Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gary Wilson - "Mary Had Brown Hair" (2005)

According to internet lore, a young Gary Wilson once received the following advice from John Cage: “If you aren’t irritating people, then you’re doing something wrong.” Gary apparently took these words to heart and, having since occupied his rightful throne as the dark prince of creep-funk anxiety, has accrued a reputation among those in the know of being one of the strangest and most rewarding players in the obtuse arena of outsider art.

Given that Wilson’s father, an IBM technician by trade, spent nights playing stand-up bass in a local lounge band, and that Gary himself was a proficient multi-instrumentalist by the time he entered primary school, the “outsider” label might seem a bit of a stretch; but a cursory listen to 2005’s Mary Had Brown Hair, Gary’s return from self-imposed obscurity and his first record in over 25 years – a deeply strange, obsessive and oftentimes troubling album filled with nasty hooks and pitched-up schizoid robot voices – reveals that there isn’t much about Gary Wilson’s paranoid brand of basement electro-funk that you might call “traditional.”

This album tends to garner the kind of criticism often hurled at similar weirdo bastions of the avant-garde: it’s alienating, obnoxious, and occasionally unlistenable. I’ll concede that this album isn’t for everybody, but supporting the record’s veneer of abstraction and repulsion is a bedrock of unstoppable groovescapes and sticky pop perfection. In the face of these foiled impulses, Mary Had Brown Hair prompts listeners to ask a very basic question of themselves: “Am I the kind of person this album is meant for?”

And the deduction process is surprisingly simple: If you’ve ever had the desire to move into your mom’s basement, make a dedicated commitment to spurn the daylight and its constant threat of humiliation, pour a bag of flour over your head and aggressively stalk an unresponsive lover while making everyone with whom you come in contact intensely uncomfortable – and, really, who hasn’t? – then, congratulations, this weird shit might just be meant for you.

Rating: 10/10


No comments:

Post a Comment