Le Cafard

by Walter Ehresman



Rock/funk/worldbeat/electronica/experimental/ambient/ballads with raging lyrics on the inner and external turmoils of life. Released 2001.

Walter calls this, his seventh solo release, his "divorce album." Certainly some of the songs speak for themselves as they chronicle the dissolution and ultimate end of Ehresman's seven-year marriage. The topics range much wider, however, on this CD by the founder/leader/multi-instrumentalist of the band Snipe Hunt. Anticipating the question "Why should I care about this?", Ehresman takes pains in his lyrics to use personal experiences as a jumping-off point to areas of common experience.

"Le Cafard" literally means "the beetle," but in the vocabulary of the French Foreign Legion stationed in North Africa it referred to a state of temporary insanity caused by long periods of stress and boredom in the desert. They would blame this condition on insects entering the brain, rather than the effects of being stuck in the middle of nowhere with too much time to think, and being mentally and physically exhausted from building roads when they weren't preoccupied with being shot at by snipers.

So he's going apeshit? Well, maybe. Ehresman has spent his life in public service, working to protect the environment in an ideological wasteland (ie. Texas). All those years of banging his head against the wall of Texas', shall we say, "business-friendly" political culture have certainly left scars. Battered by the ceaseless winds of ignorance, selfishness and greed, Ehresman pens protest songs against corruption in places of power around the world (and in the human soul), with particular focus here given to the rise to dominance of international corporations as the real power behind all thrones. But, as we've come to expect from his past work, there is a self-effacing dark humor to these pieces as well. His guts are being ripped out, but he's still able to joke about it.

Like all his solo releases, on "Le Cafard" Ehresman handles all the playing and singing himself (with the exception of ex-Snipe Hunt drummer Tom Corwin on electronic kit drums on Tracks #1 and #11, and Austin mainstay Jon Bessent on pedal steel guitar on Track #11). Here, Ehresman plays electric and acoustic guitars, various fretted and fretless basses, mandolin, keyboards, electric oud, acoustic and electronic percussion, sampling, and sequencer and groove box programming, as well as producing the album. Ehresman has cited Todd Rundgren as a major influence in terms of both demonstrating the possibilities of the self-produced/self-performed album, and in terms of such recordings embracing a wide variety of musical and lyrical ideas. The influence of Rundgren's more experimental works can be felt in Track #9 "I Must Be Doing Something Wrong (Or Something Right Backwards)", an "outside"/drums'n'bass-style song Ehresman says was musically inspired by reading an article on how John Zorn uses radical, jarring techniques in the studio to create his spontaneous avant-garde. Here, Ehresman uses a Najarian electric oud in ways that not only have probably never been attempted before, but would also cause a fatwah to be put out on him by the mullahs if the song were ever widely heard over there.......

Ehresman's love of African music, especially from West Africa, manifests itself here in the Nigerian Afro-beat of "In My Master's House," which uses the voice of the aging native houseboy to comment on the increasing blatancy with which giant mega-corporations run our "houses." The horn and keyboard lines recall '70s Fela Kuti, and it's highly doubtful that the late Mr. Kuti would have disagreed with the song's message.

As Ehresman goes "le cafard" in the political/psychological desert of the New Millennium, he has found solace in the tangible desert of northwestern Nevada. It is there, every August since the early '90s, that a festival called Burning Man takes place. Over 25,000 artists, madmen and free thinkers converge each year for what is billed as a temporary community focused on "radical self-expression/radical self-reliance." Ehresman is the musical director for a Theme Camp called "The Solo Collective," and Track #6 is the latin-flavored theme song he wrote for the group (170 people at one count). At the '01 event, the group had a nightclub out on the playa called "Club Moon," which was the scene of many fine and debaucherous gatherings until the rising sun sent the revelers scurrying for their tents......and Track #8 was written as the "house song" for that nightclub, and marks Ehresman's first serious foray into the "DJ" method of musical construction. According to Ehresman, "I still think music should be played by musicians, but I'm not adverse to seeing what the machines can do on occasion......that is, of course, once they're programmed in inappropriate ways that only obliquely follow the manual." Track #7, "The Poison Pill," tells the chilling story of what can happen when you take on an extremely poorly-chosen passenger for the 4000+ mile drive to Burning Man and back to save on expenses......The dark techno-metal of the song provides a fitting soundtrack for some cathartic venting. This song was included in the Austin compilation "Monkey Boy Sampler--2001."

