Graham Repulski: Permission To Love tape + Negative Highlight Reel tape (Shorter Recordings, 2018)

January 10, 2018 at 9:52 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Graham Repulski: Permission To Love tape

Philadelphia-based lo-fi artist Graham Repulski just released two 10-minute tapes, both of which contain unique artwork for every copy, seemingly cut out from a book or magazine. Judging by the “Good bye” and “Good night” messages on their Bandcamp pages, these might be the end of the project? He doesn’t appear to have a Facebook page anymore. Anyway, Permission To Love is described on the artist’s Bandcamp page as “7 tracks of funky fun”. His music is a sort of fun, but not in an obvious, crowdpleasing way. This is extremely cryptic, lo-fi tape-collage rock, with big, tuneful melodies stretched out, obscured, distorted, and rearranged. He can very obviously write straightforward power pop songs if he wanted to, but other people do that, so he contorts them and screws them up. Songs that could be proper anthems are cut to shreds, cut off after a minute (the opening title track seems like an anthem in the making that was half taped over), howled under fuzz, and just otherwise fucked around with. The longest track is “Soft As Shit”, which opens side B and consists of 3 minutes of a simple piano pattern with stacks of raucous guitars dancing around. Sometimes lyrics are included on his Bandcamp page, but not for this one, so it’s mostly impossible to make out what he’s saying, but the melodies themselves are likely to stick in your head. Of the two new tapes he’s releasing, this one seems to be the more musical, and maybe the more humorous of the two (titles include “I’d Buy That For a Dollar” and “Malcolm’s Ex”), but the music itself doesn’t contain any obvious jokes or punchlines. But at the same time, it feels like some sort of absurdist performance art, and it’s hard not to find some sort of humor in it.

Graham Repulski: Negative Highlight Reel tape

Negative Highlight Reel is definitely the more experimental of the two tapes. There’s hints of melodies and some rocking out (especially the title track), but lots of abstraction and obscurity. “Staring At Zero” is soft singing and faint strumming masked by abrasive backwards loops. The entire second side seems like the decayed, dried out remains of rock songs, with no discernible lyrics or hooks. “Bad Mop” is entirely backwards, and “Eureka Slink” is just a faint shred of a tune sung over what sounds like the worst phone connection ever, yet there’s a few other layers of beats and background noise patched together. Then “Kimp Notch” is a hair-raising coda of guitar feedback and yowling. This almost seems like a miniature version of Jandek’s “The Electric End”, and if this really is the end, there’s no more fitting way for this project to go out. But then, “The Electric End” wasn’t the end of Jandek, so who can tell, maybe I’m just projecting here. We’ll see!

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