Exposé Online banner

Ashley Reaks — Growth Spurts
((Not on label) no#, 2017, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-07-18

Growth Spurts Cover art

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.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Ashley Reaks

More info
http://ashleyreaks.bandcamp.com/album/growth-spurts

Latest news

2019-01-11
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more

2019-01-02
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more

2018-12-23
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more

2018-11-16
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more

2018-11-02
Charles O'Meara (C.W. Vrtacek) RIP – A true musical original has left us. Charles O'Meara, who recorded under the name C.W. Vrtacek, was a wild-card musical talent, ranging from complex progressive rock to introspective modern compositions, with stops at many places inbetween. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Mindgames - International Daylight – Mindgames is yet another new neo-prog band from the Low Countries, Belgium in this case. This is their first full album, following a 1999 demo release (a new release is supposedly on the way). The...  (2005) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues