I am not normally drawn to sparse, dryly produced, quirky, almost 90s-style indie music and abstract lyrics, but Kloba does this sort of thing better than anyone I’ve heard…her voice is a meandering coo, her lyrics are beguiling. She’s a buried American musical treasure that deserves to be unearthed, because you don’t come across a true original very often.
Back in late 2017, I contributed a track “He Lights Up” to the Winter Solstice compilation album from Vanguardista Records. For 2018, the compilation is being re-released with a bonus track and new artwork:
My track was reviewed briefly by Mark Barton at The Sunday Experience:
“Must admit, we here are quite adoring of Diane Marie Kloba’s slyly snaking ‘he lights up’ its fraying slacker-esque turning emitting a subtle sinister shadow to the proceedings that curiously hits something of a Television-esque grooving.”
From Mark Whitby’s review of Ghost in the Museum:
…in Kloba’s hands, ancient pre-existing musical notes are dragged into the world and twisted into new, enticing shapes. ‘The answer is already in your mind’ we’re reminded in ‘A Thousand Pretty Strings’, one of the album’s many highlights.
From Oliver Arditi’s review of Dandelion Exclusives:
This is a work of pronounced creative maturity, turning our attention to Kloba’s quizzical observations with a deft, un-manipulative touch, and employing the simple resources of guitar pop with singular power.
From the KZSU (Stanford University) review of It Is All an Illusion:
Outsider new age avant-pop-rock. Jittery jarring electric guitar, female vocal stylings uncannily reminiscent of Gordon Gano. From the press sheet, you can expect sarcasm, verbal metaphors, and increased emphasis on the instrumental music, but with Kloba’s trademark hopefulness shining through all of this. As a non-musician I’m not sure if the songs are remarkably simple or atheoretical; give it a play and decide for yourself.
From Oliver Arditi‘s review of It Is All An Illusion:
She just has some stuff she really wants to share, and her creative practice is driven by the important insight that the content should shape the form, and not vice versa. The measure of this music’s quality is its outstanding effectiveness as an act of communication; by conventional standards it sounds rhythmically tentative, melodically half-formed, its phrases more like conversation than the shapely rhetorical figures of mainstream songwriting. But sticking to the shapes and colours of established formula tends to restrict the meanings of the songs to those that formula was developed to convey, and although many composers have found ways to write around those tendencies, to great effect in many cases, It Is All An Illusion takes a more direct approach; Kloba confronts her meanings head on, and makes a music of her own experience, on her own terms.
It’s something not bound by style descriptions or by musical conventions. At times – as on ‘That’s How It Goes’ – the narrative quickly escapes any musical constraints and the result has a disjointed fascination that few of Kloba’s listed musical heroes could ever hope to obtain. There are times when the jagged instrumentation attains something akin to a definable and sustained riff – as on ‘Diane Has Words’ – but once again the restless zeal for experimentation in this artist’s work never allows anything predictable or conventional to settle on it before the music escapes once again, bidding the listener to follow only as a sonic explorer. ‘It Was Me’ has the temerity to spin off still further, into a courageous and deeply endearing realm of humour. Kloba plays with sound, and sometimes it even plays back.
From a review of I Am an Unknown Artist by Oliver Arditi:
Much avant-garde music shares with this album a cultivated naïveté in the way it presents its materials, thrust directly at the listener like the gifts of a child: the crucial difference is that in most cases this is a mediated and ironic strategy, a knowing and fundamentally defensive measure. In Kloba’s case her approach represents a committed and heartfelt search for the best expression of her endearingly positive meanings.
From the KZSU (Stanford University) review of I Am an Unknown Artist:
All tracks are highly hypnotic as if a ghost is whispering in your ear. The mood is very avant-garde and a touch psychedelic, a bit like Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” Repeated use of non-harmonic tones and monologues in the vocal, sometimes supported by backup chorus. Heavy reverb and echo effects cause the lyrics to “float around in the air”. Lead guitar plays the melodies with slight overdrive and rhythm guitar uses distorion. Various percussions are used such as regular drums, African drums, and gong.
Diane Marie Kloba is a Chicago native who these days hunkers down in west-suburban Franklin Park. She’s a free-spirited strangeling who writes and performs wry, ramshackle avant pop. Active since the 1990s when she fronted the band The Silent Workers, For You, Stranger is her fourth solo album…Kloba’s singing voice is an unadorned, slightly flat alto holler—its guilelessness is its charm. She accompanies herself with electric guitar, drums and percussion, and an occasional flute part. Her style draws from folk as well as punk (punk’s uninhibited expressionism but not its aggression). Kloba’s technique is nonchalant, but never lazy or unmusical, and the same can be said of the four bandmates whom she gathers in ones and twos to join her on individual songs. To compensate for the dry sound of a small recording studio, Kloba often pours on echo and reverb effects for some agreeably swimmy atmospheres. Her peculiar wordplay is abstract on first listen, but eventually reveals a guardedly hopeful worldview…For You, Stranger should find a connection with our listeners. It’s a warm, weird, spirited offering from an unabashedly nerdy innovator.
From the review of For You Stranger in the March 2010 Illinois Entertainer:
Diane Marie Kloba pursues a more avant-garde sound on her latest solo effort, For You, Stranger, than she did as a member of The Silent Workers. At times, her spoken, childlike vocals and spacey arrangements get too cutesy as on the title track, but the sparse “For Inventors” has an intimate charm. “Skurf,” a spooky, guitar-driven instrumental adds a bit of fun, and “Keepable (Drum Experiment)” is an engaging indie-rock tune.
– Terrence Flamm
From the review of For You, Stranger by Your Imaginary Friend at KZSU (Stanford University):
…a higher art form than we are mostly used to.
…Not a cliché or pop pandering bullshit melody or guitar line to be found.
…refreshing, so non-narcissistic…