Tone Ranger (AKA Alex Simon) makes immersive dance music that embodies the magnetic and supernatural beauty of the American Southwest. Blending deep house rhythms with ethereal instrumentation (lap steel, harmonica, whistling, voice), he has earned a reputation as one of the region’s most original and sought-after live electronic acts. Performances have often been described as “heart-opening,” seamlessly moving from ecstatic peaks to grounding sonic valleys. In August 2018, he released his debut EP with Jumpsuit Records, and has since opened for international acts like Quantic and Dirtwire. This evening will be a celebration of his new EP, On the Horizon, and will kick off a month-long tour throughout the Southwest.
Simon is inspired primarily by the landscape of the American West and the stories embedded in it. Though stunningly beautiful on the surface, he understands that underneath, there is deep division and a cry amongst so many of us for healing. There is a need for truth in a country where our history is largely myth and our modern social fabric is torn by lies and deceit. Crafted by exposure to the elements, an enduring sense of wonder, and that connection you can only find on the dance floor, the music of Tone Ranger exists to reignite that fire within us so that we can see each other for the radiant beings we are.
After a decade of orchestral French horn studies, 20-year-old Maggie Thornton spent her first modest paycheck as a music theory teaching assistant on a pocket mono-synthesizer. Using only this synth, a piano, her voice, and an 8-track recorder she produced 3 tracks that set the tone for her productions to come. The focus was on vocal sweetness, compositional simplicity, and rich, layered analog tones.
This initial demo landed her a gig performing for a fundraising gala for Meow Wolf’s own House of Eternal Return. This gig almost immediately turned into a full time job actually creating the exhibition. With the success of the House of Eternal Return, she was able to partake in the rise of this small arts collective as it rapidly grew into the global arts phenomenon it is today. While the collaborative model of Meow Wolf has enabled her to conceive of and contribute to work that would be otherwise impossible to complete, she did not lose track of her goal to produce entirely personal, solo work.
Three years after her simple 8-track productions, she returned to the drawing board with the intent to create a more coherent body of work under the name Sky Civilian. After a solid year of production and planning, she has completed her debut EP, set for release in 2019.
Her new productions evoke a lust for the future and the far-away, but she grounds this lofty mood in familiar territory, with nostalgia-inducing, detuned synth instrumentation and four-on-the-floor percussion. What gives the work its hyper-natural feeling are her weightless, almost-whispered vocals. Strange yet playful production techniques grant the vocals a subtle pop tilt, but this playfulness is balanced by the darker content of her words. The overall lyrical message is one of raw sincerity, as listeners confront unmistakable themes of loss and longing.