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Accelera Deck. Pop Polling. CD

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Accelera Deck is the recording guise of one Chris Jeely. Since 1997 Jeely has produced 7 full-length albums, and over two handfuls of limited editions 12”, 7” and CDR singles. Pop Polling is his 8th full-length and is a bit of a departure from recent Adeck efforts. All sounds are still created by guitar, but instead of the ear splitting digital workouts found on his “Sunstrings ep” (Scarcelight, 2004), we are treated a collection of songs (yes songs!, like verse/chorus/verse…) highlighting Jeely’s penchant for melody. There is a sublime simplicity that underpins most of “Pop Polling”, and only on occasion does it veer into noisier territory. Mostly we are witness to some delicate feedback and unfolding guitar melodies accompanied by various forms of drones.

+ stutter and flutter guitar melodies

01. Pop Polling
02. Ferric
03. Come Alive
04. Ski
05. Passerine
06. Lips
07. Sunskull
08. Isn't
09. Piezo
10. As Always

|: cover by Cataract Press

Reviews

While Pop Polling is, formally speaking, Chris Jeely's full-length follow-up to 2003's Ipsissima Vox, the experimental guitarist has hardly been dormant, having released in the interim 2004's EP Sunstrings and the 3-inch Ski, as well as the Summerland and Cavalo Blues 3-inch discs under his Your Favorite Horse alias. While all are memorable for one reason or another, Pop Polling impresses even more by distinguishing itself as a fully-integrated statement that unfolds with carefully considered deliberation. Even better, the 53-minute album is all new material, with the exception of “Ski,” returning here in a truncated four-minute form. As before, Jeely coaxes a galaxy of sound from his guitar, though this time out generally eschews crushing caterwauls of noise like those in Sunstrings' seventeen-minute noisefest “Dross.” Throughout Pop Polling, spidery sparklings, bucolic flutter, and swirling stutters appear, couched in dense drone and hazy ambient settings—all presumably generated using computer and guitar.
The album delineates a trajectory that begins with the gorgeous melancholy of “Pop Polling,” all delicate, spindly filigrees of keening splinters, progressively turns more abstract and abrasive, then gradually recovers with the more peaceful “As Always,” a nine-minute wavering drone outro. The album's scarred core, however, is the amazing twelve-minute meltdown “Lips.” Dissonant scrapings, feedback howls, and writhing squalls resound in this ruined landscape. Less epic though powerful too is “Sunskull” whose somber theme is besieged and ultimately swallowed by grinding, convulsive thrums of static and noise that eventually self-destruct.
Thematic undertows in “Ferric” and “Passerine” traffic in the kind of dramatic, muffled grandeur one associates with Tim Hecker and Fennesz (“Ferric” especially beautiful with its tactile oasis of tropical glissandi and broad bruising swirls) but Jeely leaves his unique stamp too, especially on the epic “Lips.” Much more than a mere gathering of unrelated tracks, Pop Polling impresses most of all for being a complete and unified experience.
May 2005, Textura
this review also appears in Cyclic Defrost issue #011 (may 2005).

The insert says: �thank you to those who continue to listen� because listening is the central point here. Sounds come in diverse forms from various sources. Here the source is an electric guitar processed and manipulated, and the form � by all means � is still that of a song. (If you include the song of birds or whales you�ll understand the concept better than by thinking of the Top40 Charts.) If noise can be warm, organic and encompassing then �pop polling� has that. But, as said above, the most important thing is to keep on listening. Your ears are adventures waiting to be explored. Let Accelera Deck be your guide. Accelera Deck is one of the pseudonyms of Chris Jeely who somehow starts to complete a circle that has begun with him playing in a band that was inspired by My Bloody Valentine and from there started a career in electronic noise experimentalism that led him to artists as diverse as EBSK, Birchville Cat Motel, Merzbow and Chuck Bettis as well starting the scarcelight record label and the floodlight distribution for likewise records. �Pop polling� is following high on the heels of the gigantic and as gigantically constructed �sunstrings EP� (which was not an EP by all means, but read for yourself). The mid-part of the �sunstrings EP�, which was squeezed between to enormous blocks of white noise squall, might have been giving it away. On �pop polling� Jeely focuses on softer and more delicate sounds. They are still noisy and distorted, but the construction is gentle and almost intimate. And that is the return to his beginnings, sort of. Some tracks flitter and glimmer like dust in the sunlight, e.g. �Passerine�. Others squiggle and twist like little fish. Others foray deftly into the area of noise, like the aptly named �Sunskull� (I really was thinking of Sunno))) mixed with Merzbow when I frist heard it) Some do all of this at the same time. Then there is the epic �lips� at over twelve minutes, the longest track on the record, starting with a mass of feedback drone and drenching itself and the listener in overwhelming amp- and guitar noise, and staying that way. This track could be regarded as earsplitting noise, but in its clarity and straightforwardness, it being among those tracks were the guitar is easily identified, it is still far from what you might have heard before from Accelera Deck. Moreover it still has that human quality that is stretching over the whole length of the record, which might come from the fluidity and almost liquid composure of the music. The same is true for the equally harsh �sunskulls�. The diversity and construction of the tracklist is another hint at the idea that Jeely wanted to make a pop-record here. Using the guitar as the only source of sound is another one (guitar > basic pop music instrument there is, that�s obvious isn�t it?). Most of the tracks remain in the interesting structure of multi-layered, processed guitar sounds, that perambulate between glitches and scratching of strings, though. �Lips� and �sunskulls� form one side if the aural spectrum laid down here. The other is the intricate and silent �Piezo�, which seems to crawl into itself with time. Within all that variety, the best thing about it is still how melodies � yes, real melodies � start to peel themselves from the sounds as if by magic. Is it drone? Is it ambient? Who cares, if you are all about filing music into genres, you might be wrong here anyhow. Me, I regularly have to crawl through stacks of unsorted CDs � metal leaning next to songwriters, experimental avant-garde freeform noise lying on top of New-Wave-compilations � but I am sure that this is one point that has held my ears open for anything that is out there to come. Often enough I wish I was able to dive into sound as deeply as Chris Jeely does on here, really exploring a certain sound into its depth, finding its hidden frequencies and slowly twisting and turning it into something else. But time constraints have a heavy grip on me (that�s also why some of these reviews around here are so late, uhm �) and then there is so much new stuff to be discovered. Some people are afraid of that, those are wrong here also. Aural adventerousness is not for everyone, or actually only for a small minority of people. If you belong to those, you are welcome.
Cracked

Chris Jeely, who most frequently records under the moniker Accelera Deck, has been one of the more interesting, if often frustrating artists of the last decade. Any time that I think I can predict where he’s heading—most noticeably when he wholly departed the Loveless-meets-drum-and-bass approach of his early work—a veering turn dashes my estimations. In addition to those often blissful meetings of skittering drum beats and glistening guitar waves (best illustrated on Accelera Deck’s Narcotic Beats and Exhalera Deck’s Exhale EP), Jeely has ventured into hair-raising white noise, gentle acoustic singer-songwriter fare, near-ambient glitch electronica, and walloping drum and bass. It’s hard to fault an artist for pursuing so many directions, but similarly, this stylistic vacillation eliminates a foundational point of view with which to approach his work. The first half of the title Pop Polling might sound like a joke to anyone who sat through the blistering Sunstrings EP, which took the maximalist approach to its sonic limits. Yet in even their most subtle or overwhelming moments, Jeely has imbued these tracks with a layered approach to melody that recalls the strength of his finest work. Unless you’re counting rhythmic blips of guitar, there is no rhythm accompaniment to be found, but it’s hardly missed; these songs, and I emphasize songs, seem complete without it. The title track is Accelera Deck’s most “pop” moment in ages, both in the direct melodies of its arpeggios and DSP-authored blips and in its familiar structure (a three-minute runtime, seeming verse and chorus delineations). “Ferric” spreads this template out, adding a lingering underbelly of distortion for the second half of the song. “Come Alive” is almost playful, as synthesized guitar lines dart around the primary core of the song like water bugs. “Ski,” a pre-album single in a different version, echoes the tension of “Ferric” without that cathartic hum of distortion to alleviate it. “Passerine” begins with a near lullaby of an arpeggio before changing over to slightly weighty chords and finally to shoegazer-inspired guitar drones. The first half of the record—in song count, if not in total time—is remarkably neat. The twelve minutes of “Lips” are not, however, fraying out with feedback-laden guitar strangulations, which dissolve the pop structures and progressions of its predecessors. “Sunskull” builds up to brain-smearing fractures of white noise, but the unaffected guitar line that surfaces out of this cataclysm soothes much of the damage. “Isn’t,” a swirling miasma of glowing chords, repairs the rest, differentiating itself from its predecessors by blurring together those pinpricked notes, eliminating the DSP-affected stuttering of “Ferric.” “Piezo” is a slow crescendo of melodies buried in soft fuzz, stuttering guitar lines aching to reach out of their perpetual cusp, which finally resolves with one strum of an unaffected chord. “As Always” spreads its fourteen minutes out gently, with the first eight comprised of a series of progressing drones before the glitches come in and reveal its darkly lit underbelly. The core of Pop Polling is a juxtaposition between its seemingly straightforward moments of verses and choruses, melody and counter-melody, tension and resolve, and the chaos of the white noise, the feedback, the tiny failures encased in the subtle glitches gone wrong. The fifteen minutes between the start of “Lips” and the changeover in “Sunskull,” nearly a third of the record, are at odds with the graceful, logical array of notes, melodies, and structures found elsewhere, but they do not seem wholly disparate from those elements. This conflict won’t necessarily get me to spend as much time with “Lips” as with “Ferric,” but as an acknowledgement of Jeely’s past and as a counterpoint to the bliss of the rest of the record, I see the value in its presence. This makes Pop Polling an intriguing paradox of an album. Its internal logic is intact, if that entails presenting both the pop-influenced structures and sonics of blissful drones and DSP-affected guitars and the inverse of this, a chaotic assault of solo guitar work expressed in strangled notes and churning white noise. The Pop segment of the title veers into a slight misnomer given the less approachable “Lips” and “Sunskull,” but if the title’s true sentiment lies in an experiment of finding out the possible pop facets of his aesthetic, Jeely has covered all of his bases.
New Artillery

this is guitar ambient isn’t it? it’s beautiful, it’s enthralling, it’s minimal, it’s echoed and tremoloed, it can be as calm and powerful as the Arctic Sea in summer and it peacefully flows its Aurora Borealis’s colors before your very eyes and amazed they are.
Burning Emptiness

This is only my second exposure to Accelera Deck's work, but surprisingly enough this is the project's eighth full-length effort, totaling barely under an hour of ambience created through electronically manipulated guitar melodies. Some tracks are more fluid than others, with certain compositions sounding more abstract and experimental in their masking of the guitar as a source instrument. There's probably more of the latter approach in tow on this outing, but that suits me just fine. "Come Alive" uses some glitchy effects and spacy ethereal textures for a little more movement and activity than some of the other pieces (though that doesn't make it a stronger selection), which is similar to the more lushly chilled out "Isn't" much later on, while "Ski" is a condensed four-minute take on the track that made up the 3" CD-R of the same name awhile back in 13-minute form. Among the significantly longer tracks is "Lips", which tops 12 minutes and uses distant strings plucked at the base to create a piano-like effect that works well over lightly distorted drones and feedback that are a little more aggressive than most of this material, without taking it too far ("Sunskull" is the noisiest track without question, louder and a bit more abrasive straight off the bat); as well as "As Always", which runs more than 14 minutes and is one of the softer and more restrained ambient selections. This one's smoother and decidedly more sinister than its companions herein, and makes for one of the true standouts for sure. Also among my favorites are the sparse subtleties of the wispy "Piezo", which is basically a slow build from start to finish as things increase in volume and end with one fluid chord, and "Pop Polling", which is structured more like an actual song and makes the most unflinching use of melody for a rather moving opener for the CD. I'd love to hear more work along those specific lines to balance out the less structured elements of this set of songs. The sound quality is of course very nice, with a great sense of clarity as well as resonant depth to all of the sounds, but I have to confess that I find the artwork to be, well… pretty ugly. In fact, the unattractive nature of the cover art actually made me put off listening to this because I was afraid I wouldn't like it, so… since I'm actually pretty into the music herein I'd definitely suggest stronger color schemes and a more fitting aesthetic for this project's future work, as the visual accompaniment was among my only complaints with his last release as well. The total running time's on the long side here, but what makes for a consistent listen glides through that obstacle without much of a problem. This guy's obviously very talented at making a guitar more than just a guitar, and doing so by rarely using the instrument in its traditional sense. Quite an enjoyable disc, if I do say so myself.
Aversionline

The name Accelera Deck is around for many years now, and I must say I have been a keen follower of Chris Jeely, mainly because he knows how to put on truly diverse music: sometimes techno inspired, sometimes drone related guitar stuff and even some singer-songwriter like stuff. On 'Pop Polling', his eight full length album, on his own Scarcelight label he moves into a genre that hasn't been explored by him before (or maybe without me being aware of it): that of glitch music. Since Jeely has always been a guitarist and that computer treatments are part of glitch music, it's of course easy to compare this with Christian Fennesz, but it doesn't justify the many talents of Chris Jeely. In the ten tracks captured on this CD, he cleverly balances on the edges of computerized sounds and guitar playing. In 'Lips' he derails with a lengthy guitar improvisation, but in general he knows how to keep a good balance between the two. The small melodies are glitchy and richly layered and reaches the glorious ambient spot in the closing 'As Always'. With the diversity of his output it's hard to say that this is his best, but it is nevertheless a great addition to an already varied output.
(FdW) Vital Weekly 470

I’ve been diligently keeping up with the music of prolific Alabama native Chris Jeely for the last eight years. Through an endless stream of singles, EPs, CDRs and proper full-lengths under the Accelera Deck name, Jeely has staked a claim as one of America’s most underrated electronic musicians. If you listened to his discography in order, a strange trajectory emerges. Jeely’s 1997 debut album, Narcotic Beats, fused My Bloody Valentine-style guitars with jungle and drum-and-bass and rhythms (a juxtaposition that MBV’s Kevin Shields admittedly wanted to pursue, but never did). His next three albums, though, stripped away the guitars, focusing instead on grinding beats that brought to mind a more accessible version of Autechre. After a brief, ill-advised detour into vocal-based folk (on 2001’s Shadow Land), Jeely seems to have returned to the wall of guitars that characterized his debut…but this time, he has stripped away the beats.
On Jeely’s latest album Pop Polling, he runs his guitar through an array of DSP effects, and constructs an ambient sound that often recalls the Austrian composer Fennesz (particularly his masterpiece Endless Summer). “Ferric” begins with layers of rapidly skipping single notes, underneath which a haze of attack-less guitars slowly shift from one chord to the next. Swooping, laser-gun noises ricochet from speaker to speaker, subtly foreshadowing the crescendo to come. At around the halfway mark, a wave of distorted guitars a la Lovesliescrushing enters the mix and holds the song hostage, producing an effect that is both beautiful and frightening. The next track, “Come Alive,” sounds like an imaginary collaboration between Boards of Canada and Wolf Eyes. The guitars are run through a woozy vibrato, and are nearly overtaken by the flatulent noises of tape decay. “Isn’t” is probably the most serene song on the album, consistently entirely of attack-less guitars that sound like the droning of an orchestra.
Unfortunately, “Isn’t” is sequenced so that it serves as a palate cleanser after Pop Polling’s two most abrasive tracks: “Lips” and “Sunskull.” “Lips” is a 12-minute noise improvisation in which Jeely ekes out piercing feedback and irritating scrapes from him guitar, with no discernible DSP used to manipulate them or make them more palatable. Frankly, it sounds like a bored teenager in the garage trying out his new distortion pedal. “Sunskull” is shorter and has more structure, but it lays the digital distortion on so thick that you’ll think someone slipped Merzbow in the CD player when you weren’t looking. These two songs seriously disrupt the flow of the record, as the songs that come before and after it are infinitely easier to digest. “Lips” and “Sunskull” make listening to Pop Polling feel like eating a delicious sandwich, only to bite into a nail that the sadistic Subway clerk buried in the middle.
That sequencing flaw aside, Pop Polling is a fine piece of work from a composer who has gone unnoticed even in the underground for far too long. With his label Scarcelight branching out and releasing music by like-minded artists around the world, here’s hoping that Jeely’s name starts getting around a bit quicker.
Sean Padilla, Mundane Sounds

‘Pop polling’ is my first musical meeting with Accelera Deck, although this is already Chris Jeely’s eighth release. According to the press information, this record is different from his former releases, because on ‘pop polling’ there is more melody involved, which is probably absent in his former works. Those efforts were more ‘ear-splitting’, especially on the ‘Sunstrings ep’, so says the additional information. The music presented here is nicely chilling and reminds me of a lot of things. First of all, there are clear pop-influences on this album. The tracks are songs; calm post-rockish songs with beautiful melody lines created by harmonic guitar sounds. The soft guitar plucking reminds me of Dirty three and Mick Harris solo-albums. Melancholic, sometimes raw and a little bit sad, but overall very mellow and pleasant. These are not just regular instrumental guitar songs though. The pretty melodies are distorted by rumbling, stuttering electronic sounds. This experimental approach is alike some acts of the American label Apestaartje, such as Anderegg. Jeely gives you a song, but makes sure the listener has enough room for his own interpretation. He does this by fracturing the blooming clear structures, by exposing the ‘conventional’ guitar sound to decay. All this is delicately served on a nice bed of droning sounds, with splintered feedback, scratchings and scrapings in a way that makes you shiver pleasantly. If you can’t stand abstractness and grandiose experimentalism, you should leave this record at your local mail-order. If you are an open-minded lover of the avant-garde, you will cherish this release as a little gem.
Funprox

With their last EP, Sunstrings, Accelera Deck had proved my 5+ years of assumption to be completely wrong. I actually do like them! And their music isn’t watery, boring house (I’m not exactly sure how I came by that assumption). In any case, it’s only been a couple months since that EP eased its way out of my itunes playlist, and here comes another. This time around strains of psychedelia permeate nearly all the tracks, transplanting the usual image of someone hunched, bloodshot over a laptop with someone sprawled on the floor, nodding off, bloodshot, buried in effects, guitars and an imac. While the electronics still buzz and scrape, the vibe is much more serene and glass-eyed this time around. The first track, “Pop Polling” is absolutely gorgeous thanks to the great interplay of electronic atmospherics and distorted guitar smudge. The 12+ minute “Lips” provides jarring counterpoint with scrapes, moans and unsettling, atonal drone clusters. And the 14+ minute epic “As Always” closes the album with intently focused navel-gazing drone-drift. Hopefully you haven’t been missing out on Accelera Deck like I had been. If so, this record is a great time to start. Foxy Digitalis - Dick Baldwin

Depuis 1997 Chris Jeely aka Accelera Deck est présent dans la scène electronica/laptop, enregistrant des morceaux et des disques pour des structures telles que Neo Ouija, Jonathon Whiskey, 555, Pitchcadet, Morr Music, et bien d’autres, ou encore pour son propre label Scarcelight. Pop Rolling, le 7-8-9ème ( ?) album de ce vétéran débute en un univers cohérent et ambiant plutôt mélodique avant de prendre le chemin du bruit, des drones et des larsens de guitares.
Pop Polling est un disque qui commence donc avec de belles compositions mélancoliques étirées entre post-rock et electronica caractérisées par une belle production bien léchée (grain travaillé, textures, éthérées, notes découpées et spatialisées...). Morceaux de mélodies sont déroulées sur des structures comme mises en arrêt images, ralenties, accélérées, en retour rapide, en avance rapide... Dans cet univers fortement évocateur, des bruits sourds, comme des larsens de guitares à traitement multiple, viennent parfois assombrir le tableau, tout en restant discrets, prenant peu à peu le contrôle du titre et volant toute l’attention (Ferric). Ski part d’une approche plus folk, où la guitare est volontairement mise en avant. Dans cette optique, la musique d’Accelera Deck ne dépareillerait pas dans le catalogue du label Intr_Version. Sur Passerine, Jeely corse le filtre digital, évoquant Tim Hecker mais dans un esprit plus zen et moins sombre, ou Fennesz avec cette tendance nette à l’ouverture pop.
Ce sont les douze minutes abrasives de Lips, plus violentes et moins structurées, qui désorientent Pop Polling. Après ce virage, Accelera Deck ne reviendra pas tout de suite sur des territoires plus mélodiques (bruitiste Sunskull). Il faut attendre Isn’t pour cela : la répétition de cette composition symphonique surprend et évoque Reich. Le disque s’éteint sur As Always, épopée de quatorze minutes d’abord ambiante rappelant Eno. En son milieu apparaît un premier larsen de guitare, qui ne disparaîtra que remplacé par un souffle bruité. Bref, à l’instar de ce dernier titre, ce disque en impose.
Autres Directions

Accelera Deck is a guy called Chris Jeely and Pop Polling is his eighth full length release. It consists of ten tracks between 2¹30 and 14¹16 in length. Electric guitar is the primary sound source material here and is subjected to varying amounts of digital processing. Most of the tracks are tonal and melodic with an essentially droneular quality. Ferric features gradually unfurling loops and tiny accelerating guitar tones, which opens out into noisier territory. Lips and Sunskull are more noise/improvisation based, the former seemingly consists of multi-tracked improvisation and the latter has an abrasive quality with a curiously Red Hot Chilli Pepperesque ending. Other subcategories I¹m going to arbitarily impose are the slowly shifting, timbrally complex drone for Isn¹t and As Always, and the more organ-like Come Alive and Passerine. Quite a bit of this CD reminded me of Christian Fennesz¹s stuff and overall it made a pleasant soundtrack for a monday evening cycle around Pankow.
Phosophor Magazine, Germany