame (2002-2005, see: and currently both play in Major Stars ( and

Musician and creator of Twisted Village label as well Cambridge,MA based record store of the same name. Kate and Wayne, among many other things, now play as Major Stars and own the Twisted Village record store in Cambridge.

More info:

More info of Magic Hour:


"Damon & Naomi have created albums of worldly beauty and individual intimacy."

"Damon and Naomi's preferred status among next-wave elites like the Wire might seem surprising until you realize they were pretty well ahead of the curve in cultivating a pastoral, psych-tinged folkie sound (on prime display on "Cruel Queen," the Yang-fronted ballad that closes Within These Walls)."

"The music of Damon and Naomi is hard to pin down with words. Slow and mysterious, their transcendent folk songs have an intangible glow."

"A prolific psych-folk duo that Stephin Merritt once dubbed "probably the quietest rock group in the United States."

"Damon and Naomi's songs are equally organic: Folky earnestness and psychedelic otherworldliness are fused into perfect little gems"

"we always feel like we are secretly a punk rock band underneath — no matter what the music sounds like. We love the punk rock attitude towards things!" (Naomi)


"Damon: Well, this is a challenge. Let's see: More Sad Hits is for me like an album that we dreamed rather than sang, because when we made it I really didn't think we would ever make a record again. And then suddenly we had. So I would say something confusing and dreamlike to go with it: how about Borges?"

All instruments and vocals by Damon, Naomi, and Kramer
Produced, arranged, and engineered by Mark Kramer (
at Noise New Jersey, Summer 1992
Macioce ( - Photography/Norman Gholson - Photography/Man Ray ( - Cover Photo


01 E.T.A.
02 Little Red Record Co.
03 Information Age
04 Laika
05 This Car Climbed Mt. Washington
06 Memories
07 Astrafiammante
08 Boston’s Daily Temperature
09 (scene change)
10 Sir Thomas and Sir Robert
11 Once More
12 This Changing World

Link to download:

CM: Do you remember how you met each other? How wold were you and where you were when this happened? The first attraction was caused by music or by books? Did you were friends before became lovers or things happened at the same time?

Naomi: "Well, we went to the same school since we were children, but Damon is a year older than I am, so we didn't meet until high school -- until we were about 15 years old. We didn't get together until we were about 17 though -- two wasted years!"

Damon: "When we met, I don't think either of us would have called ourselves a musician. In fact, even today we wonder sometimes! Although there was always a lot of music in our lives -- both our families have musicians in them -- we didn't start making music ourselves until much later. We still sometimes feel like the amateurs in our families, because we were the ones who didn't practice for our lessons as children. Thank God for punk rock!"

Production description
2008 digitally remastered and repackaged reissue of the first album from Damon & Naomi, both formerly of Galaxie 500. This remastered reissue contains new liner notes and photos and it was created as a swan song response to the dissolution of Galaxie 500. More Sad Hits was recorded with Galaxie producer Mark Kramer, and it is just as cutting a reaction to the sinister allure of fame as it was when released back in 1992. Damon & Naomi originally released More Sad Hits on Shimmy Disc one year after the breakup of Galaxie 500, when Dean Wareham left the group to pursue a career with Luna. With no intention of doing any more recording, the duo were nonetheless convinced to go into the studio after Kramer told them he'd assist with both recording and release.

"The first Damon & Naomi LP since the demise of Galaxie 500, More Sad Hits is the duo's strongest effort, although it pales in comparison to the greatness of their former band. In fact, this gauzy LP even fails to measure up to the gorgeous self-titled EP that Damon & Naomi previously released under the name Pierre Etoile, which featured the superb "This Car Climbed Mt. Washington" (of which a less-inspired remake appears here). While far too self-consciously arty for its own good, More Sad Hits does contain a few lovely "moments." Chief among them are the hypnotic "Little Red Record Co.," and an inspired cover of the Soft Machine's "Moments."" ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

"As a fan of mellow pop - for example the Cowboy Junkies, Galaxie 500, Mazzy Star, and VU's third album - I am naturally attracted to this laid-back set. The lyrics are wonderfully written and the songs sweetly crafted. If you're the type of person that needs constant action in life, gunplay and explosions in movies, and bombastic theatrics in music, then this is not the recording for you. But if you enjoy subtlety, simplicity, and contemplation, then this cd will be a wonderful addition to your collection."

"I bought this cd and the playback singers together 3 weeks ago. I am a fan of Galaxie 500 and I liked some Luna stuff but I had never listened to anything by this project, so this reason and the fact that the cd's were very cheap, made me bought both cds. I think this cd is the most accesible of all the albums they have done. If you like Galaxie 500 I'm pretty sure you will like this album. Some songs are as great as Galaxie 500's best songs. The opening track is so beautiful, it sounds like a psychedelic Beatles. I downloaded some songs of the other albums, and I might say this one is my favorite and the closest to Galaxie 500 music."

More reviews:



"Damon: Wondrous World is a record that I think of as very wordy -- I think when we wrote those songs, we wrote the lyrics a little more like folksongs than we usually do, they are not so much embedded in the melodies as accompanying them. So maybe something wordy and folky: how about the 60s novel "Been Down So Long it Looks Like Up to Me," by the folksinger Richard Farina?"

Damon Krukoski - Guitar, Drums, Vocals
Naomi Yang - Bass, Vocals
Mark Kramer ( - Electric Guitar, Mellotron, Emulator, Clarinet, Tapes, Bass and Backing Vocals
Produced and engineered by Mark Kramer at Noise New Jersey, Summer 1995
Additional engineering by Jed Rothenberg
David Corio ( - Photography

"How Long"


01 In the Morning
02 The New Historicism
03 Tour of the World
04 Forgot to Get High
05 Pyewacket
06 Life Will Pass You By
07 Who Am I
08 New York City
09 Pandora’s Box
10 How Long
11 Whispering Pines

Link to download:

More info with interview:

"Despite borrowing its title from an old Sonny and Cher record, The Wondrous World of Damon & Naomi is hardly the stuff of lightweight, breezy pop fare; much too precious and affected for its own good, the album is at once the duo's most challenging and most disappointing effort, so burdened by its rigorous intellectual aspirations that its more elemental attractions get lost in the shuffle. From the needlessly ponderous "The New Historicism" to the off-putting "Tour of the World," with its ill-fitting bursts of audience applause, the songs consistently fail to congeal -- all too often, they suggest ideas and abstracts that never progressed beyond the conceptual phase. Similarly, a heavy reliance on cover material (including readings of Country Joe and the Fish's "Who Am I" and the Band's "Whispering Pines") reinforces the scarcity of strong original ideas. The Wondrous World's best moments are also its most unapologetically simple, in particular the beatific opening duet "In the Morning" along with "Pyewacket" and "New York City," a pair of sweetly elegiac showcases for Naomi Yang's angelic musings." ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

"This album took me awhile, but I've grown to spin it on a very regular basis. Much more of a psych pop sound then their more introspective material, but it certainly has a charm all it's own."

