Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cassette Review: bob bucko JR "Analog Masters Vol. I"

[$5 //]

There is a concept behind Analog Masters and you can read about it on the Bandcamp page, but when I try to think of it as being like anything else I can't quite think of what to compare it with exactly.    It also makes me think a bit about when MTV had their "Unplugged" series, though this is not even the same as that, and it does make me miss that.   I feel like if you look at the past five or ten years of what was passing for rock n roll on the radio and had some of those artists on MTV's Unplugged it might have made their careers that much better.   Anyone from The Killers and Kings of Leon to Silversun Pickups and Modest Mouse would have been visuals I'd like to have seen as well as sounds I'd like to have heard.   But it isn't too late, right MTV?  Right?   Oh well, most mainstream music is dead to me any way.   If you want acoustic Foo Fighters, for example, then you'll just have to go with "Skin and Bones".   And the way music is headed with Mumford & Sons no one really needs to "unplugged" anymore as it is.

Moving on from where I seemed to get really rather sidetracked (I like to do that sometimes), the songs here are recorded during a single session and though it has something to do with a college I hope that maybe whoever put this together could get some other touring artists to contribute down the line and this could become a thing that good musicians take part in because, well, why not.   Through long dredges of drone that range from bass strings (I think a cello) to some distorted sounding rusty strings, vocals come out but more as moans than as actual words.    The strings begin scraping, moving sharply like nails on chalkboard and for some reason that sound always makes me think of rats scurrying for whatever reason.

Some melody comes through with guitar notes and the tone begins to change from one of possible horror movie (Well, horror movies if you feel the way that I do about rats) to a somber feel that brings out some peaceful strings and piano undertones as well, though they may just be made entirely with strings I'm not sure.   It is at this point in time I feel the need to tell you that you should think of me as a consumer of food and not a chef because I like to eat rather than know what goes into a meal, so in that sense you can apply the idea to music as such.   More of those moans come out and at some point I do expect him to say a word, maybe even a naughty word since I read this was live on a radio station.  (FCC can't catch me!)   After a sharp hum it turns into something you might hear before Godzilla destroys a city and then there is applause to remind you that this was indeed recorded in front of people.

Distorted guitar melodies begin the second half of the first side, as a quick glance at the Bandcamp page will show you this is split into four almost equal parts.   There are a few gongs in the distorted drone now and there are also some slight variations within the overall sound as well so I am a bit hesitant to call it drone as much as it seems foreboding, such as something bad is about to occur during an old sci-fi movie abouts aliens (think "The Phantom Planet")   Strings become plucked within the drone, which might just be a guitar but I kind of hear it as a banjo, and then the distortion seems to fade and it gets real quiet and serious, like being transported straight to the swamp with Kermit.    The once dormant sound begins to mix with another of chaos and the two combine to form something between an Alfred Hitchcock movie soundtrack and punk rock.   I'm not kidding either-- you've got to hear this one for sure.   The notes become urgent, almost fighting with each other, as the feeling intensifies.

As we seemingly grow to a big build, the music switches over to a darker guitar sense, like something out of Nirvana and, yes, I'm still waiting for it to churn out "Something In The Way" as it picks up the pace into a garage/surf type of vibe with guitar note drop tones.  I'm not sure how the guitar makes those sort of drop tones, whether it's just a matter of a simple strum or what, but I like it and am not sure how to do it with my brief years of guitar playing experience.   The vocals return and there are still not words, but it does kind of sound like he's saying "hey" and at one point like he wants to say "hallelujah".    The guitar then becomes those clanky, wandering chords that I do tend to enjoy.      We do get some lyrics before the side is all said and done and, yes, there is also some clapping to end the piece as well.

Re-reading the Bandcamp description makes me realize that this was put into four pieces and each of those was in a different place, but my notions of something taking over for what used to once be MTV's "Unplugged" still stand.    Side B is filled with loud distortion and strings mixed in, which may or may not be a violin.   Through some screaming comes some sharpness and then guitar notes melt into chords.    The singing coupled with the guitar reminds me a bit of Two Gallants (who I haven't actually listened to in a few albums) and then it is blissy/trippy before he drops an f-bomb.   Now, see, I thought it was all on the radio still, so that's why I got a little confused by him dropping the f-bomb but since I actually learned how to read things on Bandcamp it makes a bit more sense.

The final piece begins with Jimi Hendrix sort of "Star Spangled Banner" type guitars, more vocal sounds and through the singing this time around I am actually reminded of something closer to Blind Melon or in a classic rock sense (I want to think of the slower sounds of Lynyrd Skynyrd, but then I also think of Creedence and some others, so it really just depends upon your classic rock influence I suppose)   Through the end of the first piece on Side B and the second piece there is a part where BBJR. sings about not belonging to this world and just the overall idea of not having a home   I'm not sure if anyone else knows this, but that's one of those defining qualities of a gypsy so I was quite happy to hear the lines: "This world is not my own / I'm just passin' through" because it's not just about playing live music but also just not truly feeling at home anywhere, something I can certainly relate to more often than not.

If Raised by Gypsies was one of those big publications that felt the need to hand out awards every year (And I still think awards are stupid because music isn't nor should it be a competition) then we would certainly have a sort of Hall of Fame one day and I can't help but think that Bob Bucko Jr. would be the first person in it not just for his musical talent but also for seemingly sharing the same ideas as us and, in a lot of ways, writing our theme song (And, no, we don't have a theme song either, but you get the point)  If ever there was an artist to say represents the mentality of Raised by Gypsies and could represent us in the Music Olympics (Because why not, if we're going to compete why not do it in the biggest possible way) it would have to undoubtedly be Bob Bucko Jr.

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