Sunday, August 31, 2008
Greg Kelley - Shearing Husks
This one was a little hard to get into. Greg Kelley plays the trumpet, but he doesn't play the trumpet the way you or I would play the trumpet. Well, maybe he does, but it sure doesn't sound like it.
Self-Hate Index is a noise record, and although it has it's moments of the power electronics sound, I'd be hesitant to lump it in with that kind of music right away. Greg Kelley is doing something different, something more. Yes, this is an entirely new genre as far as I'm concerned. I shall dub thee "trumpet noise!" Creative, huh? I give you permission to use that whenever you feel like it, as long as you give me credit. Apparently, according to the liner notes, trumpet is the only thing played on this record. That may be true, but I'm positively certain that there is a good deal of electronic wizardry going into manipulating that trumpet.
There are bits of acoustic sounds that you can tell is some dude blowing into something, although not necessarily a trumpet. It's the kind of sound that's full of high pressure air. But that's where this Greg Kelley guy gets smart. He takes one of the most organic sounding things (air) and blurs and pushes the lines so you never really know if you're listening to something electronic or not. Yeah, people have done the analog/digital, nature/machine thing over and over again, but I've never heard something as compelling as this. Not to mention that I often have a hard time actually distinguishing human air and electronic air. That, to me, is a sure sign of success.
Self-Hate Index is pretty scary, with lots of squeaky metal and guy-screaming-for-his-life-about-to-die sounds, all coming from this magical trumpet. Sometimes you can hear Kelley breathing in for the next push, sometimes you hear caustic, thick static that makes you really wonder if it's possible that a trumpet is the source of it.
This is not an easy record to listen to. I'd go so far as to say that Prurient's And Still, Wanting (one of my favorite records this year) is more accessible than this. That had a lot of structure whereas Self-Hate Index is pretty free form. It's all over the place and everything melts together into one long fucked-up-trumpet-athon (there are 7 tracks running just over 45 minutes). This is a chaotic album that requires time and patience. As of right now, I know I haven't given it enough of those things. I love it nonetheless and have every intention of sitting with it to let the intricacies of Kelley's trumpet reveal themselves to me. I know they're there, and I'll be damned if I'm gonna let them hide from me.
Greg Kelley is having the CD Release Party for Self-Hate Index on September 6th at The Piano Factory, along with The Epicureans (who are also doing the CD release thing) and Jed Spear. Semata Productions is putting on the show and releasing both records.