Volume 91, Issue 60

Thursday, January 15, 1998

round and round


Beyond the Pursuit of Happiness

By Carey Weinberg
Gazette Staff

The Pursuit of Happiness' frontman Moe Berg has taken a musically dramatic leap that has landed him with a CD coloured by bleak sombre tones.

Having five albums with one of Canada's more successful rock outfits has primed Berg to do some inward exploration. This journey took him through his spirit and resulted in summer's over, his first solo effort.

The album is extremely low-fi – a major deviation from the last big production TPOH album. Moe Berg wanted the gist of the album to illustrate a connection with his muse by using paired-down, lyrically-focused songs that give the album a tasteful, minimalist feel.

TPOH haven't broken up, in fact, guitarist Kris Abbott recorded a children's record with Berg at the production helm. Abbott and Berg are receiving help from members of Portishead, who are currently making some drum loops for the album.

summer's over came out of Berg's desire to eliminate superficiality. "All the songs are basically entries in my diary, I wanted to make a completely honest record," Berg said in a recent phone interview from his home in Toronto.

Berg's looking forward to this upcoming tour in smaller clubs because of the intimacy. "Everyone can hear the lyrics and what you're trying to communicate. So as far as communicating what the actual songs are about and the feelings behind the song, it's easier to do it in this kind of setting.

"When you're with the full band it's more about the spectacle and the energy. It's hard for people to get the more personal aspects of your songs when your're playing loud and jumping around."

What defines this album is a kind of spiritual exploration. Songs like "why god why?" and "angelique is a free spirit".

"angelique is a free spirit" describes the divide Berg felt between the character Angelique and himself: "she lives free / i live in chains of my own making / she's vibrating with the charm i'm just faking." Angelique presents the listener with the character type Berg aspires towards whereas he saw himself as being bound by his own spiritual blockages.

Berg grew up in a Fundamentalist Christian household and recently has taken a hard turn in his spiritual quest. He considers having carried some religious baggage with him as a major contributor to the bleakness found on the album.

"It's always been in my heart and in my head. My biggest problem with Christianity is that Christians are just such a drag" – a showing of humour that also peaks its head out periodically throughout the album.

Berg is finding himself reconnecting with God and simultaneously rejecting religious figures presently in the forefront.

"There are a lot of really amazing things in the Bible, but the people projecting the image of Christianity are all these wise guys who project this negative image of the Bible – the anti-abortionists, people who hate gays – there's this real negative energy that comes from Christians, especially fundamentalists."

Berg fell off the path of love for a while and this album traces his demonic wrestling matches of failed relationships and bad attitudes "I don't want to be that person. I don't want to be old, angry and embittered – it's just so heavy to wear those chains around you. This record reflects how I was feeling, which was really out of place."

Moe Berg will be in place tonight at The Whippet Lounge.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998