Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Peering into Gregory Pepper’s creative process and his inner workings probably resembles the dream like visions Michel Gondry crafted in his movie, The Science of Sleep. The only difference would be that instead of odd creatures/sculptures and random flashes of colour dancing around the serene calm of his subconscious, we get to hear the mix of jagged synths, electronics and guitars that dances around the calming 60's pop Pepper prefers.
How else could you explain how he can follow his playful synth ode to Eddie Murphy and Rick James with the ear pleasing piano notes he bangs out to kickoff I Was a John? Or how he shifts from new wave-ish Drop the Plot to the tender ballad Built a Boat? Or his 50’s-inspired ode to suicide? Or how he can play with classic hip-hop samples and scratches? Or how he moves from electro pop into more chamber/baroque sounds – in the same song?
Without a doubt, this record is fragmented and scattered. Calling it a collection of short stories would even be giving the effort too much structure and I ok with that. Pepper and his band whip through snippets and ideas, exploring sounds and textures for only as long as they think is required (of the thirteen songs, five are less than two-minutes) and as you can imagine the results are all over the map. You jump from playful exuberance to frantic noise and energy and back almost constantly.
Sure - almost by nature - With Trumpets Flaring is full of peaks and valleys and without a doubt Pepper’s mind works in odd and mysterious ways, but he writes good songs. He’s morose and melancholic, but can change mood and pace without warning and more importantly he displays the kind of creativity that leads to the big rewards that more than outweigh the stumbles.