More review:


"Damon: Playback Singers has a lot of love songs. So I would say love poetry, in your own language: please choose your favorite!"

All instruments and vocals by Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang
Recorded at home, 1996-97
Naomi Yang - Design/David Corio ( - Photography/James Watts - Photography


01 Turn of the Century
02 Eye of the Storm
03 In the Sun
04 The Navigator
05 I’m Yours
06 Kinetoscope
07 Awake in a Muddle
08 We’re Not There
09 Translucent Carriages

Link to download:

"If you tuned out Damon & Naomi after a pair of disappointing solo LPs and a series of rather aimless records as one half of the Magic Hour, Playback Singers is a great chance to get reacquainted -- it's easily their best full-length effort to date, with a haunting beauty recalling the glory days of the Galaxie 500 era. Where so often before the duo's songs evaporated in the mists of their atmospheric production, each track here possesses a form and shape that lends the music a much-needed gravitational center -- for all of their ghostly ambience, highlights like "Turn of the Century" and "In the Sun" also resonate on a deeper emotional level, achieving a finely wrought balance between sound and spirit." ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

"this record is absolutely dazzling, it has some of the most sparse and gorgously arranged instrumentation in recent memory. a real testament to what can be achieved without million dollar production and big studios. there is more emotion per square inch in damon and naomi's arrangements then possibly anything you might buy this year. if you like honest, beautiful music then buy this record and urge your friends to also."

"This is a very good album. The minimal production and airy sounds harken back to Galaxie 500's more mellow numbers. Some of the songs on this record just get crammed into my head and I can't get them out...That's definitely a good sign. The only thing that keeps this from being a truly great album is the relatively static nature of most of the songs. They start off low-key and build to a soft whisper. That's not to say Damon and Naomi need to get loud, but the songs often feel like they want to climax; as if a catharsis is necessary, yet it is never achieved."

"Do not hesitate to buy this. Unsurpassed quality. 'Awake in a muddle describes it all, really. Give this as a Christmas present and make someone happy."

More review:

DAMON & NAOMI & BATOH & KURIHARA - It's All Over Now, Baby Blue / Yoo Doo Right (7") (1999)

Bass, Vocals, Harmonium, Photography, Artwork By [Design] - Naomi Yang
Guitar, Percussion, Backing Vocals - Damon Krukowski
Electric Guitar - Michio Kurihara (see:"With Ghost" album)
Guitar, Vocals - Masaki Batoh (see:"With Ghost" album)
Recorded By - Paul Hilcoff
Artwork By [Label Illustration] - Yumiko Yada
Written-By - Bob Dylan (track 01), Can (track 02)

Recorded live at TT The Bear's, Cambridge, Massachusetts on April 9, 1998.


01 It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
02 Yoo Doo Right


03 Bob Dylan - It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Originally released in 1965)
04 Bob Dylan - It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (from "The Bootleg Series, Vol. 4: The "Royal Albert Hall" Concert. May 17, 1966 at Free Trade Hall, Manchester)
05 Bob Dylan - It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Alternative Take)(from "The Bootleg Series, Vol. 7)
06 Bob Dylan - It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (from "The Bootleg Series, Vol. 5: Bob Dylan Live 1975 - The Rolling Thunder Revue, Forum de Montreal, Canada 4/12/1975.)
07 Can - Yoo Doo Right (1969)
08 Can - Yoo Doo Right (Live At Croydon - Greyhound 4/5/75)

Link to download:

"Post-Galaxie 500, the rhythm section of Damon and Naomi have involved themselves in some choice collaborations. With their gig as half of Wayne Rogers's gloriously short-lived psych unit Magic Hour and stints with acid balladeer Tom Rapp, they have set roots deep underground. Last year's 7" with Masaki Batoh and Michio Kurihara, of Tokyo acid-folksters Ghost, was their most thrilling instalment to date, twinning glorious versions of Dylan's "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" and Can's "You Doo Right". In the afterglow of those sessions, plans for an album were hatched and the resultant disc feels like a balanced, democratic collaboration, with neither unit dominating. Ghost rein in their more prolix tendencies, focussing instead on arrangements of a more intricate grandeur, though guitarist Kurihara still gets plenty of space to bleed all over the tracks. Ghost's faraway sound lends Damon & Naomi's straightahead arrangements a yearning, devotional air. "The Great Wall" hints at the zoned acoustic album that Led Zeppelin and Sandy Denny never made, while their version of Tim Hardin's "Eulogy To Lenny Bruce" recalls the frozen borderlines of Nico's Chelsea Girl reading. It would have been nice to hear more of Batoh's vocals, but either way you could soak in these sounds for days."
-- David Keenan (The Wire)

"Quartet formed by the duo of Damon & Naomi, plus guitarists Masaki Batoh and Michio Kurihara. They do a 7-minute Dylan cover as the A-side, and then this Can cover for the B-side. Wacky. The Can song is pretty much what you'd think, a kind of rambling rock jam, upbeat."

"Damon & Naomi with members of the Japanese band Ghost, recorded April 9, 1998 at TT The Bears in Cambridge MA. The produstion (recorded by Paul Hilcoff) is great, and the performance is spot-on. The songs are covers of songs by Bob Dylan & Can, respectively."


"Damon: With Ghost is a record we made with friends. It is a very happy record for us. A friend of ours recently told me that she thought that if there had been an evil spell on us in any way, we broke it by making that record! I think what she meant is that she could hear us enjoying ourselves. How about the Greil Marcus book about Dylan and the Band making the Basement Tapes? Maybe that's presumptuous -- but we all have to dream!"

