Sunday, January 15, 2017

GR's "Propel Tension on Polyester Base"

It was one of the most electrifying shows I've ever seen in my life. In 2009, the Gunslingers, a French trio that had managed to book a U.S. tour on the strength of a blazing album, No More Invention, and the advocacy of Julian Cope, came and blew the roof off the Chat Room, a tiny dive on Fort Worth's not-yet-gentrified Magnolia Street. Gregory Raimo, the Gunslingers' alpine-lidded frontman, jabbered gibberish like a demented alien, did a nice line in Sharrockian chaos-slide, and conjured a feedback apocalypse by spiking his guitar neck into his borrowed Fender amp, proving that you don't need big gear to make an unholy racket.

He didn't need the other Gunslingers, either, apparently. On his own, under the rubric GR, Raimo has produced four albums' worth of intriguing psychedelic murk, mostly overdubbing all the instruments himself, collaborating with obscuro '60s wizard Michael Yonkers on 2007's The High Speed Recording Complex. His newest, Propel Tension on Polyester Base, compiles a bunch of analog recordings done at different locations between 2008 and last year. The tracks range from droning rave-ups in the grand style to experiments in musique concrete weirdness to splendiferous space rock.

The opening "Perforation" sounds like a surf movie soundtrack composed by Ennio Morricone and played by the Exploding Plastic Inevitable-era Velvets. "Vertical Take-Off," in two parts a la the Isley Brothers, is almost Gunslingers redux but with more melodic guitar moves, which take Uncle Lou's needles-on-red "I Heard Her Call My Name" tone in a more stately and majestic direction. "Violet Piss In Snobbish Eardrums" -- great title! -- allows us to imagine Raimo fronting Kraftwerk, while the dark, fingerpicked "Ritual to the Decadent" plumbs the same emotional depths as late-period John Fahey. "Altostratus" blasts off for Hawkwind territory, ultimately depositing the listener -- along with the ghost of Mitch Mitchell circa Ladyland -- in the middle of the title track's pulsing throb. "Down the Hidden Shade" features shimmering guitars behind Raimo's cryptic pronouncements, proving that the cat's still out to lunch -- same place Sun Ra used to eat at.

You can stream or download the whole thing at the link below, but this is the kind of noise that's best heard on sweet, sweet vinyl. (Click on the "Order LP" link on this page.)


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