Gary War – New Raytheonport album review

I have one two overriding complaints about this record. First of all, there’s way too much reverb- to the point where it’s obscuring the actual songwriting, which is mostly interesting. The second complaint relates to just how incredibly buried the vocals are.

In all honesty, my first encounter with Mr. War was during the course of writing this review, so unfortunately I can only base my opinion on this one album. What I’m getting at is that, this being his third album and all – I do some fact checking out front- those two things I was complaining about are probably very premeditated, or, at the very least, prominent in the decision making.

This album works better with a pair of decent headphones. It’s very trippy, in a claustrophobic kind of way. There’s something vaguely alienating and oppressive at work under the seemingly chipper and highly melodic surface. It would seem to stand to reason that new wave music and 80’s musicians like Gary Numan would be an influence on this guy. This impression has grown on me, as I also started checking out his back catalog a little bit; the synthed out arpeggiations on Jared’s Lot paint a clear path to the aforementioned influences, at least to me.

What is interesting is to hear the way the sound has changed and grown since Jared’s Lot, considering that they were both released this year. It’s almost as if Jared’s Lot was a dry run for New Raytheonport; there is a definite sonic evolution, as is apparent from the opening strains of ‘Clouds Went That Way’, which, strangely enough, has a very psychedelic feel to it. In moving forward through his own personal musical development, Mr. War is being retroactive in terms of stylistic appropriation.

I still question the necessity of so much reverb. I don’t think it adds anything of real interest to the musical proceedings, which have a lot to offer, but are buried… under a wall of reverb. There is a whole bunch of multi-tracking type effects coupled with some highly inventive vocal layerings. On top of this, creativity abounds in terms of the songwriting and instrumentation. But, to access this, you need good headphones, because the wall-o-verb kind of wrecks it.

By Paul Paradis

Paul is a musician, writer, and teacher living in Tacoma. When not engaged in the endless task of raising his six year old whirling dervish James Sparhawk, he spends his time creating music, pursuing a bachelor's, working out, and living. He is originally from the east coast: Worcester, Mass. born, and Providence, RI bred. Having traveled around some, the Pacific Northwest tends to feel more and more like home with each passing day, Very similar to New England in some ways, but different in a way that is refreshing. Rock on.

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