Damon Krukowski - Acoustic guitar, drums, vocals
Naomi Yang - Bass, harmonium, vocals

Ghost ( and
Masaki Batoh - Acoustic guitar
Michio Kurihara ( - Electric guitar
Kazuo Ogino - Keyboards

Produced by Damon & Naomi and Masaki Batoh (
Arrangements by Kazuo Ogino
Engineered and mixed by Damon Krukowski at Kali Studios December 1999 — April 2000
Kelly Davidson (Kelly Davidson) - Photography

"Judah And The Maccabees"


01 The Mirror Phase
02 The New World
03 Judah and the Maccabees
04 Blue Moon
05 The Great Wall
06 I Dreamed of the Caucasus
07 Don’t Forget
08 Tanka
09 Eulogy to Lenny Bruce

Link to download:

On "Damon & Naomi With Ghost," tell me about the writing of the songs. Who wrote what? How did it work?

"Well we wrote the songs in the way that we usually write them and then we sent them to Japan on cassettes, with handwritten notes for Ghost to learn. What came back to us was cassettes with Batoh playing the songs — he sort of reinterpreted them — he added some bridges, changed introductions, put in some dramatic pauses."

"He put in some chords that I can't play! (laughter) B Flat Minor 9th's...I had to look them up. But then it turned out that, like a lot of people, he plays by ear and he finds things on his guitar and it was sort of left to us to figure it out like, "What the hell chord is that?!?" But anyway, he enriched a lot of aspects of the songs — what I think they call "pre-production". Which is when George Martin says, "No, open with the chorus." We didn't take all of Batoh’s suggestions, to his frustration, but Ghost altered almost every song in their own way."

"Two of the songs on the record are covers, "Blue Moon" by Alex Chilton [from Big Star] and "Eulogy to Lenny Bruce" by Tim Hardin -- Ghost chose that one, but they took it from the Nico record, "Chelsea Girl". And the second song on the record, "New World", is Batoh’s music. He sent that over to us as sort of..."

"Well, the same form we sent songs to him. Guitar..."

"And some sort of humming."

"So we had the opportunity to do the opposite for him. We added lyrics, and that changed the structure a bit as well."

Is the mystic atmosphere of the album you recorded with the Ghost, an influence of Japan?

"Japan is marvelous, but it has many atmospheres, and most are not very mystical! I think Ghost's version of Japan incorporates the spiritual, ancient aspects that are still there, though hidden by the super-modern, noisy, fashionable street life of the 21st century. Ghost and we share an interest in the artifacts of both our cultures that have survived modern consumer culture. New England, where we live in the US, is actually a very haunted part of our country. There are ghosts all around."

More info with interview:

Having left the quiet-core Galaxie 500 all those years ago to pursue their own even quieter path, Damon and Naomi create music that you don't so much listen to as eavesdrop on. Their quiet, atmospheric ruminations have an overheard quality that suggests a slightly altered state of consciousness. Their sleepy rhythms and obscure, symbolic lyrics make for a late-night brainteaser. On this album the Japanese psychedelic group Ghost add guitar and keyboards to the Spartan proceedings, subtly coloring the gentle hues without trampling on the delicate balance. Two covers, Alex Chilton's "Blue Moon" and Tim Hardin's "Eulogy to Lenny Bruce," garner mixed results. Their version of Chilton's tune doesn't quite have the desperation of the original, while the Hardin cover, modeled on Nico's version of the same song (as featured on the sublime Chelsea Girl), achieves a haunted, alienated effect. There is an enticing strangeness to the duo's aloof manner, and just as they never look into the camera, neither do their songs confront head-on the difficult emotions simmering under the surface. --Rob O'Connor

"By turns breathtakingly radiant and heartbreakingly melancholy, Damon and Naomi With Ghost finds these kindred spirits joining forces to make the most transcendent music of their respective careers; the two units' celestial acid folk sensibilities dovetail perfectly, illuminating their shared marriage of intensity and serenity to mesmerizing effect. With Ghost's Masaki Batoh essentially assuming the production duties so long held by longtime Damon and Naomi collaborator Kramer, Krukowski and Yang's dreamily contemplative songs strike a perfect balance between earthbound humanity and mystical otherness; the record is both comforting and challenging, its placid surfaces masking poignant meditations on resignation, dislocation, and loss. A profoundly spiritual thread weaves throughout the songs as well; from the Buddhist chants that underscore "The New World" to the Jewish lore that inspired "Judah and the Maccabees," this is sacred music for the new millennium." ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

"This is truly one of the best albums of 2000. The psychedelia of Japan's Ghost fits the folkish pop of Damon & Naomi to near perfection. The lyrics are flavored strongly by the spiritual (specifically biblical) current that runs throughout without pedaling any specific set of beliefs - more of a glimpse into the emotional state of the individuals found in religious tales. Ideal for quieter moments."

"While some bands produce "driving" music, D&N's work is more suitable for your funeral cortege. While they may have a new collaborator here, the real ghost that always accompanies them is the spectre of their wonderful work with Galaxie 500, but they have made peace with it. This cd is never going to touch the heights of Galaxie 500, but it's still a mighty fine example of pastoral introspection. " Music to fall asleep to" is usually used as a criticism, but let this lull you into dreams with its gentle textures."

"This is one of the most beautiful and delicate albums out there. It is certainly unique in that it is both hearfelt and innovative. If you dug Galaxie 500, you will love it. It is slow, and requires a certain amount of patience. Contrary to what other posts about this record say, it is very melodic and very subtle at the same time."

"For some unknown reason Sub-Pop decided not to release this on Vinyl and so Drag City did instead. It is not entirely obvious to the casual observer but this album was literally recorded with Ghost; Ghost being the psychedelic heavy chamber folk prog rock band from Japan. In my humble opinion Damon and Naomi released some of the best albums of the nineties, following on the sterling work they had performed as rhythm section and, mainly, backing vocalists of Galaxie 500, perhaps the best band ever to have graced this planet, and have started what might be the new decade (depends on where one considers the new millenium to have started) with one of the best albums of the year 2000. Like their previous proper LP (the last was a compilation of singles)I found that this album didn't initially grab me, unlike their first, More Sad Hits. But after a couple of listenings it brilliance showed through. Damon and Naomi produce folky pop songs with oft religious, classical or drug related lyrics and here Ghost add their own strange dimension; Mantric backing vocals, proggy guitars and general weirdness. This album is mellow and psychedelic but at the same time with a strange energy that sometimes makes you want to spin round the room and at othertimes lie on the floor and stare into space. A friend who I recently played it to was immediate hooked but described it as Easy Listening influenced. In the end it doesn't matter, you need to own it, I would proudly place this next to my Can collection."

