WATCH: Ursa Minor Meets Chad VanGaalen in “The City of Electric Light”

The acclaimed Downtown NYC group returns with a new album and a salute to a Sub Pop great

The new Ursa Minor album Sian Ka’an comes out in June (Art: Ron Hart, Photo: Dina Regine)

Located on Norfolk Street across from Ratners and the famous Lansky Lounge off Delancey in New York’s Lower East Side, Tonic was a former city winery that was converted into one of the most exciting and adventurous jazz clubs to ever take root in the city. 

If you knew Tonic, you certainly knew Ursa Minor. Led by the venue’s former sound engineer Michelle Casillas, the band reads like a supergroup 20 years later, with guitarist Tony Scherr (Bill Frisell, Lounge Lizards) and longtime members drummer Robert DiPietro (Elysian Fields) and bassist Rob Jost (Bjork) in its ranks. 

“Ursa Minor is a combination of art and soul, with great songs that shine through,” proclaims Jesse Malin, who signed the reunited Ursa to Velvet Elk Records, the label he founded with partner Don DiLego.



And 18 years after the release of their classic 2003 LP Silent Moving Picture (originally released on Steve Shelley’s Smells Like Records imprint), Ursa Minor deliver its companion piece with Sian Ka’an, which comes out on June 18th. Produced by Scherr, Sian Ka’an (see-AHN KHAN) is Mayan for “origin of the sky.” Indeed an appropriate name for a collection of songs inspired by Casillas’ visit to the protected bioreserve in the Yucatán. 

“We captured the barebones vulnerability of the first album,” Casillas explains, “with new resolve, tranquility and ferocity.”

The Rock & Roll Globe is honored to premiere the video for the first single off Sian Ka’an, a cover of “City of Electric Light” by one of Sub Pop Records’ most important artists Chad VanGaalen , whose time for reappraisal is long overdue. 

“’City of Electric Light’ struck me deeply when I first heard it,” recalls Casillas.  “I’ve always loved Chad’s music, and this song in particular.  The surreal imagery is in perfect alignment with the sound that was unfolding on our album.  The wonder of the natural world and the edge of the city—coexisting realities.”

“‘City of Electric Light’ takes me on this wonderful journey of transcendence through the damage,” adds Malin, also a big fan of Mr. VanGaalen.

For more information on Ursa Minor and Sian Ka’an, follow them on their socials or visit the Velvet Elk homepage. 


VIDEO: Ursa Minor “City of Electric Light”



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Ron Hart

Ron Hart is the Editor-in-Chief of Rock and Roll Globe. Reach him on Twitter @MisterTribune.

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