Robin O’Brien

The Empty Bowl

Luxotone 707, 2011

Full-length CD

In 2006, Luxotone received a box of cassettes in the mail. Inside were hundreds of four-track portastudio tapes that were created, in my humble opinion, by one of the most gifted and musically passionate artists you’ve probably never heard of.  Since the 1980’s, Robin O’Brien has been writing, recording, and producing her own brand of indie pop, drone, and chant—music of haunting, enigmatic beauty and intensity that has been long known only to her friends in the underground cassette movement, to musicians who knew Robin from her Berklee days, and a handful of others, like me, who just happened to end up with tapes like “Roothead,” “New Spring,” and “Apple” (I went to high school with Robin’s brother, Warren).

The major labels took notice of these recordings, not surprisingly.  You can’t help but hear pop’s possible future (think Liz Phair’s famous ‘girly tapes’) when you put one of Robin’s plastic boxes to your ear.  A few big-name producers (whom I’m not allowed to name) got interested and made some demos with Robin in the early 90s, but for one reason or another (Madonna? Female vocalist quotas? Robin’s ‘don’t make me sound like someone I’m not’ sensibility?) this music never made it to the top 40.  Now, in retrospect, of course, Robin and I think this is a good thing.  What you hear in her songs and performances, reviewers keep pointing out, is an artist that could easily, if only because of her gorgeous voice and larger-than-life personality, have been sucked into the commercial music machine and spit out shiny, generic, and boring.  And at the beauty of songs like “Finding/Losing” and “10th Avenue” exist perhaps only because of Robin’s ups and downs, the anguish of the times, as Robin’s butterfly got too close to major-label fame (and flames).

Since 2006, Luxotone has been remixing Robin’s back catalog.  We started with the EP FORE (2006), the full-length EYE AND STORM (2008), THE APPLE IN MAN (2009), and THE EMPTY BOWL (2011).  And, in April 2013, Dive Into the End of the World.

The Apple in Man
Luxotone 704, 2009Full-length CD
Eye and Storm

Luxotone 703, 2008

Full-length CD

FORE

Luxotone 701, 2006

4-song EP/CD

Robin O’Brien, featured in Interview Magazine