SALTON SEA – Project of Bleak But Beautiful Decay

by Red Cell

Editor’s note: This article is reprinted from the Salton Sea site.

Bosko Hrnjak and Truus de Groot’s Salton Sea.

In 1905, nature hooked up with human greed to spawn a 378 square-mile, sea-like lake in the middle of California’s pristine desert. Home to hundreds of species of migratory birds displaced by California’s rampant development, the Salton Sea is serene, vast and indescribably beautiful. It was the second most popular tourist destination during America’s postwar boom … but now it’s used as a repository for agricultural waste water. The most polluted river in America flows into it, causing massive fish and bird die offs.

Some of the poorest communities in California are found there; by the 1970s people had abandoned the area in droves, which today is largely inhabited by retirees, farm workers, and many who cannot make a life anywhere else. (To quote one long-time Salton Sea local, “all the normal people have left or died.”) The juxtaposition of natural wonder, filthy pollution, and impoverished ghost towns of mid-century modern architecture presents a surreal version of the American dream.

An exhibition of sight and sound, which grew out of our obsession with urban archeology. We have been exploring the Salton Sea desert area’s endlessly fascinating mid-century ruins — and the awe-inspiring natural beauty surrounding them — for many years (see about page). The photographs really captured the visual poetics of the place, but we felt that sound and music could engage the subject on an entirely different level, opening it up sensually.

In 2009 we were in residency at STEIM, where our original idea was to make an ambient background for art installation settings — but we found that the work was equally suited for a live performance. What you hear on the sample cuts are both styles of work.


Bosko Hrnjak

Bosko Hrnjak was born in Los Angeles 1963 and raised in Southern California’s San Gabriel valley amongst its mid-century splendor. He received his BFA in 1988 from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. Bosko is best known for his Polynesian inspired sculptures, ceramics and design work. Book of Tiki and Tiki Modern author Sven Kirsten calls Bosko “The Pioneer of the Tiki Revival.”

His other acclaimed artistic works include paintings, sculpture, photography, three dimensional assemblages, musical concepts and a modern wood art line inspired by the legendary Witco Company. Bosko’s art work has been exhibited at: La Luz De Jesus, Track 16, Outré gallery, Tamara Bane, Roc La Rue, Huntington Beach Art Center, Copro Nason gallery, M-Modern gallery, Minna gallery, M-1 gallery, Beyond Baroque, Rita Dean gallery, Harold Golen Gallery and many others throughout the world. Bosko and his work have been featured in numerous books, newspaper and magazine articles – New York Times, U.S News and World report, Mono (Japan) and many more – radio and television interviews, documentaries and short films.

Truus de Groot

Truus de Groot’s musical career spans over the last 3 decades. Born in Eindhoven , The Netherlands she debuted as a chanteuse just at the beginning of the Punk craze in 1976. Playing in a number of Dutch bands she released her first single in 1979 with a duet called “Plus Instruments”. Playing odd electronic instruments and vocals most of their performances were improvised. She teamed up Michel Waisvisz the inventor of the Crackle Synthesizer in numerous performances. At the same time she was also the lead singer in the popular Dutch New Wave Band “Nasmak” who released an album in 1980.

But after hundreds of performances all through Europe Truus was looking for more challenges and in 1981 got on a plane to NYC never to call the Netherlands her home again.. Armed with background tapes of electronic percussion she reformed Plus Instruments with Lee Renaldo (now in Sonic Youth) on guitar and David Linton on Drums, while Truus played Bass and sang Lead Vocals. With this line-up they hit the New York club scene, released an Album and on to a European Tour. After returning to the US Truus again reformed the band with a number of musicians always very active on the club scene both in NY and Europe. At the same time she worked on her solo career performing at the famed “Kitchen” in Soho and playing with Rhys Chatham. In 1983 she hooked up with James Sclavunos ( Lydia Lunch, Sonic Youth, the Cramps and now with Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds) to start a completely new chapter. She took a U-turn from the Electronic Euro-Beat and temporarily moved to Memphis to start Trigger & the Thrill Kings with Jim Duckworth (Gun Club) playing a very raunchy Bleus, country rockabilly mix. Again they toured throughout Europe and the US and released various records. After so many years of touring, and numerous record releases, TV and Radio performances she decided to quit the music business in the late 80’s. Throughout the years she has been creating and recording her music. Some of the songs were recorded by The Vanity Set (James Sclavunos’ new band). In 1998 she married renowned artist Bosko and moved to Escondido, CA. Inspired by Bosko’s love for Polynesian Pop and encouraged by him to share her creations with the world, she finally decided to release a brand new CD entitled “Muzotica” in 2000, Rancho Exotica in 2005 and finally “Ritualis” in 2009. All three feature a unique take on Exotica Music. Her latest CD release: Salton Sink Vol 1 – Salton Sea is Truus’ and Bosko’s soundtrack for the salton Sea project. Out April 2010

CD Review from Fret Magazine (Netherlands)

Truus, known as the front woman of the band Nasmak in the 80’s, was inspired by the lost paradise and natural wonder of Salton Sea. She create this CD filled with mysterious soundscapes. The compositions were created mostly by the sounds of unpredictable instruments, such as the Crackle Synthesizer. In addition to that she used various percussion instruments made from found objects at the Salton Sea by collaborator and artist Bosko Hrnjak. The most surprising element is her forceful vocals, exciting, vivacious and merciless.

You can listen to some trax and purchase the album here at the Salton Sea site.

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