Artist: Telephone Jim Jesus
Album: Anywhere Out of the Everything
Released: September 25, 2007
Somewhere beyond atmosphere but within gravity’s pull—nearly freeform yet defined by its unerring direction—you’ll find Anywhere Out of Everything, the latest (mostly) instrumental full-length from Telephone Jim Jesus. Arriving three years after George Chadwick’s auspicious solo debut, 2004’s A Point Too Far to Astronaut, Anywhere offers further exposition of the themes and methods of its predecessor, but while that last album was celebrated for a lush etherea punctuated by bright bursts of rhythm and light, this one works its duality to the fullest throughout. The end result is a multihued textile of living song that can be admired both for its constituent parts—mini opuses with aural narratives unto themselves—and as a subtly evolving whole.
Anywhere Out of the Everything, is, as much as anything, a testament to the loneliness, abandon, growth, and madness of a life lived on the road. A European tour with Sole and pedestrian in the summer of 2005 coincided with the break-up of an eight-year relationship, one that stretched from the middle teens to the middle twenties. Without a home to return to in the U.S., on a post-traumatic whim TJJ decided to stay in Europe, and for about four months careened mostly between Sole’s apartment overlooking Gaudi Park in Barcelona and a Lithuanian squat in South London, doing a occasional show to scratch up money for the train. The moment he landed back in North America, he took off through the South and up the East Coast, with stints doing reconstruction work in a Vietnamese community on the Gulf Coast immediately post-Katrina, improvising anti-war demonstrations on Capitol Hill, and for an odd couple of weeks labored and partied in a shuttered hotel on Cape Cod.
Wandering through the overgrown graveyards, thrift store treasuries, and unreconstructed gothic quarters of Western Europe, he found both staggering artistry and usable material in the corridors of the old world. His retur voyage through the physical devastation of the Gulf Coast and the moral wreckage of Washington D.C. stirred the impulse to create once more. Anywhere Out of the Everything (the title is a riff on Baudlaire’s “Anywhere Out of the World”) documents this period in great, if fractured, detail, from the cover art collaged out of London’s trash to the variety of voices and sounds captured on Dictaphone and symphonically embedded in the music. So a violin sings in a London tubeway, a muezzin calls the faithful to prayer on a shitty speaker overhead, a crowd croaks out horrific noises, and the voices of he and his fellow travelers recite the desperate poetry inscribed in London tombstones and strain to describe what elsewhere emerges before them.
“Did You Hear?” begins loose and free, warm fuzzy tones and effected acoustic guitar intermittently trading spaces with loping darkness. As the album earns its momentum, Tel Jim Jesus pulls bloops and bleeps down from the atmosphere and welds them to the song body. The opener gets heavier, louder, then boils over in upbeat acoustics and controlled squelch. Alias contributes to “Birdstatic,” which lays a blanket of orchestral synth over a rapid, wooden-block beat, guitar that plays like harpsichord and whizzing bottle-rocket blasts, while “Ugly Knees” weaves rattling, hollow guitar tremolo with big break-beats, stuttering snares and Dictaphone epiphanies from Pedestrian and Doseone. Anywhere’s curious, soma-like acceptance of melancholy as something beautiful and invigorating continues through the slowly unfurling “Featherfall” (featuring electric cello from Subtle’s Alex Kort) and the windy, ominous “Leather & Glue.”
But with “A Mouth of Fingers,” an intricately layered crystalline head-nodder featuring Ped and Bomarr, Anywhere takes a turn to the aggressively exuberant. And “Suicide Wings” offers a big, bouncing, dirty musique concrete reworking of “Birdstatic” before breaking itself over a classic Anticon banger reverently dubbed “Dice Raw.” Here Pedestrian spits stylized venom over TJJ’s electronic bump (a seamless mix of old school and Eno) and Why? singsong-raps the wistful refrain: “What’s your life like?/Man, mine ain’t real/Every time I wake up/like, ‘Run that reel.’” That velocity continues with the hugely gorgeous “Hit By Numbers” (featuring Bomarr)—with its brilliant kaleidoscope of high-register synth shards, Tubeway Army-conjuring bass synth and clackety percussion—and peaks with “Faces All Melted” (featuring Bomarr and Odd Nosdam), where TJJ chops acoustics like the Books, manipulates texture like Chris Adams (Hood, Bracken), and bends mood like Cornelius.
Finally, the eight-minute dusty swirl of “The Castle by the Freeway” thrusts us back into orbit. And hurling through electrical buzz, we’re left to contemplate Anywhere Out of the Everything, an album ultimately borderless, but so perfectly defined by one man’s path and the many avenues he’s explored both in and out of the world.
01. Did You Hear?
03. Ugly Knees
05. Leather & Glue
06. A Mouth Of Fingers (mp3)
07. Suicide Wings (Birdstatic Remix)
08. Dice Raw
09. Hit By Numbers
10. Faces All Melted
11. The Castle By The Freeway