Skulllike. Eggs On Equators. CD

01. Eyes
02. As / So
03. Wide Awake
04. Death Rides A Rainbow
05. Monarch
06. Eggs On Equators

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If someone told me that Chris Jeely, mastermind behind noise/avant/impro-label Scarcelight (Violet, Merzbow, Birchville Cat Motel, a.m.o.) and the great Accelera Deck, has a secret liking for jingly-jangly lo-fi-pop, I wouldn't have believed it. And I would have had my serious doubts for Jeely to be able to pull it off with style, grace and fortitude into something cool and likeable. But he does and 'eggs on equators' is a great mixture of Sebadoh and Spacemen 3, if you like, a big surprise and a good one, too. This record is like a trip into history for me and maybe ' my guess ' for Chris Jeely as well. And it puts proof to my theory that nobody wants to listen to all out experimental noise improvisations all the time. That's why I have my fair share of Americana both old and new and a good deal of punk and indierock next to all the electronica and avant-garde stuff. A necessity in more than one way. I am also quite boldly open about it and in those regularly reanimated discussions about 'secret favourite song' or 'most embarrassing song I like' I have always said that I am not at all embarrassed about anything I listen to, even if it is Herb Albert and the Tijuana Brass (and as it goes, for a short moment in time I was supercool that way). Of course listening habits change with time and if you ain't completely nailed to a certain style or as ignorant as a doorpost or not interested in music at all, you'll find yourself checking out various kinds of music over time. And at times those likes you had some years ago come back to you surprisingly. Like the current interest around here in heavy experimental free impro noise drones by Earth and the like. Made me search out my old seven inches by Earth to check how much they had to change to get all hyped up. Well, not that much. For other people it might be that they used to like to play real songs on their guitar with melody, choruses and everything. Not forgetting their liking for sensible lo-fi-popmusic with all kinds of distorted guitar and noise between the sweet melodies. Lou Barlow had about a hundred different bands and projects at the same time for a few years back then around '95. I guess, Chris Jeely would know what I am talking about. Getting back to 'eggs on equators' it is a surprisingly traditional and formalized record, in relation to Jeely's other musical outpours like Accelera Deck[1]. But already the start is intriguing. Without much ado, a bassline, bass and guitar setting in and the singer starting, we are right in the middle of a cranked up emo-pop song about the eyes of a lover or a goddess or something. I ain't sure if lyrics like 'with a twisting twist you stand me up so high, with a kissing kiss you make me realize, in the sunburst through your winter eyes, and it's all dumb summer when I'm yawning blind' are meant as a praise or as a threat (or both, as most prayers are). Nothing to hear of the guitar-noise or heavy sludge drones that might be expected from the label or the cover. No, real songs fade in and out of focus, stand clear in the headlight and return again into the woods. The melodies are drawn out and sound sweet and sensitive even when only consisting of a few notes repeated over and over again ('wide awake'). The use of effects is simplicistic but effective, like using distortion or overdrive on the vocals or a fuzzy echo on the guitars. The basic pattern of bass/drum/guitar and vocals remains throughout, wether the song dwells on a spaced out slowness ('wide awake') or peruses the heavy pounding straight bass line drenched in fuzz and noise (listening to 'death rides a rainbow' you should remember Jesus And the Mary Chain, and if you don't, go and get some of their records out) or gets close to harmonies known from those Sixties Psychedelic bands ('Monarch'). Plus, I don't remember any Folk Implosion albums to reach lengths of over 35 minutes (though there were EPs well over 25 minutes as well). Jeely's mind for far out there guitar sounds isn't lost completely, of course. Quite contrary, his knack for coming up with fitting sounds makes this album steer clear of the aimless ambling that a lot of lo-fi-guitarpop records had back then. It is not only that some great noise is creeping back in here and there, e.g. at the end of 'Death rides a rainbow' drifting straight into the multilayered noise that will become 'monarch'. The sounds used as guitars throughout the whole record are skilfully adapted to the songs and so there is a lot to hear all around. How many times did some of those bands I mentioned above scare you out of a song by crashing a brutally distorted guitar into a soft ballad without the sounds even fitting? Maybe the intense and detailed preoccupation with smallest and tiniest parts of sounds as well as with their epic proportions has enabled Jeely to select with feeling and knowledge. Together with bassist Mike Karadimos, who delivers a steady job with some little sparks of noise during the title track (I guess it must be the bass since the guitar is still there all the time), a superficial glance at the record might dismiss their effort as 'decent'. But it is within the small things that the great things are happening and that is where 'eggs on equators' really stands up for itself. Maybe I am all wrong and all that happened was that Jeely was being accused of not being able to properly play guitar or write a song and with this he wanted to prove differently. I might check the reviews about his record once again. On the other hand, rehearsing drummers and planning to go on tour would be a little much just to prove a point, so I'll stick to my judgement of inner need being the spark to record these songs. I just wonder how purists of what has been done on Scarcelight records (not that you could find any written down mission statement of what is and what isn't possible on the label) will react to this collection of songs. As it is said, there is nothing as conservative as a music fan. Most reactions will be along the way of 'a new side' or 'what's he doing now? Hope he'll be back to his old style soon', but to me such a suggestion is way out of what a music reviewer should be demanding. It is all up to the artist, and if artist and label-owner are the same person, good for them. Ironically, some of them who'll openly scorn on this album for being what it is, will secretly put it on over and over again to soothe their ears from listening to noise all day long, I am sure.