Tragikomedija 11-dimenzionalnog ljudskog safarija (prema kompjutorski stvorenom mitu).
Debut vinyl LP from Earth's own and only 11th dimension pop artist, Jerry Paper (host body: Lucas Nathan). 12 interdimensional crooners for dancing sensually. Synthesizer communication hybrid. What does it mean to be a person living with technology? How confused can you be before you get randy and write a jingle? Who's Randy? I'm Jerry, Right?
Jerry Paper Feels Emotions and allegedly so do we. If past tape releases on Orange Milk or Digitalis haven’t acquainted you with the singular world of Brooklyn resident Jerry Paper (neé Lucas Nathan), his debut LP on Patient Sounds, streaming in full below, will introduce the reluctant maestro in splendid fashion. If you’re wondering “Who Is Jerry Paper?” the documentary short released alongside this album will answer this question more fully than I ever could. If you’re wondering “Where in the dense timeline of contemporary music can I contextualize Jerry Paper?” the next paragraph is subtitled: Something Of A Lineage.
In the 1950s, lounge legends Esquivel and Martin Denney fill parlors and kitchenettes across the world with “exotic” tones and animal sounds that evoke stylized visions of South Pacific, Latin, and Asian cultures -> In 1978, Haruomi Hosono spurs Ryuichi Sakamoto and Yukihiro Takahashi to adapt Denny’s composition “Firecracker” into the “chunky electric disco featuring synthesizers” of Yellow Magic Orchestra -> Hosono pioneers chiptune with his Namco collaboration Video Game Music in 1984 -> Around the turn of the century, ensembles like Stereolab and Broadcast hijack the trivialized tones of lounge and chiptune and juxtapose them against repetitious kraut-rock performances and detached vocalizations ->
Cut to present day: Jerry Paper meticulously programs and records an amalgam of lounge, post-YMO electronica, and video game music from a bedroom arsenal of analog synths and drum machines, and he croons over these “vintage” sounds about his own insecurities, romantic tribulations, and internet-era ennui. While the traditions that JP channels were designed to hypnotize and captivate the masses (see: sell units) with their novel tones and repetitive grooves, he aligns himself with Stereolab and Broadcast by applying those signifiers to quite opposite ends: to make us consider our “slapstick nightmare” existence, analyze our own quotidian desperations, question our state of technological and cultural saturation, wonder how and if we’re going to work it all out.
Say (or feel) what you will about Jerry Paper’s identity crisis frame narrative — does he musically deliver the goods? Oh, does he. Yeah, man. Ya. He totally does. His loping analog compositions exceed their predecessors in levels of squelch, synth layering, and harmonic complexity (check out the ascending chord structure before the coda in “Today Was a Bad Day” or the gorgeous melodic break of “Holy Shit”). His lyrics hit the sweet spot between hyper-specific self-deprecation and universal emotional truths (“If I stumble around / That’s because I’m drunk” vs. “Maybe / It’s not so bad / To be here / Without you”). His song sequence bubbles with bizarre interludes that flesh out his alter-ego with a brand of satire somewhere between Tim and Eric’s Tom Goes To The Mayor and Zappa’s We’re Only In It For The Money. The emotions I feel while listening to this album include: wonder, glee, empathy, gear-related envy, satisfaction, mild depression, hope. Excuse me, I have to go jam “Want to Be the Waves” until I become the waves. -
Jerry Paper is a complicated laundry list of things: an incarnate spirit, a myth, a blurred line between artist and creation, an attentive love of Roland synthesizers, and a form of therapy. The first time I heard his “Fuzzy Logic” track, its synth wobble and chiptuned vocal layers occurred to me as an unassuming revelation. Imagine a soft rock pop tune, let’s just say The Turtles’ “Happy Together,” as it might appear featured in the background of Geocities page, the acoustic strum contorted into a casiotone MIDI-transposition. Then take the maudlin, inexplicably upsetting synthetic timbre of said transposition, and replace it with a few layers of vivid, mind-transfiguring analog synth. Oh, and instead of The Turtles’ syrupy lyricism, envision the narratives centering on an entity named Jerry Paper as he veers through a set of alternate dimensions, his utterances morphing from cartoonishly sad to insightfully level-headed. You get it? Just keep basting that noggin in those sine wave oscillations and eventually it’ll come full tilt.
