I AM AN UNKNOWN ARTIST is the fourth and latest full-length solo release from Chicago-area avant-pop recording artist Diane Marie Kloba.
Its musical foundation is built of Kloba’s own guitars, vocals and acoustic percussion with occasional contributions from a small group of collaborators. The voices on I Am an Unknown Artist are always emotive, ranging from lullaby-sweet (“To Live Up to It”) through urgent hollering (“Diane Has Words”) to haunted (“It Rained”).
Kloba’s lyrics grow from self-reflection tempered with a dose of humor and of wordplay. The album opens with a love song (“To Live Up To It”) but thoughts soon turn to the nature of creativity, motivation, persistence and the passage of time. The hypnotic “That’s How It Goes” finds the singer stargazing and draws parallels between light pollution obscuring the night sky and human isolation. A wry raggedness shows up on “It Was Me”, a lumbering and clamorous reworking of the “it’s not you—it’s me” cliché. Surf guitar and spy music themes are reduced to their bare essentials on the rocker “No Standing Still”, telling of a soul on the mend pushing forward.
There are some departures from Kloba’s earlier work: There is a more intimate treatment of the vocals and an introduction of some orchestral textures. To help get this done, Kloba enlisted mix engineer Ryan Albrecht, better known in classical circles, and Grammy-winning perfectionist mastering engineer Bob Katz to add final polish.
Despite the newfound textures and polish, I Am an Unknown Artist still emphasizes the economy employed in Kloba’s prior recordings. Nothing is wasted; what is present is essential and empty space is given its due respect.
DIANE MARIE KLOBA is a Chicago native, lifelong area resident and recording artist who has released four full-length albums of her work. She has been active in music since the 1990s when she led The Silent Workers, a guitar-powered modern rock quartet who were regulars on the club and festival scene. Since then, her solo work generally resides in the space between singer-songwriter and performance art, drawing from rock, folk, jazz and punk influences, but always distilling these sources to their essences: It has the intelligence of art music without its typical pretension and the uninhibited expression of punk without its usual aggression.
Kloba’s non-musical interests include astronomy, geology, meteorology, philosophy and psychology; these subjects all illuminate her lyrical content, through the lenses of emotion, humor, metaphor and a hopeful worldview. Her frequent wordplay is reminiscent of hip-hop, but without its anger or bravado.
Diane Marie Kloba’s latest effort, I Am an Unknown Artist follows I Kid You Not (2003), Messages From the Ionosphere (2005), and For You, Stranger (2008).
Striped Shirt Records • PO Box 57 • Franklin Park, IL 60131 • www.dianemariekloba.com