According to a rather famous neo-Zen epigram, life sucks and then you die. However, before that inescapable conclusion there’s always the chance of living enough to listen to a new album by Joe Colley. This simple factor may cause a momentary change of prospect in the course of one’s negativity.
There’s repetition and repetition; there are drones and drones. Four years of absence from music making did nothing but confirm that the undersung loner from Sacramento stands among the leaders of a pack of coherent sonic fomenters with copious foam dripping from the fangs (Jim Haynes, Jason Lescalleet… the cognoscenti certainly see what I mean). Colley is typically described as a man whose intuitions walk across the thin lines between various types of altered psychological state. While this is true to a degree, for this writer his greatest asset is the ability in facilitating the physical consumption of frequencies extracted from sources of mostly unknown origin. By listening to No Way In’s two sides you simply become a functional part of an enlivening mechanism. Ringing racket, intermittent vibrations, earsplitting alerts and mesmeric loudness flow through brain and nerves like intravenous feeding, the electroencephalogram suddenly showing signs of hyperactivity. A marvelous feeling, quite distant from the “internal dilemma, mental stress, paranoia, and the pessimistic contemplation of one’s fate” listed in the press release. In extreme synthesis, I felt much better afterwards.
Also, Colley’s drilling vehemence is sustained by compositional skill. He’s a master in the fine art of progressive layering of canorous raw materials up to levels unbearable for those in need of peaceful consonance. Variable combinations of largely abrasive nuances are positioned in the mix little by little as the reaching of a climax keeps shifting away. Occasional sudden breaks attempt to subvert the status quo (noisy minimalism’s coitus interruptus, anyone?) but the sense of continuity remains unbroken, in spite of the necessity of a quick readjustment of the auricular membranes. Pieces of demolished reality seem to emerge sporadically. Is that multiplied frog chanting after the ninth minute of the first side? Is that a baby’s disfigured screaming somewhere in the second half? It’s not important to know, anyway. A record that could hypothetically drown a weak individuality in the quicksands of ill inwardness turns out to be a collection of galvanizing impulses for cerebral impermeabilization. Another weapon against the disasters of self.