320 kbps, LAME-encoded
Carlos Fire Aguasvivas and a band of buddies recorded Eclipse of the City, the privately pressed, psychedelic funk rock album lost to time, sometime in the blur between 1975 and 1977, and made one master copy. Circumstance being what it was, Aguasvivas was unable to press the album for a handful of years.
One night, unprompted and almost on a whim, he was listening back to the album at his apartment in Queens when the music jumped out at him, and it became his mission to share it with the world. After working seven days a week for months as a data entry clerk, Aguasvivas saved enough money to press three hundred copies of Eclipse in 1980. A self-taught artist and comic book fan, he drew the album’s distinctive artwork. Both sides were meant for the back cover, including a mise en scène of the Eclipse band drawn from memory, as they didn’t think to take any group photos around the sessions. Rare and in-demand, the record became a cult favorite among heads as the years passed by.
After moving to the Bronx from Santo Domingo in the ‘60s, Aguasvivas was raised on Columbia’s Record Club. The Latin American music his mother listened to was lively and ideal for dancing, but the fire in Carlos’s heart was fueled by the sound of early rock n’ roll. He bought a guitar expressly for the purpose of playing rock, and eventually found a kinship in brothers Steve and Edward Garcia at James Monroe High School. They bonded over a shared love of rock, jazz, and prog, and began to play music together, which led to an early band called Friar Tuck, a years-long friendship, and eventually the creation of Eclipse.
Hazy recollections bring a rehearsal studio in Manhattan’s Garment District to mind, where the group set up with two microphones and a reel-to-reel tape recorder; Carlos and the Garcia brothers wrote the songs and recorded vocals, guitars, and drums, Vincent Anderson played keyboards, synths, and organ, and John Ortega covered the bass parts. It was a collaborative jam of the most productive variety – they wrote songs with others’ instruments in mind and shared solos, but it all felt natural. “Whoever felt the most comfortable would play,” says Aguasvivas. “If it worked, we kept it; if not, we dropped it. There were never any egos in the Eclipse band.”
When the sessions were complete, a guiding narrative came together – a New Yorker gets up on a Friday morning, takes the bus or the train to work, and visits the “Funky Side of Town” with his friends at night, heading to a club or a bar before returning home. The story has been told before, but the Eclipse band’s raw take on greats like Funkadelic, Cymande, and War give the arc a different curve. It’s this intimate energy present in the timbre and flow of Eclipse that makes for an especially inviting listen – is it Aguasvivas’ wailing guitar solo on Steve Garcia’s “Jennifer,” unexpectedly bright snatches of Anderson’s organ, or Edward Garcia’s loose but centrifugal drumming throughout the “Eclipse” suite that captures the imagination? Or does the collective dream lead the listener down new corridors?
Ultimately, the common thread of Eclipse is the catharsis of writing music under and beyond influence, intuition’s guiding, gilding presence, and jamming with a group of friends and fellow explorers of sound. “I had my share of troubles and I don't even remember where I was living at the time we were making music,” Aguasvivas recounts. “My wife and I had separated and I was in limbo. We were all going through stuff – I'm so happy the music reflected the opposite of what we felt.” There’s freedom in the sesh, especially when it’s shared with others, and you can hear everyone grooving in perpetual harmony on Eclipse.
Digital Track List
- 1 Think Positive 5:19 Buy
- 2 Jennifer 6:31 Buy
- 3 Try It All Again 3:31 Buy
- 4 Eclipse A (Beginnings) 0:42 Buy
- 5 Eclipse B (First Movement) 0:54 Buy
- 6 Eclipse C (Hustle Bustle) 2:25 Buy
- 7 Eclipse D (Funky Side of Town) 3:37 Buy
- 8 Eclipse E (Midnight) 2:38 Buy
- 9 Eclipse F (First Movement Continued) 0:48 Buy
- 10 Eclipse G (Home) 4:27 Buy