There’s a video on YouTube of John Cage performing Water Walk on the popular 1960’s TV show “I’ve Got a Secret.” The video starts with Cage whispering into the hosts’ ear telling him all the ways he is going to be making sound. He starts listing off items such as a rubber duck and ice cubes as the audience grows increasingly perplexed. Fast forward a couple of decades and we see Chris Andersen utilizing the same sort of aesthetic – keyboards, knives, window fan, coffee grinder, and e-bow are only a couple of the unique found sounds that Chris Andersen uses on his latest batch of songs entitled Sick Day. Although there are plenty of odd found sounds, guitar is the still the most utilized instrument on the album. That being said it is hardly played in a conventional manner. Chris Andersen’s music lies somewhere between John Cage, Scott Walker (not the teen idol era – the other one) and David Lynch. Some will consider this music unlistenable while fans of the previously mentioned artists should find some enjoyment while listening to this album.
The first track is called “Hotter Heads Will Prevail” which starts off with what sounds like frantic noodling. This eventually gives way to a rather conventional melody that is picked on electric guitar. Andersen choses to talk in a rather ominous voice over the melody that reminded of a villain you would hear on a BBC fictional series about medieval times. “Build” is built on his voice and a number of overdubs. Scott Walker would be proud as the vocals are anything but harmonious and beautiful but instead create dissonance and confusion. It’s hardly something you will want to spin at a festive outing and will probably be best listened to by yourself while you are examining a Rubik’s cube. Screeching guitars and feedback are the main components on “Sick Day.” It kind of sounds like what you could imagine Eddie Van Halen would play if you made him do a couple grams of coke, then waited a couple of hours for him to come down and stuck him in white room with a small amp and a Fender Stratocaster. “Breathe in Poison” sounded like I was getting surrounded by rattlesnakes on the 7th level of hell (a song that may inappropriate to spin at your mother’s house). The album closes with “Meditation” which utilizes the most found sounds. It’s full of clicks, clangs, bangs and all sorts of other found sounds that should make Andersen think about making a career as a Foley artist. Alongside the seemingly random percussion elements you hear a distant guitar in the mix.
This collection of songs is about as avant-garde as you can get without getting offended. It has moments that peaked my interest but nothing that I will probably be revisiting anytime soon. I hope Andersen sticks with it and only gets better because not many people are willing to venture into this type of musical territory.
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