home
poems
essays
art
music
submit
archive
events
Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax


I have always strove toward that fluid space where film meets music. In part, this is why my time in the car has always been so precious Ė because itís about the only chance I have to actually move through life because of music. With music.

Certainly you can take most any music and embed the easy analogy of film within it. However, for the story of Alright Alright, this analogy finds a home in the personal histories of its core: China and Seth Kent.

In so many ways the music of Alright Alright is much like the score of a film. Itís orchestral in scope and texture. Itís a dirtier kind of symphony Ė an anti-kind-of-folk laced in the palm of a cabaret act. Alright Alright is multifarious both in composition and medium. They are fundamentally organic but also compliment their smoky vocal gospel with digital samples and electric nuances.

Alright Alright spans a broad range of emotions, grain and subject matter. Their songs are stories. If not that, then their songs are like roads. Leading toward something. A home. An end. Sometimes itís a summery circus tent of a street. Other times, itís a windswept road of crumbling, fallen leaves decaying under the din of a humanís condition.

In story and actual context, China and Seth Kent have wriggled their way into that watery space where film meets music meets life. A couple years ago, China collaborated with Cinematic Underground mastermind Nathan Johnson to create the score for the acclaimed film Brick, with the assistance of Seth. Then, the Kents worked together on the score of JAM (a documentary about roller derby). This fall, a star-studded film will feature the coupleís work in The Brotherís Bloom. With that considered, however, and it should come as no surprise that the couple is currently writing the score of their lives: Alright Alright.

China Kent is a classically-trained pianist. Seth Kent is a man of all trades: A pilot, a guitar builder, a musician and an oil man. China (using her maiden name: China Curtiss) recorded an album, Gamma Ray. She and Seth soon collided after meeting through the Cinematic Underground Ė Nathan Johnsonís incendiary visual and auditory carnival. The pair then went on tour with the Underground on the East Coast in a vegetable-powered bus. After a span into the tour and the couple discovered they were pregnant. They then transitioned back west and settled in Denver, to make a home.

After the birth of their son, Fender, and several personal complications that included the death of Chinaís father Ė one constant in their lives still resonated: music. Alright Alright (China Kent, Vocals, Piano, Percussion; Seth Kent, Vocals, Guitar; Bethany Johnson, Vocals; Mark Emmons, Drums; Fender Kent, Cooing, Girgling, Cowboy Boots; as well as a whole host of Denver musical elite including Elin Palmer, Anna Slade, and Tiffany Meese) is the product of that universal of music.

As is the case with any act of creative ingenuity, the actual product is the sum total of a personal history Ė singularly or in the plural form. For the Kents, Alright Alright is a composite of personal histories, together and apart. Their new act has been about many things: It has been about the challenge to move out and into the front, out from behind their supporting roles in the successful Cinematic Underground. It is about China opening her history of musical training and pulling her own songs, out and into to the spotlight. It is about Seth stepping-out with his long history of songwriting and recording.

But just like their work before, with film scores and the raising of their child, there is a strong sense of collaboration with the Kents. There is a heartbreaking sense of family, of doing what is best for the whole. For the song. For the band. For the house that is music, that is the heavens.

China likens the songwriting that she and Seth engage-in to the act of tossing a ball back and forth. Seth likens their songs to sandwiches, as opposed to four course meals. And it is exactly within these practical, daily elements of living where their music rings true. Often angelic in its spread, it is sometimes difficult to imagine that the wings of Alright Alright find their provenance in daily life. No, instead of in the skies, their songs find birth when the dishes are being done. When the baby is down for a nap.

In all there is something holy within this musical project. For this author I find it impossible to separate the people from the music. Now it is obvious to me how you bring parts together Ė to live, to thrive, to give birth; to write new songs and refine old ones. In this I have close to me the picture of little Fender Kent in his diaper and cowboy boots, with his ukulele; smiling up at China and Seth. I can see Fenderís mother at the piano in the afternoon sun, and his father swaying behind his guitar on the hardwood floors. And it is in this painting that I can begin to see the orchestral compositions beginning to take shape; and finding their home. Their family. Reaching out of the sunny windows like branches Ė escalating toward the pillowy bursts of clouds above; in return, to rain down upon us all like some sepia film full of snapshot light.

Certainly 2008 is just the beginning of the public side of Alright Alright. The act has only been playing-out for less than a year. So, stay-tuned to their upcoming endeavors, shows and their family of songs, here: www.myspace.com/alrightx2.