Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Hyperjinx Tricycle - Long Lost Love

(Important/Shortwave, 2002)

I’m not usually a big fan of Daniel Johnston’s collaborative projects, given that the presence of outside musicians – and the attendant focus on things like arrangements, polish, and a consistent tempo – tends to dilute and flatten an idiosyncratic style that works far better on its own terms. Still, on this disc of outtakes from the Hyperjinx Tricycle’s first album, it’s interesting hearing Johnston’s familiar voice and lyrical themes within Jack Medicine’s dark musical settings, particularly “Long Lost Love,” which is raw and understated in a fashion that his over-professional, over-produced, and generally over-thunk albums of the last decade (including this group’s scattershot debut) have failed to manage. The B-side is of equal worth, featuring as it does a moody Medicine original reminiscent of Sparklehorse and a radically different version of Johnston’s piano-pounding stab at a theme for the “Greg the Bunny” program. With insipid lyrics (“Greg the Bunny/TV show/He’s a really cool bunny/He’s so funny/Yes he is”) delivered by dueling, out-of-sync vocal tracks, the latter is bad-trip material in the best sense, recalling the early Stress tapes in its ability to be simultaneously – and effortlessly – charming and unsettling.

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