Chaos Rise Up
During recent months, in both live performances and local CD releases by various bands, I have been struggling; I keep straining to hear vocals through mud, and wonder if the sound person/engineer is working to make me think my hearing is going. That paranoia fades as soon as "Chaos Rise Up," Jeremy dePrisco's new release, begins. The mix is brilliant and the sound is crystal clear. Through speakers or headphones, every instrument is distinct, and the vocals (and diction) have a perfect clarity. Through the twelve songs, dePrisco displays a wide variety of musical styles, from the Nine Inch Nails hommage of "Chaos Factory" to the simple rocking of "Ones and Zeroes." Even though he has said he is not out to write "hits," some of these melody lines will get stuck very easily--and pleasantly--in your head. Which is not to say that the songs are all equal or equally enjoyable. While I like most of them, especially those with embedded political observations, I am not sure why "Creepy Girl" is here. DePrisco's explanations in the CD booklet are illuminating and enlightening (and definitely worth a read) but I am not convinced about this one. Also, there are times when repetition, both musical and lyrical, lessens the impact of a song; "Children of Light" is a case in point. But, if I may contradict myself, the looped Zen koan repetition of "What's Reality" fascinates me on every re-listen, and the repeated lines of "The Morning After" function brilliantly in the context of this dramatic song, that drives the CD to an excellent climax and resolution--an ideal ending to the CD. The cover art work seems to show chaotic objects rising out of an old tube TV that sports a buzzsaw on the side. Is it Chaos rising up out of the Boob Tube? As one listens to the songs, one instead gets the impression that mediated images, the "constructed reality that we share," and "all the marketing, all the images" [lines from "Catch the Squirrel"] have entered into the meat grinder that is this songwriter's mind, that dePrisco has made mincemeat and sausage of it all, and has produced a very tasty product, suitable for multiple re-listens.
"Here is music that is thought-provoking."
Chaos Rise Up - by recording artist Jeremy dePrisco
A Review by Mickey Maguire
Singer-songwriter Jeremy dePrisco has never been idle for more than a few minutes at any one time. Even in his music, he does not let the ebb and flow of market forces sway him, never drifting with the tide. He is ever-swimming, ever-climbing, ever-seeking new subjects, new moods, new directions.
Chaos Rise Up is a political statement, as much as anything else. It is a reaction to a journey across multiple decades, jobs, congested freeways, and tight daily schedules. It is a culmination of news-reels, politicos reading their scripted speeches while trying to look good on television. It is conservative, it is liberal. It is apolitical as much as political. The artist is the entertainer and the spectator, the advocate, and the challenger.
The title track sets your mind thinking and as you try to absorb this barrage of one-liners, you suddenly find yourself in the middle of the next track. Whoa, wait a minute, what was that he said in line...
You will want to digest this song over many playings.
I write a lot of music reviews. I publish and am editor-in-chief of a music magazine. It is typically straight-forward. Ah, but there is nothing mundane about Jeremy dePrisco and his music. You will want to chew on this for a while.
From ink-blots to subtle references to thinning hair, there is a sense of a person immersed in the hectic pace of life striving to unlock the secrets to all that is meaningful. There is a longing for genuineness and a boredom with synthetic government officials, empty policies, corporate oligarchies, and a society filled with emptiness.
“Proverbs” is a string of “proverbial sayings” and it is cleverly arranged. I really loved it. This is a very catchy melody and the instrumentation is first-rate. After the title track, this song is a total change of pace, yet if you read the lyrics, it is right in line with the philosophy laid forth in Chaos Rise Up.
The guitar work is excellent and the drums are really fantastic. This song could and should be a hit. Put together with a clever video, this could go viral. Yes-- that's a hint.
“Keep the Windows Closed” reminds me of a scene in the movie “Signs”. Picture Mel Gibson with the kids sitting on the bed wearing foil hats. If you are seriously worried about the ever-increasing surveillance in our “modern” age, then this song really might speak to you.
A little known proposal in this country is for “long-term incarceration for crimes not yet committed.” This song reminded me of that. Picture George Orwell's “1984” and there you have it. Normally, I would not want to be political in a music review, but this whole album is political and meant to set your mind wondering. This track is no exception.
My initial reaction to “Chaos Factory”, the fourth track, was to laugh. My wife and I have been watching the “Battlestar Galactica” remake TV series in recent days (she's a big sci-fi fan), and the intro of this song immediately reminded me of Cylons (the bad guys in the show are robots run amok).
