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After six years of touring, wandering North America on Greyhound buses, and recording everywhere from an unlocked closet in a community college athletic center in Oregon to the floor of a pest-riddled punk house on the edge of the ruins of tornado-ravaged Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a weary Emperor X is finally releasing his new album Western Teleport via Bar/None Records in the fall of 2011.

The cover of Western Teleport features a map of a complex chunk of L.A. freeway mayhem, an ample metaphor for the noise pop sabotage within, melodic, layered and singular in its vision. Chad Matheny, the former high school science teacher behind Emperor X, has crafted a personal style that stretches multiple narratives on top of each other. Chemical reactions, romantic obsession, irrigation, Sufi poetry and the decay and rebirth of the modernist freeway city battle for the top vocal line.

In 2009, Chad found himself in car-centric Los Angles, adrift in a wash of personal troubles compounded by the financial turmoil of the Great Recession. Too poorly sighted to drive and spoiled by a life spent mostly in America's more transit-rich Eastern Seaboard, Matheny bought a bike and a bus pass and did what he does everywhere he goes, exploring a side of the city most people only see from a passing car and try their best to ignore. He found a landscape of gargantuan overpasses and vast stretches of weed-cracked asphalt and homeless encampments perched on the edge of ruined riverbanks and Best Buy parking lots. He arranged Emperor X concerts with anarcho-cyclist flash mobs, created reverb-drenched YouTube videos in a seldom-used underground tunnel system, and performed with several Four Loko-fueled punk bands using a gas-powered generator beneath the 710 Freeway in Long Beach. The songs and audio that would become Western Teleport grew out of this fertile, glass-littered soil.

After a brief opening burst of noise, Western Teleport immediately, deceptively pulls the listener in with the smooth Lindsey Buckingham groove of "Erica Western Teleport" before working its way through a rich, near-hallucinatory labyrinth of sound and images -- paramilitary groups raining fallout-filled mortars on the Harbor Freeway, loved ones getting tasered, epileptic couples stealing Segways from a looted, abandoned mall, a song about trying to fix a girl’s air conditioner. Alas, Chad doesn’t know much about “compressor repair,” he just wants the woman in question to “be cool.”

 


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Matheny got his start playing in church basements. He learned to record using a karaoke machine that belonged to a Pentecostal church; it recently dawned on him that he may have gotten his unblocked lyrical flow from the practice of speaking in tongues he encountered there. Much of the music Chad writes springs forth improvisationally; songs are sometimes written in minutes, emerging immediately and effortlessly yet fully formed. His musical development was furthered when he was in a serious car crash that left him with permanent retinal damage to his right eye. During the recovery, he fled the better-sighted world and abandoned the Christian rock of his youth, discovering the undiluted audio ferocity and DIY aesthetic of Sebadoh, Pavement and Guided By Voices and the more abstract soundscapes of Mute Records post-punk pioneers like Fad Gadget, the Swell Maps, and Cabaret Voltaire.

In September 2011, Emperor X will again take to the roads of the southeastern United States with Bar/None label mates the Front Bottoms before heading off for Canada, the northeastern and midwestern U.S., and eventually Mexico and Europe. Throughout the tour, he'll plant packages -- special, digitally tagged geocaches that he calls "nodes" -- to complete Western Teleport Nodes, a collection of outtakes and b-sides from the project that will be slowly revealed in an interactive game with his fans. Chad will also travel to the Netherlands, where he'll meet up with a roving exhibition sponsored by Germany's Museum Folkswang of works by art photographer Joel Sternfeld in which his music is featured. It's a frenetic pace, but this isn't the cliched life in the fast lane of rock's heyday. It's is life in the bloodstream, heavily oxidized, unpredictable, ready to circulate.

“Emperor X uses electronics to hold together oddly structured, guitar-driven songs about disasters big and small, with a sound that's part Stan Ridgway, part Death Cab For Cutie, and part Pavement.”
-Onion A.V. Club

“This isn't the homogenized, regurgitated trend-recycling pap that passes for 'indie' or 'experimental' music these days, but a more heartfelt, imaginative song canon that takes listeners to a singular space in time.”
-Riverfront Times

“...a swollen interfusion of capricous brilliance.”
-Plan B Magazine

“Emperor X seems to be pioneering a musical style that combines the most effective elements of lo-fi recording...Most importantly, the songs are fantastic."
-Prefix Mag

“Matheny has the potential to be the next indie superstar, possessing the effortless songwriting chops of a Stephen Malkmus or Elliot Smith as well as the kind of compellingly holistic musical presence that could place him among the vanguard of modern pop composers, next to folks like the Flaming Lips.”
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