Wednesday, March 25, 2015

LEONARD CHARLES "Abracelebrex"
(Become Eternal)



Every other release I've listened to for Cassette Gods in the last month was some variant on improvised noise/electronic sound collage, but this tape, by a one-man band with two first names, is about as far from harsh noise as you can get while still existing in the same universe.

At first listen, Lenny here seems to be a young Kiwi jazz musician and collector of classic electronic gear, and he's put together an impressively cheesy cassette of lite funk and synth jazz, heavy on the slap bass and programmed drums and monophonic keyboard solos. I struggled to wrap my head around it at first -- was Lenny intentionally trying to recreate the hold music I endured the last time I called Verizon Wireless to dispute my phone bill? But then I thought about the potential connection contemporary vaporwave artists and synth funk revivalists like Dam Funk. And then I wondered, do kids in New Zealand even give a crap about Dam Funk? I don't have a clue. And in the end I had to give up, because this music is just inexplicable and terribly awesome/awesomely terrible in ways I can't explain. Lenny clearly knows his way around a synthesizer; whether he should be legally allowed to put his hands on one is a different question.

After listening a few times, I was confused enough by the existence of this tape that I decided to go online and read the label bio (always a last resorts), which put a totally different spin on things. Turns out Lenny wrote these songs by himself while recovering from a head injury he suffered in an assault at one of his shows. I can't tell how I feel about this; while it does offer some explanation for the odder moments on this tape, it also kind of puts a damper on the unbridled energy I felt when I first listened to it. But then I put the tape back on, and instead of worrying about head injuries, I'm transported back to where I was on first listen.

The tracks with vocals sound kind of like Steely Dan, and the tracks that use cut up drums are more like Boards of Canada with the kitsch factor turned up to 11, but in the end it's all part of one singular and unstoppable frothing mozzarella volcano. After listening again three or four times, all I can say is: I want to hear more from this guy.

--Will Griscom

Physical copies: http://www.coffeeheadduck.com/#!sounds/c1dqn
Digital audio: http://shessorad.bandcamp.com/album/abracelebrex-e-p

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