Christopher "Karl" Steffey
Sep. 11, 1984 - May 9, 2011
RAM'S HEAD: A PROJECT AND A LIFE
How many geniuses walk this earth and leave it without ever being discovered? To our great misfortune, we will never know - but sometimes we get the chance to save one from being lost. Like Christopher "Karl" Steffey, who died in 2011 at the age of 26, and whose project, Ram's Head, is being rescued from obscurity by Bastion Recordings.
Ram's Head was the name Karl gave to the electronic music he recorded from 2003-2008. It started innocently enough: ever the voracious explorer, Karl was teaching himself how to use programming software. The initial result was confrontational, skeletal, but often absurdly hilarious horror-dance music.
Karl, however, was much more than that, and his most insular, personal project couldn't help but gradually take on characteristics much more in keeping with who he really was. Soon, Ram's Head became Karl's chief creative and expressive outlet, taking on the reflective poeticism and tumultuous melancholy that were the hallmarks of his personality. And from this living-room experiment eventually came something rather serious: a project that was much more than a project, but rather the very intentional manifestation of a man's inner life - his experiences; his thoughts; his soul, all constructed as works of musical art.
In 2013, Bastion Recordings, headed by Karl's best friend Zachary V. Sunderman, inaugurated a campaign to issue the Ram's Head material, beginning with the transitional album Last of the Lost (recorded 2004-5). But there is still much more to reveal. Small labels don't typically attempt to release music by people who were unknown in their lifetimes, but we believe this music deserves the effort and the risk. We hope you'll join us as we celebrate the brilliance of Ram's Head and Karl Steffey.
LAST OF THE LOST (2013)
The first installment in Bastion's campaign to issue the experimental electronic pop music recorded by Karl Steffey before his untimely death at age 26, Last of the Lost is the perfect introduction to the idiosyncratic sounds Karl was making. Entirely automated, right down to the vocals, Last of the Lost is a sometimes humorous, sometimes harrowing journey through love and loss, dashed hopes and bitterness. Revealing influences from UK post-punk and industrial music, and overlapping considerably with the electronic indie movement that has grown since this music was made, this first offering from Ram's Head is a challenging, emotional, and entirely unique musical experience not to be missed. Moreover, it is the music of a man who poured every ounce of his existence into his work, and who now can finally share the vibrancy of that existence with the world.
End-of-year staff pick, Gotta Groove Records
Polishing the Ram's Knob | January | The Addiction | Spiral | The Starling | Note to Self | Never Again | Hee Haw Hoo Haw Hee Haw Haw | Love Will Fail | Alone | Last of the Lost | The Cave
*Digital download available from the artist via Bandcamp.