This could be, in its own way, an extraordinarily ambitious project. L.A.‚Äôs Jesse Rakusin masterminds the enigmatic Awaken! moniker. It was relatively hard even to find this out, and in general Rakusin seems dedicated to pursuing an outsider status (although, perhaps appropriately, the album is available for download on iTunes).
I use the term ‚Äúoutsider‚ÄĚ because this release has many marks of classic outsider music. The 4-track production is rough, mixing and timing are almost nonexistent, and yet there is clearly an internal logic ‚Äď cohesive motive to all the songs, the artwork, and the whole concept of Awaken!.
Opener ‚ÄúHoly Sight‚ÄĚ sets the tone with Sinatra-style crooning, with barely audible backing tracks, rocked-out guitar soloing, and some unauthorized drum noodling. There are heady proclamations on ‚ÄúSource‚ÄĚ about ‚Äúdreaming you are awake‚ÄĚ and that ‚ÄúThe mind is the unseen / all within this dream‚ÄĚ ‚Äď the theme of being awake while dreaming is a consistent one by this point.
But there is also an unmistakable level of potent, undirected ecstasy. Occasionally Rakusin raggedly reaches for the ‚Äúrock ‚Äėn‚Äô roll poetry‚ÄĚ territory of Patti Smith, capturing some of that exalting energy. Haunting yet sampleable organ and vocal wailing drive ‚ÄúDream Child,‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúConnect!‚ÄĚ is almost no-wave in its bouncy drums, meandering guitar leads, and improvised-sounding mumblings about love.
Is it ironic or sincere? The question may or may not be unnecessary. Rakusin himself tags ‚Äúgospel‚ÄĚ on the Awaken! BandCamp page, offering no insight. Overall, although this is obviously not for everyone, it should rightly fascinate a certain subset of musical fellow travelers.