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Kites Overhead

about Kites Overhead

Gene Kondusky has three obsessions: literature, travel and music. The first two have together taken Gene, as an English teacher, to places as diverse as Japan, Turkey, and the Canadian Arctic.

Not satisfied with leaving his third obsession by the wayside during his travels, Gene decided to pursue songcraft on the road, without the benefit of a band. Beginning first with loop-based ambient acoustic music, Gene carved out a shoegaze niche in Japan as The Noble Son. However, he has since shifted his technological focus away from solo performance, and toward the studio.

Honing his craft in home studios in Ottawa, Montréal, and the isolated community of Inukjuak, on the eastern shores of Hudson Bay in the extreme north of Québec, Gene shifted his compositions away from the drone and ambience of his earlier work, and re-centred his craft somewhere at the intersections of rock, pop, folk and experimentation. Influences as disparate as Leonard Cohen, Neil Young, Sigur Rós, Belle and Sebastian, The Postal Service, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor all fuse happily in Gene’s compositions. When it came time to name the new project, Gene naturally chose a name that reflects the soaring soundscapes these distinct influences all paint: Kites Overhead.

The public’s first taste of the result was “In the Shadow of the Mountain,” a three-song EP Gene released on March 31st 2010 as a free digital download on his own imprint, Home Is Not Here. Featuring two songs from the upcoming full-length album, as well as a stirring rendition of the song “Grand Canyon” by The Magnetic Fields, “In the Shadow of the Mountain” has already defied expectations: the second full day the EP was available, the website hosting its files crashed. Several radio stations and music blogs across North America have featured “In the Shadow of the Mountain.” Halifax-based music blog herohill.com said the release “surges with power” and called the EP “a unique look into the heart of a man finding freedom in isolation,” and CFCR (Kingston) selected the EP as its featured release on The Lumberyard.

On September 7th, 2010, Kites Overhead released its first full-length album, titled You are a secret, and you must never tell it. The title is a nod to American postmodern poet John Ashbery, and vividly captures the spirit of exploration and boundary-pushing that defines Kites Overhead. The album draws on folk, pop, post-rock and other diverse influences, blending all these elements to create a unique combination of stylistic experimentation. Gene’s influences dominate the album: his literary background comes to the fore on tracks like “The Poet” and “Ark Apprehensive” (the latter being a poem by Canadian poet Jay Macpherson, set to music). “Hearts and Minds” evokes Mogwai or Do Make Say Think, while the album’s epilogue, “The Last Time I Thought About You,” recalls the vocal style of Nick Drake and the country-inflected strumming of early Neil Young.

Although he recently called Montréal home, a new city beckons: Gene has just started a doctoral program in English at the University of New Brunswick, Fredericton. Although his days will be centred on literature, Gene intends to do his best to nurture all three of his obsessions while studying.

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