Originally from Allentown, PA, Dominic Cipolla has called Louisville KY, home for more then 20 years. During his early years in Louisville, as well as playing in bands including seminal Louisville collective Sapat, he formed a friendship and musical connection with Michael McMahan (The For Carnation/Slint). After playing in several bands together, including the Louisville favorite Starkiller, Cipolla began writing and recording The Legend Of Black Six, the first release under the name Phantom Family Halo. Other then enlisting McMahan for some guitar wizardry, it would be the first of several records that he was mainly responsible for the writing, instrumentation and recording process. In 2009 the same solo approach was used again for the sprawling double L.P., Monoliths and These Flowers Never Die, and in 2010 with the soundtrack Music From Italian T.V.
In the spring of 2010 while preparing to relocate to Brooklyn, Cipolla was asked by Slint bassist Todd Brashear to participate in a 13th anniversary party for the Louisville cult video store Wild and Wooly. This event would have him sharing the stage with Roky Erikson as well as be the last local performance before the move. While preparations for the show were under way, Todd and Will Oldham brought the idea to Cipolla of joining Phantom Family Halo during the set for a rendition of the Everly Brother’s classic, “I Wonder if I Care As Much”.
While rehearsing with Todd and Will the song was recorded. Cipolla had actually already written a few songs with Oldham’s voice in mind and then asked him if he would want to collaborate on a session and add it to the Everly Brother’s tune. With that in mind, they got together on the second floor of a old funeral home Cipolla was living in at the time and put it down to tape. This collection of songs would become known as The Mindeater EP, released spring 2011. The last night of recording in Louisville would also be the last night before Cipolla relocated to Brooklyn.
Several months later he was joined in Brooklyn by William Benton (Cat Casual). William was part of the live Phantom Family Halo line up during the last year of being in Louisville. Since their relocation they have announced the release of two Phantom Family Halo releases in 2012 on KF Records – a “dark” and a “light” album.
When I Fall Out is the first of the releases and will be issued on February 14, 2012. Inspired by concept albums of the past, such as Pretty Things’ SF Sorrow and Wire’s 154, the songs were all written following the death of one of Cipolla’s close friends. It took Cipolla a year to write the songs that became When I Fall Out and ready himself for the move to Brooklyn, NY, leaving the “darkness” behind.
Writing and recording the album was cathartic to Cipolla. Some of the tracks are literal – “Dirty Blade” is hypnotic and dreamlike, while “White Hot Gun” is raw and urgent – a sliding fuzz bass note anchors the track while Cipolla intones, “you’ve got nothing to fear … loaded gun” as the song builds to a screaming climax. The album is alternately resigned, angry, and hopeful – the tracks are about someone gets lost deep within the dark side of life and the friends they leave behind. It’s a powerful record that pulls you inside and immerses you in its mood and sound.
The second of the albums, title to be announced soon, will be released in the fall of 2012.
Phantom Family Halo has shared stages and/or toured with Slint, The For Carnation, Acid Mothers Temple, Guru Guru, Hawkwind. Black Angels, Black Mountain, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Roky Erickson, Marissa Nadler and more.
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