Friday, May 19, 2017

FIRST IMPRESSION: R. Stevie Moore and Jason Falkner - Make It Be

Collaborative albums between artists can be dicey propositions. Does it sound too much like one of the folks involved or do you split the difference between the two different styles/personas?  Can the sum possibly be greater than the parts?   Trust me, for every “My Life In the Bush of Ghosts” or “Madvillian” there are a dozen “Watch The Thrones”.  It takes not only an estimable set of skills to make the balancing act work, but also the ability to set aside ego to come up with something that works best for the songs.  Against a lot of odds, “Make It Be” (a nifty bastardization of the Fabs’ “Let It Be”), the collection of tunes birthed by the coupling of madly prolific lo-fi hero R. Stevie Moore and power-pop prodigal son Jason Faulkner gets it almost exactly right! 

Eschewing the scrappy homemade quality and murk of many of Moore’s releases, this is Faulkner’s sonic show.  Fuzzed-out opener, the deliciously misanthropic “I H8 Ppl” sets the stage, with Moore spitting lyrics atop Faulkner’s bed of guitars and synths and it sets the stage for an album chock full of deliciously weird and inventive tunes. While “Make It Be” can at times come off as lacking cohesion, the kitchen-sink experimentation more often than not produces a roller-coaster of sounds and styles, exemplified in miniature by the way the lo-fi prog instrumental “Gower (Theme From a Scene) bleeds into Moore’s spoken word diatribe “Prohibited Permissions” and finally segues directly into the buzzy garage stomp of “Stamps” (a Pixies-esque salvo about needing a roll of the titular object, natch).  At 18 tracks, it can be a bit dicey at times (the noodly, half-assed guitar interludes don’t exactly ooze necessity), but wonderful gems like the silly and delightful ersatz ‘50s juke-jumper “Don’t You Just Know” more than make up for any chaff amongst the wheat.  If nothing else, it makes me remember how much I miss and love Jason Falkner.  His “solo” contributions like “Another Day Slips Away” or the psych gem “Horror Show” would have fit perfectly on his well-loved 90’s solo albums for Elektra.  Also, his guiding hand has helped Moore to make the most of his gifts and provided structure to a songwriter whose own prolificacy sometimes works against him. “Make It Be” is not only a nice addition to both artists’ catalogs, but will also hopefully bring some deserved exposure.