More review:


"We have a weakness for live albums," says Krukowski, though "Song to the Siren" is the duo's first. "There is a . . . certain nakedness on stage that you can't get in a studio environment.

Damon Krukowski - Acoustic guitar, vocals
Naomi Yang - Bass, harmonium, vocals
Michio Kurihara (from Ghost, see above) - Electric guitar
Produced by Damon & Naomi
Recorded by Joan Vich Montaner
Edited and mastered by Alan Douches (
Irene Trudel ( - Cover Photo/ Laurent Orseau ( - Photography

"I Dreamed of the Caucasus"


01 Judah and the Maccabees
02 The New World
03 Eye of the Storm
04 Song to the Siren
05 The Navigator
06 The Great Wall
07 I Dreamed of the Caucasus
08 New York City
09 Tanka
10 Turn of the Century
11 Love

Link to download:


Product Description
After the Damon & Naomi with Ghost record came out in the Fall of 2000, Damon & Naomi toured extensively with Ghost guitarist Kurihara. This live CD captures a memorable performance in San Sebastian, Spain. And, packaged with the CD is a 54-minute DVD tour diary made by Damon & Naomi, chronicling their European tour.

Song to the Siren follows 2000's Damon and Naomi with Ghost, a latter-day psych-folk landmark that found the veteran indie-rock duo collaborating with the Japanese band Ghost. This collection doesn’t display the sonic variety and detailing of the studio album, but the relatively spare disc has its own charms. A cover of Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren" is one of the album's highlights. The couple's vocals, Yang's melodic bass, and Kurihara's delicate fingerings give full expression to the song's mystery and romance. Kurihara's playing is fine throughout, whether he's producing watery arpeggios, cello-like tones, or searing solos. Live discs often drain the atmosphere right out of a band's music, but that isn’t the case here. This quiet album is brimming with mood and nuance. --Fred Cisterna

"Recorded live in San Sebastian, Spain, in support of their brilliant collaboration with the Japanese psych band Ghost, Song to the Siren is a near-perfect introduction to the wondrous world of Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang. In sharp contrast to virtually all other live acts, the twosome's music seems even more fragile and stark on-stage, its achingly spiritual beauty further enhanced by a crowd as reverentially quiet as church parishioners. While most of the material emanates from the With Ghost LP, the inclusion of earlier fan favorites like "Turn of the Century," "Eye of the Storm," and "The Navigator" colors in the duo's back catalog, and Michio Kurihara of Ghost accentuates the melodies with droning guitar figures as eerie and evocative as a theremin's wail. The disc includes a bonus DVD video tour diary directed by Yang, complete with a track of commentary that she provides along with Krukowski." ~ Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

"This two disc set documents Damon & Naomi's European tour. The first disc is a recording from their show in San Sebastian, Spain. The quality of both the recording and performance are superb. While performing as a trio (with expert guitar flourishes from Michio Kurihara of Ghost), they decided to ditch the drumkit (kind of a pity, as Damon Krukowski is one of the few rock drummers whose style can be described as "ethereal" or "dreamy") and go with acoustic guitar, electric guitar (wailing e-bow leads or tastefully plucked accompaniments), electric bass, and harmonium.
Even with three instruments, they manage to crank out a dense, dreamy sound, presenting interesting variations of tunes from their last three albums (but somehow overlooking their absolutely faboo 'More Sad Hits' LP). Definite high point is the title track, the Tim Buckley cover where they score points in my book for using his original lyric, "I'm as puzzled as the oyster". Kurihara's lead guitar work occasionally approaches and even crosses the "wank" line, but all in all, this is a very mellow, pensive, yet intense live album.
The second disc is a DVD that chronicles the places and people that these three encountered during their tour. Among the cast of characters and opening bands documented here: the Clientele getting almost "Interstellar Overdrive"-ish, a Joy Division tune covered in Welsh (appropriately enough, in Manchester), the multi-accented British businessman reading the various reviews of Damon & Naomi, the absolutely incongruous opening band in Amsterdam with their anthemic "kill all intellectuals" rocker, the "dressing room" at their Paris gig, etc. I think this was all done with hand-held digital video, but it's well edited and quite entertaining. There's also the commentary track, but we've yet to watch that one. We will, tho'. Soon.

Oh, yeah. There's also a Gram Parsons tune covered on the DVD which doesn't appear on the first disc (prolly cos they didn't play it in Spain?...)."

More reviews:


"We were thinking that George Bush wants to create a world where you can’t go abroad, the dollar is worth less, everybody hates Americans. So we’re interested in the rest of the world, even if he isn’t. We wanted to say something positive in the midst of really dark times, and that’s as political as it gets."

Damon Krukowski – Acoustic guitar, drums, vocals
Naomi Yang – Bass, keyboards, vocals
Michio Kurihara (from Ghost, see above and and – Electric guitar
Greg Kelley (from Nmperign, see and - Trumpet (tracks 01, 03, 06, 10)
Bhob Rainey (from Nmperign, see and - Soprano Sax (tracks 01, 03, 06, 10)
Dana Kletter ( - Piano (track 05)
Produced by Damon & Naomi
Engineered & mixed by Damon Krukowski at Kali Studios 2003 – 2004
Mastered by Alan Douches ( at West West Side Music

"A Second Life"


01 Beautiful Close Double
02 A Second Life
03 Malibran
04 House of Glass
05 Sometimes
06 While My Guitar Gently Weeps
07 Ueno Station
08 The Robot Speaks
09 Araçá Azul
10 The Earth is Blue

Link to download:

On your new album Michio Kurihara plays guitar. Is Kurihara a part of the band now? Will "The Earth is Blue" carry the same atmosphere as the one before?

