Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
The precautions that we'd take when we're in close proximity to Judson Claiborne lead singer Christopher Claiborne Salveter are extreme, but we feel that he might be out to take some of our soul, some of the part of us that we've not shown anyone else. It's sounds as if he's done this before, as if he's an expert in the extraction of insight and in shining a light on the spidery spirits that we try to keep covered, try to keep warm and protected in the basement of our belly. It's there that we keep our secrets and our insecurities. It's there that we keep our true self-image, the one without clothing or accessories - you know, our warts and all, skinny-dippin' self. It's a real sight. It shuffles a lot and keeps a fairly downcast gaze. The Chicago band, which releases its albums on the always incredible La Societe Expeditionnaire label, seems to exist for the chance to explore and to peel back the layers of heads and hearts to get to those shivering and revealing sections of a person that mostly remain unexposed. They lie in wait and they crouch in the tall grass, waiting for their enemies to move along, to proceed on down the path, just so everything can get back to normal. These sections have their own language, a speaking voice of whispers, kitten paws and baby feet - soft and delicate. They speak to our open arms and our open eyes. They ask a lot in return, for there's no way they'll just give of themselves without asking for some reciprocity. Salveter seems like a guy who can just pull in these feelings and this insider information - us at our most charming and at our weakest moments - without having you participate at all. He can extract through eye contact, through astute forms of touch and through closeness.
On "One Hundred More Than One Hundred Times," from the group's newest album, "Time and Temperature," he sings, "When her skin came open, it was like yellow corn/I was scared and queasy feeling/The stuff beneath was more appealin'/And I stayed in exile and the loveliest dream/I found a tree that looked good to me/I laid her there for eternity/One hundred more than one hundred times," and he paints a picture that feels as if it were robbed from a day of reckoning, from a day when one world came crashing down and another was begun in its place. Judson Claiborne songs are full of dry and wet tears and people upon people who are seeking new days, who are trying to not feel so much - for what they feel and how they feel, in such graphic and painfully brilliant detail - is too much to handle. It could just be that the narrator doesn't know what to do with himself, singing, "Come and push me through the bright windows of your mind," which sounds half like an invitation and half like a breaking and entering, as if there's no way to stop the desires, the urges. And this is why - though it might just be us being overly cautious - we take extra caution when we are in the same room as Salveter. We don't want to find ourselves figured out in that Flannery O'Connor, depressing but true and wounded sort of way.