Published on Wednesday, May 21 2014
Listening to music really loud is funny. Seriously, try it. Listen to the Clear Plastic Masks’s new record loudly, however, and this funny thing begins to happen. A swirl is the only way I know how to describe it. All types of swirls: the kind the toilet bowl makes, all crisp and in tune with the moon; the swirls you experience in the grips of some substance or the more elliptical kind that comes from the funnel water ride at Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana.
I can only speculate as to why this happens, but it does. No…that’s not true, I’m being self-effacing. I know exactly why this happens. It happens because you as a listener are experiencing in a spacial, tangential way all the forces that made this record come into being, and seeing as it’s entitled “Being There” it seems apropos. This record – and this is my reading here – attempts to overcome the ego or the desire to be “original” as such. To have faces stand out amongst others. It’s maybe why the band choose to wear clear plastic masks as a monicker: it’ll obfuscate your view, but at least you know they’re human and not aliens. Thus, they whirled up like the Sufi Dervishes and went to work.
And similar, in a way, to the intention behind the Dervishes, this record opens up an emotional field rather than a discursive field. So much of what is happening in the world today is happening at the level of political discourse – people jockeying for rhetorical positions and trying to defend this or vilify that without really having any felt experiential, emotional understanding of the issues at play, political or otherwise. The reasons the record swirls is because of this. And I think as artists, this strange little peripatetic group are uniquely positioned by their experiences to offer meaningful contributions to society via art. Or at least a good time. And when Andrew Katz sings “there’s gonna be a shakedown” or “I’ve got some cocaine to get you back your strut” or the even more direct, “we come together/nothing could be better,” it’s true; it’s a lived experience. At least in that moment you hear him say it. Or when Matt Menold – one of the most blisteringly talented musicians you will ever meet, along with an incredible professorial knowledge of tunes – just rips into the guitar, it’s as if you’re hearing and watching the most disenchanted illegitimate child of Howlin’ Wolf overcome all his daddy issues in one session, Tokic playing analog therapist. Eddie Duquesne got so deep in his bass-mojo on this record, he augments perfectly what’s happening on each track, or – like on ‘Baby Come On’ - he leaves out or swings certain notes, turning an otherwise spurned lover ballad into a funky go-getter. And Charlie Garmendia sounds like Buddy Miles mixed with Clyde Stubblefield. You’ll get these little finger-flicked ghost notes on the drums that are so tasteful, only to have the next measure sound like he hit them with a troglodyte’s rock hammer. All deftly handled by the indefatigable Andrija Tokic, who is seriously just warming up on his production skills.
I know the Clear Plastic Masks well. I know the producer of this fine album, Andrija Tokic, as well, and count both as dear, close friends. I even know the lanky, incredibly talented Allen that wrote the track ‘Hungry Cup’ for the band he’s in, Poison Dartz. (Click that link because they are an inspiration and a very talented outfit.) I know that the band has moved beyond this record, as is evidenced by their live shows (of which I just saw 10 in a row up and down the east coast). There’s this new song, ‘Buffalo’ that is the swirl-entire. It made me want to throw up the first time I heard it. Anyway, the point of all this is that they’re releasing their album today and are playing at the High Watt and 10pm here in Nashville with Fly Golden Eagle opening at 9pm. You should come.
Stream Being There here.