Track #10, "Sleeping In A Box of Thunder," was inspired by another of Ehresman's favorite artists--Bill Nelson (leader/guitarist for Be Bop Deluxe in the 70s, and prolific solo artist since then). The song is ambient in nature and largely improvised, seeking to create an emotive soundscape that floats delicately through the listener's ear and out the other side. The title was taken from Nelson's description of what it's like to stay in a certain hotel (insert major chain name here) near Heathrow Airport. In May of 2003, this song was included on the Bill Nelson-inspired 3-disc compilation "Several Famous Orchestras" (see www.markrushton.com/music/sfo.htm), the latest in a series of such releases compiled and released by Mark Rushton.

The final track, "A Soul Called Desolation," is Ehresman's first tear-jerker C&W ballad (think old honky-tonk, not "pop country"). This mood is greatly enhanced by the pedal steel guitar playing of special guest Jon Bessent (Ehresman was lucky enough to get an evening for recording with this very-busy Austin icon). "Like several of my songs, this one came to me while I was sleeping......all I had to do was get out of bed and write it down.....I guess this was my brain's summing up of my experience being married for many years and suddenly not being married," says Ehresman. The track provides a bittersweet end to a diverse musical and lyrical journey through "Le Cafard," with all its ragged heights and gentle lulls, its dangerous statements and vulnerable reflections.

Ehresman's motto? "Keep an eye on the bastards."



Local Flavor, 2001: "......if he has gone le cafard, we can all be glad he has taken us with him. Very intelligent and deeply personal (as are all his recordings), these 11 tracks range in style from southern-flavored rock to experimental electronica......'Spin It' is a funky bit of social commentary, then my favorite cut 'Rain Down Like Dr. Phibes'....man, what a song....a sort of Roky Erickson/B-52s red hot and creepy delight. Walter's special skills with world music come through on the Nigerian-sounding 'In My Master's House' and his fascination with experimental music is exercised on the long and wildly diverse 'I Must Be Doing Something Wrong (Or Something Right Backwards).' 'Club Moon'..shines very brightly and is my second-favorite cut.....(it) is outstanding."

--solo albums: "Honor in the Swine?" ('89); "In the Path of the Cat Chasers" ('90); "Split Brain Theory" ('91); "The Blue Shoat Special" ('96); the spoken-word "The Rants" ('97); "Handwedge from the Trap" ('99); “Le Cafard“ (’01); "The Feral Rugby Team Must GO!" ('03); "No Unifying Theme" ('04); "March, Scream or Cry" ('07); "The ADG Project" ('07); "Monkey Paw Situation" ('09); “Well…..Let‘s Look at Your Track Record, Shall We?” (’10); “Life Outside the Tent“ (’12); "Blue-Eyed Devils" ('14); and "Pinches Topes" ('16).

--with Snipe Hunt: "We'll Be Right Back!" ('99); "Dirty Ditties and Cover Tunes" ('00); and "I Saw the Future (But the Damn Train Hit Me Just the Same)" ('02).

--with Los Platos: “Oh, No” EP (’08).

