Ashley Reaks — Growth Spurts
((Not on label) no#, 2017, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2017-07-18
Musical collage artist Ashley Reak is back with another set of art-rock tunes, and once again he straddles musical streams without regard to how far he needs to stretch his legs. And that metaphor is as confusing as Growth Spurts can be. Each of the ten tracks is a little world of its own, though there are many commonalities. Reaks sings on most of the tracks, and nearly all of the arrangements feature woodwinds. Joel Purnell and Oliver Dover provide saxophones, clarinets, duduk (an Armenian reed instrument), and sipsi (a Turkish reed instrument), and their parts are often woven together into interlocking patterns, though sometimes they also provide more typical chordal punctuation or solos. The rest of the instrumentation consists of Reaks and Nick Dunne on keyboards, bass, and guitars along with programmed drums and percussion (presumably from Reaks). Stylistically, elements of rock, pop, jazz, and avant-garde mix together at various times and in various ways, often providing smile-inducing moments of creativity. A quick electronic beat with synth chords will be topped by atonal bursts of craziness from a clarinet; jazzy piano flourishes top an electronic beat oblivious to the tempo; multiple acoustic guitar lines give way to insane electric guitar noises. In addition to Reaks, Maria Jardardottir sings, and several tracks have guests providing either sung or spoken vocal parts. As much as I like the instrumental parts, it is the spoken word sections that sometimes kill my appreciation, whether it is Mike Watts and his intimate details of a one-night stand or Kevin Boniface and his encounters with rats dead and alive or the computerized voice describing sexual encounters on “The King Blows His Horn.” These gritty poems might appeal to poetry slam junkies, but for this listener just don’t work. I’ll stick with “Slugs and Snails Forever,” “Metal Fang,” “Divorced from the Body,” and “I Want to Live in Morphine,” all of which are great tunes without poetry recitations.
Related artist(s): Ashley Reaks
New Aristocrats Live Album on the Way – No foolin'! These supreme musicians toured Europe early in 2020, just before touring ceased to be a thing musicians could do, and there were some hot performances captured. On May 7, some of these will be releases as Freeze! Live in Europe 2020. » Read more
Jewlia Eisenberg RIP – The sad news has come out that Jewlia Eisenberg has died. As a founding member of Charming Hostess, Eisenberg changed the face of music, bringing together Balkan klezmer, American folk, and experimental rock in a distinctive blend that garnered much praise. » Read more
SoundQuest Fest 2021 – SoundQuest Fest, first experienced as a live festival in Tucson Arizona in 2010 was created by ambient music pioneer Steve Roach. This 2021 event will unite a worldwide gathering of artists and audience members together for a 3-day online event unique in the realm of ambient music. From March 26-28th a continuous flow of streamed performances, audio-video wonder worlds and deep immersion zones will burn bright on Roach’s YouTube channel. » Read more