"We try to make each of our albums very distinct, though I'm sure to most people they all sound similar because they are still us. On this one, we worked hard to push the songs harmonically. Naomi switched from harmonium to electric organ and piano, and we used a small horn section, as well as Kurihara's wonderfully versatile guitar sounds, to build more harmonies and textures. And Naomi and I decided to add a full rhythm section to every track — actually, this may be our first album with bass and drums on every song, since Galaxie 500"


"Damon & Naomi's sixth album, The Earth Is Blue, is their first for the duo's newly formed label, 20/20/20. The move away from Sub Pop didn't have any effect on their sound, though; the album is as lovely and inspired as any of their last few, beginning with 1998's Playback Singers. They manage the balance of art and emotion like few other bands, and that balance is as strong as ever here.
The album also continues their collaboration with Ghost's guitarist, Michio Kurihara, much to the duo's benefit. His fluid lines contribute an extra layer of beauty, and he can also add some fire to their often hazy sound, as his incendiary soloing on tracks like "A Second Life" and "House of Glass" attests. Overall, the sound of the record is rich and warm, atmospheric without relying on electronics or over-production. The poetic lyrics, which are quite dense at times, add to the atmosphere, as do the sweeping chord changes, the aching vocals (mostly those of Damon Krukowski), and the parping horns that turn up on a few tracks.
Naomi Yang's vocals seem stronger than ever, positively soulful on "A Second Life," and sweet and strong on "Beautiful Close Double." The vocal duet on the lilting, almost country-inspired "Sometimes" is particularly nice. Going back to Galaxie 500's cover of "Isn't It a Pity," Damon & Naomi have had a soft spot for George Harrison, and their cover of one of his most famous compositions, "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," is a fine tribute. It takes the song at a funereal pace with a heartfelt vocal from Yang, Kurihara adding subdued guitar squiggles in the background before he lays down a subdued jazz solo at the end.
The second half of the record begins to drag just a touch as the hushed and melancholy songs add up, but the fog is lifted by some soaring E-Bow guitar work by Kurihara on the majestic album closer, "The Earth Is Blue." Most bands would have run out of ideas or a reason for being by the time they had been together as long as Damon & Naomi have. No worries about that here. The Earth Is Blue isn't their best work, but it does include some of their most melodic ("Beautiful Close Double"), epic ("House of Glass"), and beautiful ("The Earth Is Blue," "A Second Life") songs, and people who have stuck with them throughout the years will be rewarded by an emotionally powerful, haunting album. Fans of the newly resurgent psych-folk scene should definitely investigate the record and the band, too. They won't be disappointed." ~ Tim Sendra, All Music Guide

"Nothing proves that more than The Earth Is Blue, their first album of new material in five years. Informed by their various experiences, both traveling the world and listening to and reading the greatest of human achievements, Damon & Naomi have created an album of worldly beauty and individual intimacy. The songs are smart and perceptive without forgoing a wide-eyed wonder at the many things there are to experience and learn. In addition to the contributions of Kurihara, trumpeter Greg Kelley and soprano saxophonist Bhob Rainey of Boston’s nmperign add some delicate brass.

“In my garden I’ll raise my life as I like,” Naomi sings on “House Of Glass”. She and Damon have been doing just that for years now, and The Earth Is Blue is proof that you can achieve all you want, while still challenging yourself with the questions that you may never be able to answer. The goal lays in the challenge. As for the result, we can once again quote Naomi, this time from “The Robot Speaks”:

“It’s up to you what the image means.”"

"Damon and Naomi's psych-atmospheric music cannot exactly be defined. However, their mood, emotion given to you can exactly be caught in every second of songs, of the albums. In the "Earth is Blue", this fact is more precise now. Their musical ability in the album is like flying at higher levels in the sky with the colaboration of Ghost guitarist Michio Kurihara as a virtual third group member, penetrated into Damon and Naomi's earth creating the most satisfying and sheerly transfixing work of the twosome's career...Naomi's cover of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", moreover, is going to weep you so high that the next song, "Ueno Station", with its melodramic and tasteful melody, becomes a definite classic in your brain. This album, in my opinion, is the peak of Damon & Naomi's career. Deserved to be bought."

"When I got this, I was expecting indie rock mixed with a little jazz. I got what I expected, only it's a lot slower than I had hoped. By themselves, the songs are good, but I just can't listen to this album all the way through. 'Ueno Station' is a perfect example of how I feel about the album; good music that could drive me insane if I listened to it all the time."

More review: (French)
ttp:// (French)


Damon Krukowski - acoustic guitar, drums, vocals
Naomi Yang - bass, keyboards, vocals
Michio Kurihara (see Damon & Naomi with Ghost album) - electric guitar
Bhob Rainey (see The Earth Is Blue album's credits) - soprano sax
Greg Kelley (see The Earth Is Blue album's credits) - trumpet
Kyle Bruckmann - oboe, english horn
Helena Espvall ( - cello
Margaret Wienk (from Fern Knight, see - cello
Katt Hernandez ( and - violin

Produced by Damon & Naomi
Horn and string arrangements by Bhob Rainey
Engineered and mixed by Damon Krukowski at Kali Studios, 2006 – 2007
Mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Music
Design and still-life photographs by Naomi Yang
Portrait of Damon & Naomi by Norman Gholson

All songs by Damon & Naomi ©2007 Pierre Etoile Musique (BMI) adm. Bug Music
"Cruel Queen" is based on the traditional song "The Trees They Do Grow High"

"Within These Walls"


01 Lilac Land (4:57)
02 The Well (6:18)
03 On The Aventine (3:40)
04 Within These Walls (5:02)
05 Red Flower (4:24)
06 Defibrillation (4:19)
07 Stars Never Fade (6:53)
08 A Silver Thread (4:06)
09 The Turnaround (3:13)
10 Cruel Queen

Link to download:

What were you hoping to accomplish on Within These Walls?

"Last time, we used the horns as a final layer to accent the music that was already there. The only new instrumentation really is the strings, which we’ve never used before. We were sort of thinking of the orchestration on Scott Walker and Nick Drake records and old Frank Sinatra. I’ve been on a huge Sinatra binge for the last two years, particularly his sad albums on Capitol. We got really into the idea of a sad concept album, which is something that we’ve always tried to shy away from. It’s a very small group that we’re working with, but we were thinking in terms of large orchestration. This was the first time where the lyrics were actually the impetus for the specific songs, to let them stand up clearly and be heard. If you listen to the Sinatra records, even when he has a 50-piece orchestra behind him, you can always hear his words. We wanted to do our own version of that. Not that we can sing like him, for God’s sake."

