Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Life Trajectory of a Pendulum: stanleylucasrevolution's Evolutionary Sunset Call

It begins with some feedback and vocal samples and loops intermingled with a rollicking Old West beat like some psychotic, schizophonic Ennio Morricone. The track is called Wasteful Youth and it builds the faithless foundation for the rest of the LP. This fantastically experimental, existential album is the sophomore effort from yet another musical project shrouded in mystery: stanleylucasrevolution (SLR) from California. Released on Stroboscopic, the record is titled Evolutionary Sunset Call (which keeps reminding me linguistically of Sister Feelings Call) and these songs are ostensibly created by a terminally ill, fictional character called Stanley Lucas. Both the enigmatic set-up and the dark material refract from the heart of this album to create a 21st century world completely bent out of shape, but in doing so, it finds redemption and safety in the darkness. Mixing fuzzed out beats, glam rock, warped psychedelia, country-blues, and electronic effects, Evolutionary Sunset Call is like a pendulum, heavy with self-doubt and fear, being driven by inevitable laws of perpetual motion and futilely knocking its battered essence against other identical pendulums, all the while hypnotizing you with its incessant tell-tale heart.

After the opening track, the first song with proper lyrics included in the liner notes, Brand New Way, swaggers in with a bit of old-time glam fashion and brash piano. As the narrator sings "I'll find a way to a brand new way," you get the feeling that it's a lot like what an alcoholic person would tell him/herself when he/she is drunk. The following song, We Still Love Them, is the song most explicitly about the state of today's world: "a new suit, desk, shave and a handshake/you give your money to the company/we stand divided and the nation's hollow/everyone knows that dying's free." To accompany the articulation of the barrel rolls of emotion, blues bass and electric organ push the pendulum back and forth in its suspended rut. The first of many musical interludes, Le Batteur is a propulsive font to refresh you for further grit and disturbed mental states that come with New Stone 40. When the narrator sings "won't you change my life?," there's a fantastic slide into a minor tone that connotes a resigned desperation, and the chorus swings along as the voice reminds you of both Ziggy Stardust and Bon Jovi's cowboy wanted dead or alive. Consultation Valley Ruse begins with fantastic electronic beats and the vocals take on a rich deepness over a disco falsetto backing, which end up sounding more eerie than funky. Conversely, interlude (Intro in C) sneaks in sideways with squeaks and hesitant rhythms before giving way to Insatiable and its tanoy-inflected vocals addressing a female character with further expression of forward motion that goes nowhere: "maybe will you finally change your life?/and come out at night/doing all those things though they don't even amuse you."

With its tribal rhythms and swirling, spinning pinwheels of sound, I'm Trusted in the Sea (Outro) takes you over the rickety bridge to Two Ways, which repeats the vocal sample "What's the matter with you, thought you were asleep" as though someone left the TV on late at night while an old film was on and the picture is rolling through infinite static, slowly driving you mad in some wakeful nightmare. The track continues in a subdued manner that smooths the frayed nerves created by the sample. The music takes a more upbeat, vindictive tone with Sacred Sons and the strong anthemic tones break through and smother the chattering feedback for a moment of triumph and peace. The narrator declares, "I need to hold the flames, I love to see the light/the darkness comes berating the sunset turning it back to night...I want to touch the skin of everyone whose failing inside/I'd love to be the one there that comforts you in the middle of the night," becoming a messiah to the nighttime underworld. But the pendulum swings back with the quiet bluesy guitar in Mourning Star (Outro). With the coming of morning, the manic self-importance withers under the sun's glare as the narrator recognizes his reality anew, taking you into the next track called Downhearted. The wobbly, muffled vocal effects in Downhearted makes it sound like the narrator is drowning in his own sorrow and self-pity, but at the same time he's fighting with the breath he has left, leaving his own Rock 'n Roll Suicide note. The album concludes with the instrumental Happy Sun Day, which uses violin-like sounds to rouse you from the mire of the previous breakdown, only you don't know if it's to wake you or to serve as a wake.

As a whole concept, Evolutionary Sunset Call, tells the story of hiding in a darkness that you come to despise, where you wait out life changes and wish you could be brave enough to live after the sun rises. You can and should buy Evolutionary Sunset Call at Cd Baby. This one-man revolution is perfect for those who have ever regarded one of those perpetual motion toys in someone's office and felt an infinite sadness.

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