GOODBYE THE BAND
"The Shape Of Vinyl To Come"
The constant recorded output of Goodbye the Band is maybe as a river, flowing ceaselessly, each album represented by a bucketful of its pure mountain-borne life force. That metaphor, though, sucks, mostly because it is too simple and also dumb to read. It is therefore better to write that the constant recorded output of Goodbye the Band is the product solely of John Aquadro's generous obsession and prodigious imagination.
Many teenagers in New Jersey or wherever pick up electric guitars, write amateurish rock songs, record some of them, and either go on to fame and success, or (more likely) just get better at what they do, or (even more likely) barely improve or quit altogether. During that formative phase, John Aquadro set himself apart by not only taking the first three steps but also more or less simultaneously teaching himself composition through MIDI sequencing.
In the ensuing intensely focused 15 years, he has occasionally utilized the guitar-and-voice singer-songwriter milieu boldly, with rhythmic assurance, and with a uniquely expressive and theatrical voice capable of portraying several characters, from deranged rapping to full-throated melodic tenor. The lyrics of these songs are uniformly excellent, even in the earliest examples; they can be poetic, demented, profane, hilarious and above all very deeply felt. Aquadro has been inspired in these fields by primarily inarguable greats such as Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, David Byrne, Beck Hansen, Kurt Cobain and the members of Sonic Youth, all of whose styles and approaches he has internalized and then altered through his own lens of dark humor and perverse sentiment.
More often, though, he has turned to his computer, and specifically to its synthesizers and sequencers. Granted, these would frequently be employed in the aforementioned rock tunes, given that those were recorded and often arranged digitally. But then there are the works where the guitar either takes a back seat or stays on the floor, and in these cases, armed with a massive palette of virtual tools and an increasingly fine-tuned ear for timbre, John turns everything he has ever heard, whether in heavy rotation (the so-named, plus Dirty Projectors, Aphex Twin, Autechre, Stereolab, &c.) or merely in passing/ambiently, into fair game for electronic composition. And while a number of these tracks are richly and deservedly instrumental, John's distinctive voice and words also frequently come to play, sometimes with filters that distort the vocal role to even higher theatrical heights.
To itemize precisely how the literally countless albums and thousands of songs Goodbye the Band has released during its lifespan thus far falls into either or both of these categories would be a dumb, boring thing to do here. It is far more interesting to go listen to virtually any one or ten of those albums, perhaps even chosen at random. HOWEVER – before you do this, and you should – the intent of this press release has in fact been to give proper context for, and then sufficiently describe, the new Goodbye the Band album called The Shape of Vinyl to Come, which manages to transcend the entire context above in one bizarre pile of rapidly-formed genius.
In what is already being described as The October Of The Century by Goodbye The Band from Goodbye the Band on Vimeo
With the title The Shape of Vinyl to Come, John Aquadro references the name of Ornette Coleman's forward-thinking 1959 masterpiece The Shape of Jazz to Come and reframes it as an arch commentary on the morphing state of music media, with an eye cocked towards the question of how musicians perceive their creations will be formatted and consumed in the current uber-digital era. Despite said cocking, the album comes in at 40 minutes, the perfect length for vinyl – a medium that is not likely to change, hence a more literal reading of the title in which it becomes a "joke." Yet within its LP-sized boundaries, The Shape of Vinyl to Come traffics almost exclusively in experiential bends of time, space and compositional decency, magnifying the joke to cosmic proportions and once again proving the serious talent and creativity of our auteur.
Here Aquadro uses vocals sparingly and with words and affects that achieve a comic pathos, as on opening track "Lost in the Movies" which evokes and slightly warps the pastoral side of John Cale. The majority of The Shape of Vinyl to Come that follows is instrumental, featuring two lengthy highlights: a slab of carefully programmed, immersively spatial techno-minimalism that, as it dodges and weaves, also slows down gradually for 11 solid minutes ("God Hates Everybody"); and a number that opens with a fucked-up piano bar jingle only to transform into a gorgeously psychedelic rock 'n' roll chamber-stomp ("Stop Blaming the Government for Your Problems"). There are also miniatures that follow in form from last year's Uncle Narratologist (itself a masterpiece of contemporary baroque electronic miniatures), but in a manner stripped to their jagged essence – and other miniatures that open wormholes of delight and/or unrelenting confusion.
These descriptions cannot compare to an actual entire listen through. Truly, the overall effect of The Shape of Vinyl to Come, the latest statement in the evolving and ever-mutating practice of Goodbye the Band, is of a musical aesthetic that references its extramaterial qualities, a music that both fulfills "what it could have been" and hints at "what it could be but is not and will never be." In doing so, there is a rare openness to its presentation – an object (like a record) unchangeable and even rigid, yet so eclectic and uncharted in the effect of its layout as to be consistently variable and fresh, thrillingly reinventing itself and its creator while forging new pathways for the willing listener.
- Spencer Owen,
alias DJ Sharkey, KALX | Sundays at noon (West Coast time)
Tar and twitter him!: @SharkeytheDJ
©2013 Import Jr. Records