I picked up the International Sad Hits compilation your label put out. How would you say your world travels have affected your songwriting

"The last album self-consciously reflected a lot of those influences. I don’t know if you noticed, but this is actually our first record without a cover song. It’s all about us. The songs are written from a very interior point of view. We actually had our release party in our living room. We’re not the type of people who throw parties. This record is about opening up doors though, so it seemed like an appropriate thing to do. I think the travels still influenced the record, but in a much more internalized way."

Does that mean the record is more comfortable for you, since it’s a more appropriate reflection of yourself?

"Actually, it’s much more uncomfortable. It’s been really difficult for us to release it because there are a lot of private things in there. When Naomi and I are putting songs together, we’re alone. It’s a weird thing to take what you’ve done together for each other and then put it out into the world as this public artifact. The moment when that happens is always pretty difficult."

"The release of their seventh album, 2007's Within These Walls, means that Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang have been releasing albums as a duo for 15 years. Shocking, yes. Even more shocking is that at a point where most bands or artists are well past their sell-by date, Damon & Naomi keep getting better and more interesting.
Their basic sound of gently strummed guitars, melodic bass, innocent vocals, and arty lyrics has been the same since they were two-thirds of Galaxie 500, but each record has seen subtle changes in atmosphere and even some dramatic changes, like adding the guitar of Ghost's Michio Kurihara (a collaboration that has been working beautifully since 2000's Damon & Naomi with Ghost album).
Within These Walls marks a significant change in sound from the duo. Ironically, given the title, it's their first record that sounds like it was made outside the walls of their apartment. Thanks to the string and horn arrangements that add rich texture to the tracks, the sax and trumpet solos that add an occasional flourish, and of course, Kurihara's amazing lyrical and lush guitar, the album has a larger-than-indie sound. Unlike many bands that opt for a wider-screen approach, the addition of extraneous elements doesn't weaken the core strengths of the group. Instead it gives Damon & Naomi's already impressive sound more dynamics and drama. A track like the Krukowski-sung "Defibrillation" is heartbreakingly honest and tense; add the strings and Kurihara's swooping guitar lines, and it's almost unbearable. Every track benefits from the expanded arrangements, and it also helps that the duo has written some very good songs: the title track is achingly beautiful and romantic sung in breathtakingly intimate fashion by Yang, "Stars Never Fade" is a midtempo near-rocker with a scorching Kurihara solo, "Cruel Queen" is a stark and eerie recasting of traditional folk ballad "The Trees They Do Grow High." Elsewhere it's easy to be charmed by "The Turnaround"'s subtle vocal harmonies and lilting melody, the shimmering string arrangement on "Lilac Land," the strutting horns on "On the Aventine," or Yang's splendid vocals throughout the album.
Within These Walls ranks alongside Damon & Naomi's best work (their time with Galaxie 500 included) and is proof of their formidable staying power both artistically and as a band." ~ Tim Sendra, All Music Guide

"Since 1992-- when they were best known as the rhythm section for the much-loved Galaxie 500-- Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang have occupied the kind of niche it's hard to imagine many new indie bands falling into: They make modest, sleepy, intimate folk records, one every few years, around tours and collaborations and running a small label and small press. They've found a pleasant nook and they keep to it, commanding just enough respect and attention to remain comfortably unbothered. Within These Walls-- reviewed here belatedly, and with apologies-- is the latest missive from that nook, and it's a bit difficult to wrap one's head around: It's the best-sounding Damon & Naomi release in a while, but it's also, somehow, less engaging than a lot of the duo's back catalog, a string of records that weren't hugely bothered with "engagement" in the first place.

The shift in sound is both gorgeous and timely. The current fashion in indie folk music, after all, is for the freak-- something dark, mysterious, and shot through with psychedelics, as if made by hairy, acid-damaged people in forests at night. It's a treat to hear these two shoot off in the opposite direction: Where previous records from them have been cozy to the point of small-room claustrophobia, this one is positively outdoorsy. The horns that murmur through "On the Aventine" conjure up open sky, either sun-filled or pleasantly gray; the production sparkles breezily, and makes you want to throw open your windows, take a short stroll. As background music, it's unimpeachably beautiful, warm and understated. There's a realism, space, and depth of field to the sound that's a very welcome respite from the compressed, blaring way most things are produced these days; it suits the band perfectly.

The album is at its best when that sound combines with the work of longtime D&N collaborator Michio Kurihara, of the (more interesting) Japanese psych/folk group Ghost: His guitar leads, solos, and embellishments here are flat-out soaring. It's that fact, unfortunately, that underlines what's so problematic about Within These Walls. When Kurihara's playing, the album veers into terrific instrumental music, with that guitar confidently occupying center stage, holding the reins firmly; but when either Damon or Naomi are singing, things falter. Sometimes it's the lyrics, which read better on paper than they do on speakers; sometimes it's the melodies, which lilt pleasantly but never worm their way very far into one's head. But mostly, I suspect, it's the limitations of those two voices, both of which are smooth, clear, sedate, and close-miced-- tones that work well for fragile bedroom folk, but struggle to command the stage of these wide-open songs, especially when put up against the power of Kurihara's guitar.

This is strange, since so many Damon & Naomi albums have come off the other way: decent albums some of us are more inclined to like because they feature the right personalities, two people in a nook we like to check in on. Within These Walls feels like the opposite: a very good record weighed down by two personalities who can't quite command it-- like seeing television stars look suddenly awkward and meek on a movie screen. Which is a shame, because when you're not paying enough attention to this record to need a commanding center, it sounds absolutely marvelous."

More review:,_2007).p0-r1229 (Italian) (French)

Damon & Naomi are an American dream pop/folk-rock duo formed in 1991 by Damon Krukowski and Naomi Yang, formerly of Galaxie 500.

Following the 1991 breakup of the seminal trio Galaxie 500, drummer Damon Krukowski and bassist Naomi Yang planned to retire from music; stung by the group's bitter disintegration and left without a label due to the bankruptcy of Rough Trade, after issuing a lone 1991 EP under the name Pierre Etoile, the couple opted to concentrate on running Exact Change, the small surrealist publishing house they founded the year prior. Occasionally, however, they dragged their instruments out of mothballs and wrote songs; soon, producer Kramer, who earlier helmed all three of the Galaxie 500 records, contacted the duo about cutting their new material for his label, Shimmy Disc. After repeatedly turning down the offer, Krukowski and Yang finally agreed, and travelled to Kramer's Noise New Jersey studios to begin recording.

