West Marin party pop outfit El Radio Fantastique has been suspiciously radio silent in the last few months. The band, led by multi-faceted songwriter Giovanni Di Morente, is known for bombastic baroque rock and marching band aesthetics; yet they’ve been off the stage while producing and recording a new EP, Outside of Space and Time.
The group releases the new EP on vinyl and returns to the spotlight this weekend for a headlining appearance at Parachute Days on Saturday, Oct. 13, at Love Field in Point Reyes Station. The family-friendly festival also features Marin acts the Asteroid No. 4, PSDSP and others.
“We’ve been retooling our music naturally,” says Di Morente. “Just following where our creativity goes. You know, I’ve had the band for quite awhile, so to keep things interesting I’ve had to change things up.”
Di Morente, a Point Reyes Station native, formed El Radio Fantastique’s original incarnation in New Orleans in 2002, after a musical career in Los Angeles. Di Morente found success in the Big Easy before Hurricane Katrina forced him out in 2006 and he decided to return to the North Bay.
After relocating to West Marin, El Radio Fantastique evolved into a seven-piece ensemble with a complete horn section and more, though in the last two years, Di Morente has begun stripping back the musical layers to rediscover the group’s core sound.
“I was forcing myself to write for horns, and they’re amazing players and I love horns, but you can’t keep doing that over and over all the time,” says Di Morente.
Now the bandleader says he’s focusing on fixing pop music. “I’ve always tried to make catchy songs dressed up in some interesting way,” he says. “I love bubblegum pop, but I want to write bubblegum pop with dark, important lyrics.”
On the five tracks of Outside of Space and Time, El Radio Fantastique keeps the horns to a minimum while incorporating new elements like distorted keyboards, fuzzed-out guitars and psychedelic flourishes that Di Morente describes as “nihilistic pop.”
Part of an ongoing series of EP releases, Outside of Space and Time features the group’s previous EP, Shine, on the B-side for the special vinyl release, which will be available when the band plays under an actual giant parachute at Parachute Days this weekend.
“We’re looking forward to vinyl,” says Di Morente. “The digital sounds fine, but we listened to this new album on the record [player] and there’s a big difference.”
Parachute Days happens on Saturday, Oct. 13, at Love Field, 11191 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Point Reyes Station. 3pm. $10-$35. parachutedays.com.