When I reached this line: “The robots have been built, upgraded without guilt. No humanity remains...” my reaction, again, was to laugh. I did not expect that. Cylons, indeed.
“We live just to feed the machine,” reminds me of “The Matrix”, yeah, sci-fi again. What can I say. The image painted is undeniable. There is more than a little influence from classic science-fiction here.
“Organ Harvest” fits right in with the whole idea of sci-fi influence. Like a combination of “Coma” and “The Island”, the song speaks of harvesting organs from the recently deceased to sell on the black-market. I am not sure where the idea for this song originated, but, it is perfect for Halloween (since I am finishing this review on October 31st, it is, indeed, perfectly timed).
Follow that last track with “Creepy Girl” and now you have something from “Poltergeist” or the Exorcist. Maybe Jeremy was in a theater one night sitting behind a bunch of “Goths”, or maybe he just wanted to write a song to follow-up “Organ Harvest”.
“Ones & Zeroes” returns us to the synthetic world of “The Matrix”, the idea that we are living out our lives in cyber-space rather than engaging in “real” relationships and connecting with people. This might be Jeremy's way of saying, “People, GET A LIFE!”
“Catch the Squirrel” is the 8th track on this album. It is also the title of Jeremy's last album. This song is a strong political statement that actually doesn't take sides. It is about the lack of vision and lack of change in our present condition. Politicians run campaigns of accusation and speak of change, and when they settle into office, things remain the same. In this song, Jeremy is saying that we won't reach our goals or fix the mess we have made of this world in our present course.
While he doesn't elaborate, I know Jeremy dePrisco well enough to say that he expects people to do something about things that make them unhappy. If something is not working properly, the wise course of action would be to fix it. But nothing we hear, read, or “know” will help us unless and until we act upon it. “Catch the Squirrel” is like a countless number of metaphors. We could replace the “squirrel” with success, the promised land, prosperity, happiness, the list is endless. You can approach the “door”, but, if you never open it, then you cannot cross that threshold.
“Children of Light” is a song of a people that have overcome the past possibility of self-destruction. They learn and save themselves and no longer need to make weapons of war. There is, after all, no need to fight. Foreign invasion (from outer space) poses a threat of annihilation. In the end, the hope seems to be for some form of utopian planet.
One has to pose the question, can it ever really exist? Will we ever have the ability to set aside the need to arm ourselves in case of some potential invasion? The song, it seems is a longing for the time when civilizations rise above petty differences and peacefully co-exist. So, ask yourself, “What's Reality”. That is the question. What is reality. It is your perception.
“”Where the Rubber Hits the Road” is a song about every man. This is excellent track placement. After asking “what's reality”, the reality to this guy is that work has to be done to bring home the money to pay the bills, to survive. People do what they have to do when it comes to it. Sometimes no more, no less. Indeed, that is the average individual. All the religion, all the philosophy in the world won't help you catch the squirrel.
“The Morning After” is the final track of this album. I heard it a long time ago. Jeremy had a project that was never brought to market-- songs that were a musical “study”, if you will. This song was the best of the whole project. I told him at the time that I really liked it. I am glad it finally made its way to a finished album.
Funny, while I was reading the lyrics I noticed an illustration of a soprano ukulele below the title in the right margin. I am sure that Jeremy is tipping his hat to me here.
You will want to listen to this CD several times to digest it all. There is a lot of meaning hidden within.
If I had to pick favorite tracks, I'd pick “Proverbs” and “The Morning After” as the two stand-outs. These two tracks have been running through my head. Both have hit potential.
As is typical of Jeremy dePrisco, the entire album brings new and innovative material. Some things don't change and many do. Over the years Jeremy has continued to refine his technique as both a musician and a studio engineer and producer. He continues to bring to the table top-notch production quality and songs that make you think.
Between seemingly obvious messages there are hidden gems. There are questions on the one hand, insights and observations on the other. I always walk away from Jeremy's work with questions, ideas, material for future conversations.
Chaos Rise Up is a musical labyrinth. You might find yourself lost in it at points, which is why I said that you will want to listen to it several times, at least, to get it all. Even then, you might not recognize some of the messages within until some later time. That is the beauty of it. Here is music that is thought-provoking.