Dropping the Pierre Etoile name to work as Damon & Naomi, they issued the LP More Sad Hits in 1991; featuring Krukowski on vocals, guitar and percussion and Yang on vocals and bass, the record continued the ghostly ambience which defined the best work of their previous band while creating a more emotionally expansive backdrop. Following its release the couple again retired, but later turned up as the rhythm section of the Magic Hour. Borrowing the record's title from an old Sonny and Cher album, Krukowski and Yang resurfaced as a duo in 1995 with The Wondrous World of Damon and Naomi; following the breakup of the Magic Hour, they returned in 1997 with the single "The Navigator." Playback Singers followed a year later. The duo collaborated with the Japanese psych-folk band Ghost for their 2000 album, appropriately dubbed Damon & Naomi with Ghost. Two years later, the CD/DVD Song to the Siren: Live in San Sebastian was released. It was followed in 2005 by The Earth is Blue, the follow-up to Damon & Naomi with Ghost. Damon & Naomi returned to the studio once again the following year; the result was Within These Walls, which was released in 2007.

More bio:

More Sad Hits (1992)
The Wondrous World Of Damon & Naomi (1995)
Playback Singers (1998)
Damon & Naomi With Ghost (2000)
Song To The Siren (2002)
The Earth Is Blue (2005)
Within These Walls (2008)
Shibuya O-Nest Tokyo, Japan 2008 (DVD,2008)
The Sub Pop Years - Compilation (2009)
1001 Nights (Limited Edition LP + DVD) (2009)


is an American musician and publisher. He was one of the founding members and the drummer for the band Galaxie 500. His drumwork with Galaxie 500 received widespread praise for its "simmering presence of jazz classicism"(a trait that runs in his family, with his mother a noted jazz vocalist Nancy Harrow ( and his brother Anton a recorded jazz pianist).

After Galaxie 500's demise due to guitarist Dean Wareham leaving the band, he went on to play drums in Magic Hour, with Galaxie 500's bassist Naomi Yang, Wayne Rogers and Kate Biggar. After Magic Hour, Krukowski and Yang performed as a duo under the name Damon and Naomi. He also runs the Exact Change Press with Naomi Yang - a book publisher specializing in Dada and Surrealist literature based out of Cambridge, MA.

Krukowski also writes prose poetry, and holds public readings from his work on occasion.

"Damon Krukowski weaves found text into masterful textures. Poems that read like the entries of an encyclopedia questioning itself. Although sometimes ironic the overriding quality of is an archaic tongue, an archaism that sounds fresh"--Marc Lowenthal, The Boston Book Review.

His books:

5000 Musical Terms (1995)
5000 Musical Chairs (Pamphlet) (1995)
Vexations (1997)
The Memory Theater Burned (book of poetry) (2005)
Album Exact Change: 20 Years of Publishing, An Illustrated History

Read his poems:

Reviews of his books:


"Indie Rocker Teaches Writing"

Damon Krukowski earned his BA and MA at Harvard, where he has taught in VES and the Freshman Seminar Program in addition to the Writing Program. He is a musician (Galaxie 500, Damon & Naomi), and a poet (The Memory Theater Burned). He also writes about music for ArtForum.



is one half of the duo Damon and Naomi and one of the founding members and bassist of the seminal band Galaxie 500. With Damon Krukowski, the other half of Damon and Naomi, she is the founder of Exact Change press, which publishes books of experimental literature with an emphasis on Surrealism, Dada, Pataphysics, and other 19th and 20th century avant-garde art movements. Yang studied at Harvard University.

"I was a visual art major at Harvard; my senior thesis was in painting but I also did projects in photography, industrial design and landscape studies. I took one lass in graphic design, but otherwise it was something that I did more outside of school. I designed posters for plays and concerts.." Read more here:

More info:

DAMON and NAOMI run a book publishing company,

"the Boston-based Exact Change has exactly two employees: Damon Krukowski, editor, and Naomi Yang, designer. Together they comprised two-thirds of the late 80s Boston band, Galaxie 500, and currently tour the world in their band, Damon and Naomi. They founded Exact Change press in 1989, when it occurred to Damon, “We knew a lot of people running small record labels, and we thought: why not do the same with books?”"

You and damon seem to have the ideal artistic life -- all music, art, and literature. does the business side of it come naturally to you too?

"We feel lucky that we can do both things. But in terms of business anything coming to us naturally, the answer is no. I think of us as being kind of bad business people. But it’s like the music, we feel really great conviction about the work and the books. These are really important books and they’re meaningful books and they would be lost otherwise, so that sort of keeps us going. It’s a juggling act every month. It looks like we have these two jobs but we really have six jobs."

DAMON & NAOMI on politics:


GALAXIE 500 (1987-1991)

Today (1988)
On Fire (1989)
This Is Our Music (1990)
Galaxie 500 (box set) - Compilation (1996)
Copenhagen (live, 1990) (1997)
The Portable Galaxie 500 (best-of) (1998)
Uncollected (rarities) (2004)
Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste 1987-1991 - Compilation (2004)
Peel Sessions (2005)


No records, few demo only. "Magnetophone was a short-lived project of Damon & Naomi’s after Galaxie 500 split up." Check these two sites for more info and audio: and


In The Sun (12") (1991), released also as Pierre Étoile (12") (1991)

MAGIC HOUR (1993-1996)

No Excess Is Absurd (1993)
Will They Turn You On Or Will They Turn On You (1995)
Secession 96 (1996)

DAMON & NAOMI (1992-)

More Sad Hits (1992)
The Wondrous World Of Damon & Naomi (1995)
Playback Singers (1998)
Damon & Naomi With Ghost (2000)
Song To The Siren (2002)
The Earth Is Blue (2005)
Within These Walls (2008)
Shibuya O-Nest Tokyo, Japan 2008 (DVD,2008)
The Sub Pop Years - Compilation (2009)
1001 Nights (Limited Edition LP + DVD) (2009)




Fikret Kizilok ( and
Kim Doo Soo ( and
Tomokawa Kazuki (
Mikami Kan ( and

Artwork By [Design] - Naomi Yang
Mastered By - Alan Douches (
Other [Liner Notes] - Damon & Naomi, James Hakan Dedeoğlu, Yuna Bae, Alan Cummings
Other [Lyric Translations] - James Hakan Dedeoğlu, Yuna Bae, Alan Cummings
Photography - Ercan Demirel, Mark Connelly


