Across the Carquinez Bridge from Vallejo, the post-industrial city that produced rap stars Mac Dre and E-40, sits the small waterfront hamlet of Crockett. Not an official town but a census designated place, it has a population of just over 3,000 and is barely larger than one square mile. During its dry, 90-degree summer days, a 100-year-old sugar refinery fills the air with the smell of molasses.
In was in a Crockett basement, far removed from the Bay Area's urban life, that Salami Rose Joe Louis recorded her enchanting new album, Zdenka 2080. Due out Aug. 30 on the celebrated L.A. label Brainfeeder, it's a collection of jazzy, experimental pop tracks that unfold like a sci-fi novel with a prescient message about the environment.
In the story of Zdenka 2080, Earth's elite flee the decaying planet to another, more livable one. The world's governments and corporations join forces to fly a megalopolis there, but the plan backfires, destroying the sun and slowly killing Earth's remaining inhabitants in the process. Our protagonist, Salami, uncovers a secret that changes the entire meaning of human beings' relationship to our environment.
The gripping, semi-allegorical tale about impending natural disaster unfolds over Zdenka 2080's sprightly 22 tracks, where Salami Rose, a.k.a. Lindsey Olsen, winds the listener through the album's many subplots with oddball synth melodies, nimble guitar work, reverb-heavy vocals, pitch-shifted spoken word sections (in character, of course) and jazz drums. Though Zdenka 2080 has an upbeat, pop sensibility, Olsen avoids catchy refrains, instead writing songs demanding close attention lest the listener miss a crucial twist.