Unconfirmed Sightings

by Jason Hoffman Unconfirmed Sightings

So what do you do if you’re a professional studio owner with 24/7 access to state of the artequipment and lots of creative friends? You create something that’s imaginative and yet not necessarily marketable: You create art. And so it was that Monastic Chambers guru Jon Gillespie set off on a journey with poet Jeff Britton (also known as Wordsworth001) and Michael Patterson to create something new and adventurous, in search of the holy grail of creative endeavors.

“I’ll start right off by agreeing with Gillespie when he states that “the kids don’t get it” on this project. There isn’t a heavy beat nor angsty lyrics nor much of anything that is on popular radio. Well, there may be some of these things, but they don’t stay long, and they’re mixed with enough elements of modern classical music and offbeat rock influences that it takes a few listens before the depth of the music fully sinks in.

To try to describe these 14 tracks, each one markedly different than the other, would take a lot of ink. They run the gamut from the artsy pastiche of electronic chirps, piano and restrained guitar (“Rezzanator”), to straight up rockin’ blues (“Don’t Mean A Thing”), to clean 80s pop with a touch of radio R&B (“Fly Away”), to flat-out experimental.

Many songs combine a variety of emotions, such as “River of the Innocents,” where ghostly synth and a mysterious verse disintegrate into a distorted, chugging chorus of angry words. “Totem” takes cascading piano and arpeggio guitar notes in 3/4 time and slowly adds chaos in the form of a second figure in 5/4 time and harmonized vocals, making a minimalist composition gone horribly wrong. Fans of Dave Thomas’ solo work will enjoy “Seconds” with its “humid Mississippi nights” feel, and the throbbing, buzzing “Broken Wheel” simmers with touches of King Crimson guitars and progressive production touches. Then there’s the intentionally schmaltzy “Lethal Contentment” with a 70s soft rock, lounge music beat and melody so forcibly happy and saccharin that one cannot help but smile.

Those who have worked with Gillespie and crew know of the utmost care and musical craftsmanship they apply to their work. Joining them on this album are Kent Klee of Fawn Liebowitz, playing drums on many tracks, as well as a cavalcade of the area’s finest musicians, including Dave Streeter, Eric Clancy, Jim Rossington, Felix Moxter, Kevin Piekarski, Amy Lee Moser and Mark Burris.

Wordsworth001 steps up to the plate with a duffel bag full of clever and insightful lyrics, ranging from “Because of your previous conditioning / You may feel entitled to guitars” to “Sorrow works alone digging straight down / Through the sleeping roots / Through the Earth’s bones / Down to the foundation.” The combination of great lyrics, musicianship and studio surprises is a mature collection of songs that, if given time in your busy schedule to ferment, will surely make you giddy with their intoxicating hidden treasures.

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