01 Fikret Kizilok - Just As Long
02 Kim Doo Soo - Bohemian
03 Tomokawa Kazuki - Storms in the Dead of Night
04 Mikami Kan - Never Before
05 Fikret Kizilok - Beautiful, How Beautiful You Have Become
06 Tomokawa Kazuki - What is this Place?
07 Kim Doo Soo - Mountain
08 Mikami Kan - Why Stop If You Like It?
09 Tomokawa Kazuki - Kasai Zenzo
10 Kim Doo Soo - Sweet Briar
11 Fikret Kizilok - Without Noticing
12 Mikami Kan - The Scarlet Rug
13 Kim Doo Soo - Wild Flower
14 Fikret Kizilok - I'm Anatolia
15 Mikami Kan - At the Harbor in my Shorts
16 Tomokawa Kazuki - My Boy

Link to download:

More info:
The selection has been made by Damon & Naomi, whose enthusiasm for this music begins with their own international tours -- always interested in other people's sad songs, they seek out recommendations wherever they travel. These four singers are among the discoveries closest to their hearts. Because while the subtitle of this compilation points out that they are linked by a linguistic family (Altaic), what truly links them is a love of melancholy

International Sad Hits, Volume One presents four singer-songwriters from Asia. All four of these artists are veterans in their respective music scenes, with decades-long careers, large discographies, and devoted followings. These are not pop or rock stars, or world- or traditional folk-music artists, but singer-songwriters in the poetic manner of Bob Dylan, Nick Drake, or Tim Buckley; and for the most part, their music has never left their national or linguistic cultures. This compilation, accompanied by a 20-page full-color booklet with biographical notes on each artist, and translations of all song lyrics into English, is intended to help take this music across those borders.

"Damon and Naomi's first album as a duo was entitled More Sad Hits; now, years later, the couple curates that concept through the voices of others. International Sad Hits Vol. 1 collects four hand-picked tracks each from four artists: Japan's Mikami Kan and Tomokawa Kazuki, Korea's Kim Doo Soo, and Turkey's Fikret Kizilok, all performing solo in an altogether modern folk context. Mikami is the auteur among the group; his works (covered in other Other Music updates, or just ask around the store) bear little resemblance to any musical peers. Though familiar, his style is unfailingly singular and mournful. Kazuki tends to perform in a style that sounds as if he's trying to shake out of his own skin -- think Simon Finn on Pass the Distance, but sustaining the histrionics to a doleful, intimate panic, rather than the panic attack of "Jerusalem." Kim Doo Soo follows more familiar folk patterns, but his honest, wavering voice and isolated playing style recall artists acquainted with the struggle, from Buffy Sainte-Marie to Neil Young. Kizilok is the real discovery here, adhering to a markedly Anatolian folk style but downplaying a lot of the distressed elements you'd expect, his milky voice vaguely recalling Nick Drake, and his songs definitely recalling the bracing chill of Five Leaves Left. With extensive liner notes and English translations of the lyrical content, this collection stands as an excellent introduction to these foreign sounds of woeful despair. [DM]"

"each song is beautiful and well composed. i think the songs aren't so much sad as they are wistful and full of lost hopes. "

More info of Damon & Naomi:

ttp:// (French) (Spanish),3107 (Spanish) (Spanish)

Interviews: (Portugese)


Blogger Steve said...


This is a PHENOMENAL piece on Galaxie/D&N and their offshoots- I don't think I've ever seen anything as researched and comprehensive on any blog before now. Thank you so much!

I did want to mention that I was hoping to see (finally) something that I've never seen or heard before; I only know of its existence because it is listed in the Damon & Naomi discography on 'Rate Your Music', with a photo of the artwork. It is a vinyl single from 1998 of 2 cover versions: Side 1 is Dylan's 'It's All Over Now Baby Blue' and Side 2 is Can's 'Yoo Doo Right'. Sounds great, doesn't it? Did you come across this in your research? Neither of these songs was included in the box set or anywhere else as far as I know.

Can't wait to hear the Pierre Etoile & Magic Hour material!

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Steve, thank you for your kind comment and also for mentioning me 'It's All Over Now single. Somehow i have forgotten to post it, but it is up now, enjoy. There's only little info about it, but you're right, it is not on any albums, released only as a 7".
I have also included the original songs of Bob Dylan and Can.
Damon and Naomi' versions are fantastic. They are loaded with deep emotions, really wonderfull works of them. Sometimes cover songs arent so great, but in this case it is not true at all!
Bob Dylan is folk, and Can is a kind of art rock, but Damon and Naomi added something new to these songs. Their versions are spiritual and mystic, and i looove them:)

BTW Bob Dylan here is very Bruce Cockburn-esque. I really wonder how Cockburn would play this song!


4:27 PM  
Blogger Steve said...


THANK YOU for posting the 'Baby Blue' single-it's as terrific as I always imagined it would be. What a treat it's been to read the commentary & interviews that you've put together. And then there's the music! Great stuff all around.

Speaking of cover versions, the live D&N/Ghost guitar 'Song To The Siren' is absolutely beautiful & a complete surprise.

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank-you for this post. I was seventeen or so when I found "Session '96" on the shelf on my local record store. I felt like I had found a diamond in the rough. "Who was this group? Where did they come from? How many others knew of this excellent record? Why aren't they more well known?!"

6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this great post - one quick question - track 5 on the Song To The Siren Live LP appears to a laidback funky reggae tune called Moving Together and definitely not Damon and Naomi! Not sure what happened there, but it sounds pretty good and I'm curious to know who it's by! Any ideas?? PS saw Dean Wareham playing Galaxie 500 songs at the weekend - amazing

10:23 AM  
Blogger The Bomber said...

Thanks to you, got access to all those great live recordings and other rare things of the Galaxie 500.

(im new in the 90s music)
Im going to start with the couple, that, man, if they sounded that in the G500 back in the days, I guess they have magnificent things here as a couple/solo.

Thanks a lot in advance. I ll keep on them. Little by little !

From Argentina-

1:48 PM  
Anonymous Rock Damen said...

Indie Rock ...

2:09 AM  

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