Leo Minor is a relatively faint constellation up in the northern sky that comprises an array of 37 distant stars.
Closer to home Leo Minor is a nom de bass of local veteran musician Jason Todd. Though this Leo Minor is just one star, it draws on a vast array of musical influences.
The latest result of the ongoing project is a white label vinyl 7" 45 – limited to 100 copies – which you can find at Rush-Mor Records in Bay View.
"Cold War Radio" and, the flip, a dub version, are blippy drum machine-fueled funk – with keyboard gouaches – that sounds like it could have been created by Arthur Baker in 1981.
Leo Minor, though not new, is also not THAT old, says Todd, who has been involved in numerous influential projects around town, including Wild Kingdom, Milwaukee Creative Music Ensemble and Def Harmonic.
"Started in 2005, in the middle of doing a lot of Def Harmonic work and other projects," he recalls.
"Initially, I had some meetings with nearly every label in the UK in 2007, and without trying to sound too tragic it became a series of failures for a while," Todd says.
During that time Leo Minor was even featured in Britain’s prestigious The Guardian newspaper.
"I'm no 22-year-old pop star ya know, not even back then. Released a single here, an EP there. The single "Down With Me" is somehow still in the computerized playlists of 88.9 Radio Milwaukee, where it pops up from time to time.
"I wanted to do something kind of fused what I was doing then in hip-hop with some of my earlier teenage influences; Bowie, Human League, New Order."
The mannered vocals – of which there aren’t many on these tracks that are light on lyrics and heavy on bass – bear the most obviously witness to those influences.
This 45 is just one of a string of Leo Minor projects that Todd has planned for 2015. He plans a digital release next month, followed by another 7" in the fall.
"I left things alone for a while," he says, "but now I'm getting some momentum back."
Todd is also taking Leo Minor back to the stage and his first gig of the year is during the next MELT at the Cactus Club on Saturday, May 30.
"For the live show I am working it without a laptop, which is a big and happy switch for me," he says. "It is an all analog MIDD set. So I guess there is maybe slightly more to see as opposed to the traditional laptop set."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.