Anything Box Is Back From "Oblivion"

Anything Box has been one of the definitive synth-pop bands since Claude Strilio and his cohorts unleashed "Living in Oblivion" on the radio waves in 1990. Since then, the band has done what all great bands do, they've stretched, changed, experimented, given up, given up on giving up, and now they're coming here at the quiet, but fervent request of Houston's last Goth promoter, Robert Ehlinger. They will assault the stage Saturday at Numbers.

"We wanted to mix synth-pop with darkwave (Goth) because it is an organic combination," says Ehlinger. "But also with an Anything Box quote in mind: 'In 1988 the vampires loved us and always made it to our shows.' This was when they were still unsigned. We figured this would make for a good melting pot of talent and ideas to make this an awesome Synthpop/Darkwave experience."

Ehlinger has paving the way for his mating of traditional synth and Goth sensibilities for three years; he also runs Club Etro's The New Beat on Saturday nights. A true fan of all things electronic, Ehlinger has also invited our own recently reunited Provision to open. Provision has been a mainstay throughout all of Houston's electronic history, and plans to release a new album within a year. In the meantime, you can look forward to selections from their lengthy catalog that haven't been seen on a Houston stage since 2004.

Anything Box plans to include a wide variety of their hits. The band released a strange album called 19 in 2007, which was reconstructed from a demo tape almost 20 years old.

"19 was a backwards looking project, but on the other hand, it was put away...," says Strilio. "That is, it was sealed to keep a moment in time, which is what good recordings do. However, I do look forward to the future. It is uncertain, yet full of musical possibilities. I go through periods of assimilation and renewal. For me, divorce and becoming a single dad has created a wellspring of ideas..."

Strilio, like many artists of the late '80s and early '90s, has embraced the digital revolution for its chance to connect with fans and the control it gives of their product. 19 was download only, as was a recent EP.

Strilio is a renowned visual artists as well as a musician, but where the decline of album art's importance in the age of iTunes has discouraged other musicians, Strilio has embraced it. A Web site accompanying 19 was a fully interactive and playful storytelling experience utilizing Strilio's artwork.

"If I had my way, Anything Box albums would come inside a 12x12 full color hardcover book," he says. "I love publishing. It's the painter side of me. But I have to deal within the limits. At least for a bit. Next album will surely tell."

It's hard for a band to encompass decades and still stay current, vibrant and, most importantly, relevant, but Anything Box has managed to do all three. A new renaissance of electronica is happening in Houston, with many acts that previously skipped us now finding that there is a scene waiting for them with open arms. Hopefully we'll see more work from Ehlinger and the keyboard Gods he ministers on behalf of.

Anything Box and Provision, 9 p.m. Saturday, April 10, at Numbers, 300 Westheimer, 713-526-6551 or

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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner