More than three chords, but plenty raw.

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Old Time Relijun: Catharsis In Crisis

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A great live show does not always a great studio album make, though. I’ve been disappointed by more than my share of CDs purchased after an electrifying live performance. For some reason, producers and musicians have a real penchant for producing, polishing and tweaking the life right out of the music.

Happily, such is not the case with Catharsis In Crisis. Granted, I don’t have the live concert experience to compare it with, but the music on this disk is plenty live and raw. The corners have not been knocked off. And even though the music is multi-layered and satisfyingly complex, there is an artful artlessness to it. The basic, at times almost crude, instrumentation and over the top passionate vocals seem calculated to push the limits—and to push the listener’s buttons. What they don’t do is fade into the background. If you are listening, you are listening actively.

For comparison’s sake, YouTube comes through once again. Here’s a bit of a live performance at Bear’s Place in Bloomington, Indiana. It shows me that their live performances are a little more raw and low-fi than the album. It also shows me that I need to be getting out for more live music.

Matt compared their sound a bit to the Talking Heads—and to jam bands. I can see that. But I can also see other influences. The saxophone music in particular seems to borrow heavily from Middle Eastern music. In fact, the opening track on this album, Indestructible Life!, conjures up a Muslim call to prayer issuing forth from some minaret, both in the vocals and the sax. And occasional reverbed guitar riffs and saxophone passages sound like nothing so much as bits of incidental music in TV shows that indicate that the main character has suddenly traveled to some exotic locale.

The 14 tracks of Catharsis In Crisis take up less than 40 minutes. But you’re just getting started. Some CDs add on a bonus track or two. This disk contains an absurdly generous 26 additional tracks, more than two hours of bits and pieces of music, including several extended jams. The idea, I think, is to give you a glimpse into the process of making music. It does this beautifully. The “bonusy-stuff” as it’s called on the disk also includes a music video, a beautifully disturbing, graphic novelesque piece.

For me, Catharsis In Crisis shows me that rock still has a lot of interesting places to go. And that the next time Old Time Relijun comes to town, I need to be there.

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One Response to “More than three chords, but plenty raw.”

  1. Straddling seasons: Pot roast and fresh asparagus — Blue Kitchen Says:

    […] More than three chords, but plenty raw. Old Time Relijun rocks out, with complexity, at What’s on the kitchen boombox? […]

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