Synth pop unease— THE WICHITA FLAG. That sentence may confuse the late-coming enthusiasts of this cities' 80 year old image. This self-titled album released by Les Easterby— better known as The World Palestine, which also released Dik Dik Sounds on the same day as THE WICHITA FLAG. The Wichita Flag is his christian music debut. The repeating chorus “187, We’ll go up to heaven” has afterlife squarely on it’s mind amidst the paranoid frenzy of the 9/11 terrorist-promoting haven that is Easterby’s America. Arranged with electronic beats and dense synth work, the first song “187 (we’ll go up to heaven)” works a creepy juxtaposition between the poppy melodic vocal and its content, which may be a reference to the California penal code “187"— a sort of slang for murder, which in this case the victim(s) go up to heaven? The lyrics and melody won’t quickly be forgotten, unlike the DJ-ish scratching over the continuously slowing tempo.
“I’m Gonna Give My Life to God” seems like an insincere title. Like, why haven’t you already? The purpose of a christian release is to say you already have, no!? The lyrics, “I'm trying to find myself” seem wholly appropriate. The funky guitars and wah-wah bass certainly sound in jubilation. Just embrace what’s coming, right? Easterby sings, “You're my best friend. I'm never going to sleep again.” The spiritual dissonance is quickly realized part way through the this bouncy escapade. The lyrics are hard to make out through the heavy use of vocal effects and being low in the mix, but “I’m Gonna Give My Life to God” picks back up from it’s disjointed broken drum machine vibe. The song eventually slows to a halt in similar fashion to “187.”
The lyrics are simple. “I am pure. I am clean. I am sure. I am free. I won't go down.” Squashed in a post-synthwave gush of pop simplicity, “I Won’t Go Down” is short. In and out in 80 seconds. A siren-like call gives way to a jangly guitar warble and is gone just as quickly as it came in.
“Jesus is the One I Need” closes this strange foray into Christian paranoia and God fandom. An aggressive and claustrophobic electronic organ beat continues into a fervor of synth grinding and vocal “oohs” and “ahhs.” The singing is drenched in reverb. “I'll be your Christian friend. Jesus is the one I need. Jesus is the one for me.” The statements are simple. Mostly to the point and all-out-new for Les Easterby, the driving force for christian experimental synth wave on THE WICHITA FLAG self titled debut.
Self-written, performed, recorded (in under two weeks), mixed and mastered, The Wichita Flag is also self released on Thunder Kick Records. Available November 24th on all your streaming services. THE WICHITA FLAG debut is odd and worth a listen.