Bracing (Obeast Tapes/Family Time Recordings, 2009)
For: Jasper, TX, Flying Saucer Attack, The Fun Years
Byline: One of most unabashedly gushed about records of (last) year. Full of warm and inviting guitar tones with a dangerous streak of harsh noise running beneath
Bracing, as the title indicates, is an album fraught with anticipations and expectations that are either fully delivered or assiduously withheld from the listener. For example, the opening track "Softened" opens with a swell of harsh noise, the sound of a brittle chasm opening wide, gaping wounds in the earth. But, as delicious as this would be, it is only a warning shot just to see if you are paying attention, letting you know that Greenspon could, if he wanted, turn his shimmering, sunbathed guitar into a Norse-God hammer or Merzbow's laptop. With the Sword of Damocles dangling just above, or surging just below the surface, Greenspon is delivers on his most faithful of promises, 9 songs of gorgeous, hazy guitar drones that have nary an equal.
Kevin Greenspon's guitar tones inhabit that between-world of nyquil induced sleep-comas where every sound seems far away, without form or location. Songs like "Petty Dream" and "Sundowner Lane" hold onto remnants of that place, coming through in shimmering guitar lines and delicately structured drones that stream in with the rays of dislocated beauty from another world on their wings. Vocals, when present, swim somewhere deep below the sub-basement fidelity finding companion with the warm vinyl cracks and tape hiss. They sing with the guitar melodies instead of competing against the warmer tones.
In terms of delivering and witholding, much of Bracing gets off on withholding. Allowing harsher, darker tones to seep through for a few seconds, only to be ushered back into the shadows by a legion of warm/washed out beach-bummer guitar tones. All listening enjoyment is filtered through a dangerous promise that this could be smashed up by moments of harsh noise. Greenspon delivers halfway through the title-track "Bracing" when those harsh tones come out from beneath the surface and make their roaring (second) debut. The first time is unexpected, all subsequent times you brace impact.
Released in 2009, I heard a rumor (somewhere?) that this is going to get a 2010 re-release. If it does, this is a strong contender for album of the year. In fact, this is the best exploratory guitar/drone album since The Fun Years dropped Baby It's Cold Inside, or Chris Rehm's ridiculously strong Salivary Stones. And while the TOME wasn't around then to be on the receiving end for that masterpiece of warm/sullen guitarwork, it is safe to say that I have the same enthusiasm and all out gushing for this 2009 release by Kevin Greenspon. So here it is. You need this album. In fact, you (along with me) need to check out Greenspon's extensive back-catalogue, we (I am talking to you the reader) should get together and have listening parties. It has been too long. I can bring the sour-cream green onion dip, if you get some fruit/cheese platter around. Great, glad we could do this.
Bracing is limited to 100 copies so get on this!
So much good stuff here. Kevin Greenspon's website, where this and other releases can be obtained. Also Family Time Records is putting this baby out on CD.
Here is a charming mixtape that Kevin Greenspon currated. It can be downloaded on his site.