John DeMarco is a multi-media artist, currently residing in Northern California, coming out of the experimental underground of Philadelphia in the early '80s. He is a prolific painter, as well as a multi-instrumentalist. His paintings are colorful mandalas of geometric and organic shapes, with colorful explosions bursting forth from the underlying patterns. He speaks of "a state of emerging balance between geometric and organic structures, with organic forms having an embodied sense of luminous, harmonic order." and then goes on to say, "What I seek to express in paint is about structural as well as spiritual origins. In fact, I am attempting to provide the viewer with some kind of visual evidence that they are in fact one and the same, that structural origin intimately mirrors the genius of Spirit."
DeMarco explores this intersection of pattern and chaos, of organic and man-made, on this lulling and hypnotic collection of sketches for electric guitar, marimbas, and percussion, and a smorgasbord of other sounds and textures entitled Structures and Dreams. Structures and Dreams came about due to frustration, after DeMarco's last recording project fell apart in 2008. He decided to focus on home recording, to try and explore his many disparate listening tastes. He's now begun to compile, edit and mix that material, releasing a barrage of interesting instrumental music. Structures and Dreams focuses on the more compositionally challenging of that material.
The press release names Frank Zappa and Steve Reich as influences, so you're bound to find complex arrangements, odd time signatures, and strange melodies, with a heavy emphasis on repetition and shifting patterns. I would say DeMarco lives up to his heroes, here, which is no small compliment, as they are giants in their field, highly singular and unique.
The name Structures And Dreams is apt, as the material that comprises its bulk is more locations than "songs,” Snakes and Ladders Candylands to wander around in and explore, as guitars and marimbas are tethered to the underlying structure of rhythm and harmony, to create dense ecosystems, like lichen and fungi on the forest floor. You are not likely to walk around humming these tunes (unless you're a whippoorwill and if you do, people may find you mad)), but they're great fun to lose yourself in and explore.
All in all, Structures And Dreams is somewhere between a children's mystery and a King Crimson record. Like his paintings, DeMarco's compositions burst forth from the speakers, in colorful explosions, like wildflowers, with the rhythmic grid acting as a trellis from which these tasty snow peas emerge. He also reveals himself to be a talented instrumentalist and composer. When theory meets ability THAT is a winning combination.
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