--with Delphi Rising: “For Granted” (‘10)

--compilations (various artists):
(with Swine Patrol) “The Austin Cassette Compendium” (‘86)
(solo) "Monkey Boy Sampler" ('01, '05); and "Several Famous Orchestras" ('03).


released January 1, 2001

Produced at Snipe Bog Studios, Austin, by Walter Ehresman. Mastered at Million Dollar Sound, Austin, by Kurtis Machler. Front cover & tray card artwork by Snehal Patel. Back booklet artwork by Lisa McClain.

p. 2001 Walter Ehresman



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Walter Ehresman San Miguel De Allende, Mexico

Called "the quintessential Austin DIY artist" by famed local disc jockey Charlie Martin , Walter Ehresman was an eccentric presence in the Austin music scene from the '80s until his 2015 move to Mexico. A prolific songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and recording artist...and a restless musical spirit, always looking for something new, expressed with fearlessly honest lyric-writing. ... more

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Track Name: Ain't That Time
Ain’t That Time
(© 2001 Walter Ehresman)

Ain’t that time....................takes more days to feel ok;
Ain’t that time....................a few more grey hairs today;
Ain’t that time....................and all these kids with their tribal scars
Ain’t that time....................think that I came from a police car, and

Oh, Bobby asked his momma if this really could be the end;
Between their rehab and their Jesus and their kids, you know there’s been an attrition of friends;
and oh, there’s nothing like divorce to make you wonder if you can start again;
Shooting headfirst down the barrel of the wrong side of the curve, I’m just a salmon in a youthful trend.

Ain’t that time....................stagnation in my salary;
Ain’t that time....................my home ain’t what it used to be;
Ain’t that time....................standard of living is slippin’ down–
Ain’t that time....................three flights of stairs in a funky part of town, and

Track Name: Spin It
Spin It
(© 2001 Walter Ehresman)

Big boys are so shameless,
so ruthless and so slick;
On the TV, they’ll be twisting
the promise without the lick.

Lonely at the bottom,
though I’m here with all my friends;
They say it all runs downhill;
When I look up--I see the end.

There is no truth, there is only expediency;
Spin it.

The hat you wear tomorrow
is not the hat you wear today;
I think I’ll leave my ears at home
‘cause I know what you’re gonna say.

Heard you wonder why the bad guy
always wins out in the end;
Once hypocrisy hit the mainstream,
if you don’t scream--you’re hosed, my friend!
if you don’t scream--you’re hosed, my friend!
if you don’t scream--you’re hosed, my friend!

Track Name: Rain Down Like Dr. Phibes
Rain Down Like Dr. Phibes
(© 2000 W. Ehresman)

You poke me with that stick again, buddy, and you’re gonna pull back with a stub;
All those octopus suits, with The Man in cahoots, have brought things to the crux of the rub;
I know that you’re quick, you’ve got the moves of a tick, and you cultivate a Teflon style;
But the things that you do, and the stench that ensues, have got you walkin’ down the Terminal Mile.

A rain of toads, with a curse on your bones, to make you wish that you were never alive;
You know that I’m gonna rain down on you, rain down like Dr. Phibes.

I got a trace on your slithering conniption, with an eye in the sky above;
You’ve hit the worst high in low-down judgment since Sandra woke up with Bob;
When you stepped in my space, I felt your karma displace as you sunk into my pit of despair;
And I know that you think that you know what you think, but I think you’re gonna find yourself there.

It makes me sick, all the sins you inflict, and now you’re tryin’ to flick it on me;
But if you value your health, you’ll keep that stuff to yourself, or I’ll remove you from polite society.
You run in packs, ain’t never had the backbone to walk solo in the light of the day;
and I know that first step is so hard for you to take, so I think that I’ll just help you on your way.
Track Name: Now We're Through
Now We’re Through
(© 2000 Walter Ehresman)

You said I had it coming,
and you probably were right;
But at this point in the battle
I know the truth is outta sight;
And I know you gotta know, babe,
that the mud sure sticks to you;
But the times they are a’changin’,
and I’m thinkin’ now we’re through.

Now we’re through to the other side;
No concrete bunkers--got nothing to hide;
Rip your spleen right outta your side;
Save it in a bottle of formaldehyde;
And it’s true.....it might effect your health--
all those years keeping things to yourself;
Conquer by force and conquer by stealth;
A million mean triumphs as a measure of wealth;
And I know......it ain’t nothing new--
all the ugly things that we put each other through;
You’re aiming at me while I’m aiming at you;
A million tortured souls.......but now we’re through.

