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Published on March 12th, 2002 | by Gerry Galipault

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Luminous glows with debut album

Barbara Cohen and Paul Robb are such a match made in musical heaven, they once went by the band name of Brother Sun Sister Moon.

But the moniker proved to be too much of a tongue twister.

“Whenever I told someone our name, it took about three tries or more for them to remember it,” Cohen said recently. “We got a lot of ‘Brother Moon Sister Something’ or ‘Brother Sister Moon Sun.’ For some reasons, four words are a bit much for the memory recall of today’s society. So we caved.”

Now known as Luminous, Cohen and Robb have gotten a fresh new start on the fledgling Bleep Records. Their self-titled album, replete with infectious grooves and Cohen’s ethereal vocals, was issued Feb. 19.

Cohen and Robb may be familiar to dance fans. Robb was the techno brains behind the 1980s band Information Society (“What’s On Your Mind {Pure Energy}”), and the folky Cohen was in Farm Accident and Little Lizard and provided vocals on the track “Radian” on Air’s “10,000 Hz Legend” album.

The two have known each other since high school in their native Minneapolis.

“I feel like I’ve known Paul all my life, but we met my sophomore year in high school concert band,” Cohen said. “I played the flute and he played the saxophone. We ended up putting together our own band, called The Distractions, for the Irondale High School talent contest. We had about 14 people in the band and we did an obscure but funky Donna Summer’s song called ‘Take Me on a Journey’ with a full horn section. We blew the roof off the house and won the contest.”

Years later, their collaboration – a combination of Robb’s techno wizardry and Cohen’s contemporary folk background – shines as Luminous.

“We work so well together because we trust one another musically and have incredible respect for each other’s talents,” Cohen said. “The second reason is we come from really different musical backgrounds. Paul is a techno/hip-hop boy from way back and his band Information Society had a real Depeche Mode quality to it so he’s all about writing with synthesizers and samplers and groove. I come from a very traditional folk-Americana sensibility, the singer-songwriter school of music. I write most of my songs on mandolin and acoustic guitar. I’m very into lyrics and melody. If the lyrics aren’t solid I’m not interested.

“I have entered the 21st century though, mostly because of Paul, I own a few synths and samplers and am hooked up to a virtual reality studio of my own.”

Such upbeat Luminous tracks as “Libertine,” “Hummingbirds” and “Black Oak” are a welcome break from the post-9/11 bleakness.

“I hear from a wide range of people from all across the musical spectrum,” Cohen said. “Some people want to escape how dark things got after 9/11, but mostly I think over all a mass introspection set in after the shock wore off. I honestly think music directly after 9/11 has become a bit more sober than upbeat.

“But I also think people want to effect change in a more positive way. As musicians, whether that’s through lighter music or music that creates catharsis, I’m all for it. However, my music tends to be on the catharsis end of things, which often means I don’t shy away from examining my demons.”

THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: “It was a 45 single by Wayne Newton called ‘Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast,’ purchased at age 9 with my allowance. I thought the song quite moving as a youth.”

THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “ABBA. I think the date was 1977 or 1978, in Minneapolis. The ABBA gals had on shiny ice blue body suits and thigh high, white, high, heeled boots. There was dance moves, big harmonies and a lot of ramps for them to try and navigate in those damn boots. But it was great.”

WORST JOB I’VE EVER HAD: “I think there are two that are tied for worst job. The first was at fast-food joint called Burger Chef. The chain has since gone out of business – karma. Chock full of mean people and boring. The second was staining window frames in a warehouse that wasn’t heated in the middle of a Minnesota winter. I got frostbite on my fingers and was working amongst the trailer park, fast cars, and hard living/ drinking and drugging set; very stimulating conversation. I lasted a week made enough to pay the rent and moved on.”

ON THE WEB: www.bleeprecords.com.

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About the Author

Gerry Galipault debuted Pause & Play online in October 1997. Since then, it has become the definitive place for CD-release dates — with a worldwide audience.



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