Jeremy Dubs Presents The Words, CD Review
Jeremy Dubs: The Words, The Soundscape of Dreams
An Intricate Weaving of Surreal Invocations
Jeremy Dubs has recently released his new album. With the help of his band mates, of whom are his girlfriend Rebecca MaComber who plays trumpet, and Vanessa Zaehring who sings and plays cello, he has created another veritable musical tour de force. The album is titled The Words and it takes a psychedelically magical wand to sprinkle love over eleven tracks of atmospherically stimulating noises. The atonal invocations of existential expression evoked by Jeremy’s explorations into human psychology shines with a dreamy sheen of glitter, which contrasts the seriousness of his complex message.
The project was something that developed as Jeremy Dubs sought inspiration from his own wisdoms. His voice serenades us into the first thing he has to tell us, pulling from his bag of sardonic wit as he sings in a reassuring tone that “We Ain’t Gonna Die.” The song begins with a funky synthesizer jabbing along with staccato melody, taking our ears for a swim through the fluidity of the rhythm as he bellows out mellowly “We Ain’t Gonna Die.” He then proceeds to tell us that “he knows what they say, and some of it’s true, one day your heart will be through with you, but you’ll be alive.” The music in the background is plaintive and ponderous with titillating keys bobbing up and down like a dog’s head, as if it too is curious about what it is experiencing, warbling, falling forward, irregular, and yet creating a cohesive glimpse into the workings of our mortality. Somehow, we leave this track feeling prepared for the journey that the album will take us on, having been initiated into the all-consuming question of what we are here to do, which Jeremy finds so important.
As the album carries on, we are treated to a mixture of artfully done covers, and ambitiously metaphorical songs, including Sun Ra‘s “Love in Outer Space.” Jeremy collaborated with his friend and director Matt Newman to create a music video for the track in which Jeremy answers a phone that connects him to Sun Ra who is played by Aaron LaRoche. The video is an interesting interpretation of the song as Jeremy Dubs enjoys channeling musician’s work to fuel his own, and with this song illustrates the direct connection between spirit energies. You can watch the video here. The album includes four other cover songs, including “A Song For You”, “New World Coming”, and two Harry Nilsson songs “Point of View Waltz” and “Sailin’.” He continues with the theme of his first CD Speak! in which he discovered Harry Nilsson’s dream world, and channelled it. This time he is concocted a fantasy of his own own, a dreamworld we can navigate, at times beautiful and at others terrifying.
Specifically in the track “The Worlds”, Jeremy invites us to explore the unimagined, throwing our minds into the open-ended question of what the metaphysical landscape of our subconscious would resemble if we were to allow it to unfold. This song is the perfect example of how Jeremy Dubs uses music to invoke the unreal, the subject matter of the song “The Worlds” drawing out the tantalizing possibility of living through the perspective of the abstrusely intrigued. Simple military drumming shake the background slightly as Jeremy encourages us to join him in a dream world that we could share. The entreaty is one that pulls us into a new dimension of suggestive imagination in which the invocation of a thought casts a shadow upon the picture of our physical reality. The electric space that Jeremy Dubs creates is filled with swaying music that tempts us outwards into a gentle argument with the unavoidability of our impact on this Earth. Halfway through the song, the cheerful pitch of exploration drops off into a mayhem of horns and draining synth noises, evolving into a nightmare. Vanessa takes up the weight of the somber keys, singing “I hear you baby, crystal clearly / All I need of you is for you to hear me too.” Her plaintive voice seems to dance on the very brink of being confident, hesitant and yet warm. Jeremy responds with a fearful and lost intonation that “It’s So Dark in Here” and the horns in the background spell confusion and disarray as these two voices attempt to bridge the metaphysical gap that blocks our minds from complete connection as they stub against each other’s dream worlds.
The searching voices of Jeremy Dubs and Vanessa Zaehring compose throughout the album an intricate weaving of surreal invocations, the two not competing but suggesting to the listener a meditative trance in which the urge to play is challenged only by the tinges of alienating frequencies that vibrate through the music, and leave us afloat, looking down on our world with a new and more expansive sense of self. And so he is fulfilling his goal of reaching out to his listener, by way of the shared abstract. For this reason the music is very listener-dependent, and the work carries the intention of transforming the listener. To enjoy it, one must be ready to sway from the ordinary and into a fantasy as the songs are as temperamental as they are joyful, often departing from sunny soundscapes and into darker pastures of converted energy, horns and rhythm colliding into a jam of impulses pressing up against where time has paused to let us into a new world.
The cover of the album follows the imaginative trend of Jeremy’s music. Its front dons a depiction of his dream world, it being a strangely cohesive planet, charged with the flexible beauty of unreality, through which sounds are ideas and ideas stand for places and the places we inhabit carry the weight of our creative integrity. Amanda Michael Harris did an incredible job drawing the cover, using the same vibrant imagery that characterizes the nature of the contemplative music. On stage, Jeremy’s band represents a kind of occult value, the music not being that which causes them to aggressively rock out, but instead captures the ears into an embrace with the very threads of our wandering hearts, and curious minds as they stand in place and deliver the music with the spiritual integrity of a preacher. And as with religion, the only thing stopping us from enjoying the music and the concepts behind it would be ourselves, our own limits of perception, our lack of patience for the simple beauty that Jeremy uses to fuel the makings of a better mind. Though the band has just returned from a tour that took them all down the East Coast and ended in Georgia, they are just beginning to get the attention that they deserve outside of Northampton’s close-knit community of musicians.
So buy his new CD from http://thebureaurecords.com where he has pressed his second CD in as many years, relying on the notable support of Charles Thompson, frontrunner of the Pixies, and the owner of Bureau Records. Be sure to listen closely to all that life has to hold, or else miss out on the gentle and yet complicated nature of the human mind whose very purpose is to wonder at it all, and carry on too.
–Ezra Prior is a Contributor to The Free George.
The Free George is the online magazine and visitors’ guide of Upstate NY, covering things from Albany to Lake Placid, including Saratoga, the Lake George region and the Adirondacks. Check out our City Blogs section for our extended coverage areas as well.
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