I said that this aggression
may be passive but it’s strong;
And just because you’re quiet, girl,
doesn’t mean that you’re not wrong;
And I know that my frustration’s
got me doin’ bad things too;
This boil, its got to bust, babe,
and I’m thinkin’ now we’re through.

Track Name: In My Master's House
In My Master's House
(© 2000 Walter Ehresman)

In my master's house, they don't think I see it;
In my master's house, they don't think I can understand;
In the night, I hear it--laughter leaks from under the door;
Economic entity--my master is not a living man.

In my master's house, they wallow in prosperity;
In my master's house, what they have they took from me;
When I was a young man, there were things not said out loud;
Now they strut and give no lip-service to equality.

Evil corporation--global (we are slaves, we must break free)
Evil corporation--national (we are slaves, we must break free)
Evil corporation--the state (we are slaves, we must break free)
Evil corporation--local (we are slaves, we must break free)

In my master's house, I see it happen everywhere;
In my master's house, I will not follow diversion;
I will spend my life pointing to nude emperors;
Man was never meant to be ruled by a legal fiction.

Track Name: The Ballad of the Solo Collective
The Ballad of the Solo Collective
(© 2000 Walter Ehresman)

When I go out West to Burn in the sun,
I don’t have to bop alone to have my fun;
You know I got to tell ya there’s some real nice people out there;
They put a cool, cool feeling in the air;
You know we work this thing together so that everybody’s got what they need;
You know we do this thing Collective as we dance away from anger and greed.

Toolin’ through the hurricane, groovin’ in the dust;
Swimming ‘cross the playa on a wave of elation and lust;
From all across the planet we converge on the rock that is black;
Feelin’ good to have your posse at your back;
So if you’re thinkin’ ‘bout a trip out to the desert for a thing that is new--
You don’t have to go alone because the Solo Collective’s here for you.
Track Name: The Poison Pill
The Poison Pill (©2000 Walter Ehresman)
Track Name: Club Moon
Club Moon
(© 2001 Walter Ehresman)

Club Moon............swim out on the dusty ocean;
Club Moon............offer up that magic potion;
Club Moon............come pursue that pink commotion;
Club Moon............Oh, Club Moon.
Track Name: I Must Be Doing Something Wrong (Or Something Right Backwards)
I Must Be Doing Something Wrong (Or Something Right Backwards)
(© 2000 Walter Ehresman)

Communication’s lacking;
This planet doesn’t feel right to me
(or maybe it’s just the people--I like the animals just fine).
My brain it won’t stop racking (I hear some people sleep);
I must be doing something wrong, or something right backwards.

Is it moral evolution?
Or an act of self-delusion?
Or am I cruisin’ for contusion?
Time-travel posse retribution?

Some people say you gotta be Downtown to play this shit;
Hell, I’ve never even been there!
I’m rooted in this backwards place;
Is it “splendid isolation,”
or just some guy with no friends?
I must be doing something wrong,
or something right backwards.
Track Name: Sleeping In a Box of Thunder
Sleeping in a Box of Thunder (© 2000 Walter Ehresman)
Track Name: A Soul Called Desolation
A Soul Called Desolation
(© 2001 Walter Ehresman)

They say when folks get married, there’s a role each must fulfill--
he’s hoping that the girl won’t change, and she’s gambling that he will.
I’d heard that old saw often, but you know we’re not like them--
we’ll be the first in history with no secret fires to tend.

So the ring, it was delivered, and the veil, it dropped away;
And the things I thought you valued are the things you scoff today;
And I never did become that man your hidden heart did seek,
and resentment snuffed the candle out, and that love is history.

The time for anger and the time for tears has passed us by;
And as the red and blue clouds part, I can glimpse the reason why,
with so many things I thought were true now long since blown away,
that we got and stayed together for seven years instead of days:
We were born with a soul called desolation, we just see the world that way.

It’s funny how the years roll past, and things just stay the same;
And money’s spent, and plans are made, like everything’s OK;
And my friends have all stopped asking why I’ve come again alone;
And my skin, it just feels hollow, and I’m just this far from gone.