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Transportation is the time-traveling vehicle of Chandra Oppenheim, a 12-year-old fronting a hair-raising post-punk / mutant-disco outfit. The year was 1980, and the setting was Hell’s Kitchen, New York, at the anomalous intersection of art and music. As the daughter of eminent conceptual artist Dennis Oppenheim, Chandra showed considerable promise as a songwriter and performer from the age of 7. This inspired New York noisemakers The Model Citizens (later transforming into The Dance) to approach the young firestarter and become her backing band.
With Chandra penning the songs’ lyrics and vocal melodies, her adult accompanists laid down abrasively propulsive grooves,lending their recordings a singular sound. Rubbery bass lines, resonant organs, razor wire guitars and the spectral dub echoes of the melodica are driven by Chandra’s commanding vocals. Imagine a tweenage Lizzy Mercier Descloux or the schoolyard jump rope chants of ESG stripped to their skeletal essence. Little did she know, this was an electric time and place! Only a child’s imagination could fathom sharing a rehearsal space with Madonna or a stage with The B-52’s. But Chandra was no typical girl — she was no Kate!
Lyrically, Chandra’s songs reflect the day-to-day dualities of the people and events in an off-kilter life. Adolescent vs. adult. Artist vs. individual. New Wave vs. No Wave. All the boys stare at the girl with blonde hair. Her words are concrete, simple and repetitive, inciting a conceptual reaction to the pure poetry of inner monologues from a creatively unshackled child. Without a single effects pedal, Chandra’s clean, multi-tracked vocals prove that musical trips can start by going backwards and gazing within. Transportation takes the listener to faraway places with raw emotions expressed free of affectation. This record is both a fountain of youth and a vessel of transformation, traveling beyond age or time.
The original Transportation EP was released in 1980 by ON / GO GO Records, the band’s own imprint, and has since become a long-lost cult classic. Cantor Records and Rain Boots Records are proud to reissue the four-song EP with the addition of four unreleased songs by The Chandra Dimension (Chandra’s touring band comprised entirely of teenagers). The cherries on top are a rarely seen 1980 music video for the Transportation standout “Concentration” as well as three unreleased demos, unveiled exclusively with this reissue. Following a previous 2008 pressing, the perpetually out of print and highly sought after release is available on vinyl once again.