Jeremy Kelly “Shortwaves” tape

September 29, 2010
By Jordan Anderson

This release is composed of six well-played and well-developed pieces that slowly change from single divisions of sound with their own unique characteristics—at times quiet Eastern-sounding guitar, at others colliding cymbals and distorted notes—into separate, very different sections that are unified by underlying themes of very dark, heavy music, with Kelly’s use of instrumentation veering between psychedelic lead guitar and drumming, and heavily manipulated radio signals, recordings of vocals or noise, and synth notes.

While such an underlying structure creates a sense of wholeness unifying the album’s fragments, the changes in the music that occur between each piece are very natural and subtle, only over time revealing very different relationships between tone color and key changes, so that Kelly’s use of variation creates stark contrasts between each piece that recur over the course of the tape.  Drumming on the cassette’s first side is only heard in the distant background, for example, before slowly turning, on its second side, into a crashing primary instrument, creating diverging patterns over slowly oscillating single notes.  These give way to subdued solo, pentatonic harmonics played on a distorted, echoing electric guitar, and then into reverse guitar chords and guitar solos, before combining all of these formal elements—lead guitar, drumming, drone notes, and synth—into one jarring subsection.

This cassette is worth seeking out, especially for Jeremy Kelly’s facility in taking the listener down compelling conceptual pathways.

Sweat Lodge Guru

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