People say that the best works of art are born of intense pain and immense suffering and history proves this out to some extent (without getting into some existential debate with myself over the validity of the statement, it serves the purposes of this little pseudo repartee); now, Giles Corey (both the project and the album) is the tortured work of Dan Barrett (Have A Nice Life, ex-In Pieces, media mogul extraordinaire) during a purported low point in his psychological history (the details of which are wholly unnecessary as I am not writing for the Globe or Daily Mirror), and these types of instances do usually bring on some challenging works by the artists. I use the term artist in this instance because Mr. Barrett not only wrote the music, painstakingly recorded the instruments, conjured the artwork, and released the record; but he also wrote the accompanying book (with the first 100 or so orders of the CD) which further fleshes out and expands the mythos revolving around the subject matter of the verse found in the album proper.
So, answering the question of what exactly Giles Corey sounds like is a bit of a challenge considering the breadth of styles that Barrett puts to use in order to realize his vision, but, there are definite echoes of certain musical methodologies to Barrett’s madness; and that speaks to the quality of music on this disc as Barrett deftly maneuvers through singer / songwriter craft and dark folk to bluegrass maudlin (minus the modern day Nashville accented warbling as not heard on “Sleeping Heart” or the front porch summer evening choir and bar room drawl of “Spectral Bride”) and almost show tune schmaltz (bring on the Giles Corey musical) and even some minimalist electonica and ambient elements (“No One Is Ever Going To Want Me” I am looking at you because that beeping and the atmosphere it creates sounds like something off the Sunshine soundtrack) thrown in for good measure. I will say one aspect about Giles Corey is that it certainly is an album through and through with no filler at all that works extremely well together; and I personally could not imagine listening to the record in pieces, as it just would not feel right to me at all.
I keep thinking it while listening to this album, and I do not feel as if it is that far off in the overall effect and delivery of the music and topicality of the verse; but Giles Corey keeps knocking me back to calling it the darker, morbid offspring of Cursive’s The Ugly Organ only with a little less musical cohesiveness. Not that Barrett is aping Kasher at all, far from it actually, but this is a constant impression that I keep having while listening to this self titled effort from Giles Corey; and to many this comparison would be a huge compliment (and from me it certainly is meant that way as I still regularly spin The Ugly Organ). Giles Corey is the kind of record that each song evokes concrete images in the mind’s eye as it plays on the stereo, and I seriously love this (and any record that does this for that matter) album for that fact alone; but the simple fact that the music on this debut from Giles Corey (hopefully there are more works to come) is damn good is all the more reason to continue to dive back into this album again and again.
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