2022 In Review : Carl Weingarten And The Return Of Delay Tactics

The first time I became aware of musician Carl Weingarten was back in 2018. Azure Vista Records label head Jonas Munk sent me a copy of Weingarten’s 1985 album Living In The Distant Present, which Munk was re-issuing on Azure Vista on vinyl. The album had a short cassette run when it came out, so this was the first time the album was being released on wax.

Carl’s record floored me. It was this beautifully ornate album made with guitar, synth, and tape loops. It had an almost eerie kind of presence; a sort of cross between Windham Hill aesthetics but more experimental and forward-thinking. These weren’t new age joints, these felt far more personal and deep. The songs were communications between the artist and his memories, done in at that time a very unique and singular way. It felt like visiting ghosts laying serious information on me from another plane.

It was one of my favorite albums that year, and continues to be a go-to album for me. I of course did a deep dive into Carl Weingarten and discovered that back in the early 80s he was in a band called Delay Tactics. They came out of the St. Louis experimental music scene. The three-piece included Weingarten, guitarist Reed Nesbit, and synthesist Walter Whitney. After their first album, the amazing Out-Pop Options, Nesbit left the band and was replaced by guitarist David Udell. The trio then released their second album Any Questions?. The guys began work on a follow-up album in 1985 but it never quite came to fruition. Individually they did their own things, paved their own paths in life, and followed their own individual muse.

But rather than 1985 being the end of Delay Tactics, it was just the beginning of a very, very, very long hiatus. 2022 saw the return of Delay Tactics and the release of their third LP called Elements Of Surprise.

Though some decades have passed and there’s a few more gray hairs Weingarten, Udell, and Whitney haven’t lost any of that magic. The music is still engaging with the experimental lean that made them such a unique band. Tape loops, guitar, keys, and touches of acoustic instruments gives the music both an organic and synthetic feel. The band added Michael Manning into the fold to add fretless bass to the Delay Tactics sound, which gives the proceedings a touch of Pastorius magic.

As with the band’s early sound, the new record captures the experimental zeal of Eno, Fripp, and the whole Bowie “Berlin” vibe at times. But what’s unique about Delay Tactics’ sound is how their Midwest roots add a deeper, emotional thru-line to the music. Those acoustic touches, slinky pop melodies, and ethereal Americana throughout gives Delay Tactics’ sound a lightness to it. They incorporate that Frippertronics aesthetic, but without Fripp’s utilitarian shadow. There’s touches of Adrian Belew’s solo work, along with the slinky delivery of Dixie Dregs. Artists that pushed the boundaries, but never at the expense of having fun doing it.

Besides the excellent Elements Of Surprise, Carl Weingarten continues to release earnest, unique, and forward-thinking solo albums. I dived into his last two releases, Ember Days from 2021, and Stop Me Try which dropped at the beginning of 2022. Both albums combine Weingarten’s love of acoustic instrumentation, his love of experimental avenues, and creating mood and exquisite sonic landscapes. Give “A Fistful Of Dust” a listen off Stop Me Try to give you a taste of what Carl’s doing. Then just do a deep dive into Carl’s work. Plus, he’s got Udell, Whitney, and Manning on board helping out with the solo work as well.

I feel Delay Tactics and Carl Weingarten are some of this country’s hidden musical gems that need to be discovered by far more people. I know they have a following, I mean a cool cat clear over in Odense, Denmark knew about Weingarten and dug him. So much so he re-released an album by Carl that came out in 1985. So I know people know. But more people should know.

If you read this, now you know. So go check ’em out.

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