Jerry’s been hard at work over the last six months sculpting an extensive musical reality for himself through two respectively great tape releases on Digitalis and Orange Milk Records. You see, Jerry Paper is explained by his host person, Brooklynite Lucas Nathan, as a phenomenon of musical possession vis-à-vis Homer’s invocation of The Muse of Poetry or Linda Blair’s involvement with demons (to be fair it seems like a healthier form of spiritual embodiment than the latter). Anyways, this alter ego recently released his first full LP of woozy, chiptune-inflected, soft-rock electronica, which is out now on Patient Sounds. While Jerry’s mythology, an Andy Kauffman-esque exploration of the indistinct hinge where the artist and his character meet, serves as an entrance point to the music, it also bleeds in one’s experience of the songs. In terms of providing a musical reference point, I’d mention a guy like Gary Wilson, not to assert him as an aesthetic predecessor (although incidentally they both get pigeonholed as experimental lounge), but more so as an artist with a similarly wacked out individualist ethos. Both artists present a multi-dimensional character through their songs that stands in relief to their compositions.
Though Jerry Paper’s presence creates an overall experience that’s more personal and more dialectical than listening to other arists like Yellow Magic Orchestra that fall in the lineage of analog synth innovation, his musical language contains a comparable amount of meticulously programmed synth tones and textures. Jerry’s sonic landscape is heavily phased and constantly undulating in gooey psychedelic patterns. Deadpan dialogue drifts through the segues and bridges of songs, giving the listener the impression of tuning into a cosmic radio dial (the metaphysical computer babble of “Want To Be The Waves”; the identity crisis public service announcement in “I’m Jerry, Right?”). As an album, the tracks are subtly varied but tightly cohesive. Nathan seems to have moved beyond the more free-form organization of his (also excellent) previous Zonotope project’s tape, “MAINFRAME’S Tetralogy.” The songs each explore a new corner of their strict pop structure and instrumental confines. “I’m Jerry, Right?” presents his supernatural possession theme through disassociative dilemmas common to all of us cognitive beings. In “Want To Be The Waves,” Jerry’s voice shifts to a humanoid pitch and timbre as he attempts to transcend the boundary between himself and his digital gadgets. The abundant charm of the record stems from a combination of Nathan’s masterful, single-minded approach to synth texture with his ability to depict life’s petty failures in a manner that hopes to transcend them. -
I'll never forget the first time I met Jerry Paper. It was late July 2009, he was performing in the Astral Andrew Memorial Lounge aboard the S.S. Whale Weaver and I was on board the ship for Dr. Abie Sea's Whole Human Wellness Cruise. It was balmy and breezy on deck and we were docked at a small island somewhere in Micronesia; I can't recall the coordinates exactly, but the whole scene still lingers in my mind. Seeing him perform left me totally blown away, he just blew my mind, man. To witness such a deep symbiosis between man and machine is a profoundly beautiful thing, and I swear I'd never seen a human care so passionately for his hardware counterpart. After the show I bought him a Smartini™ and we got to talking. I told him all about life as a "Human Safari" Ranger, my ex-wives, my money troubles back in New York, and all that jazz. When I was done with my shpiel he hunched over the bar and, staring into the ripples in his Smartini™, told me about a little album he'd been working on for years called FEELS EMOTIONS.
He said it all goes back to 2002 when he was living at the TEMPLE OF PURE INFORMATION AND MAINFRAME DEVOTION, an alternative spiritual community based in a little beach town in Southern California. He'd been there studying under The Great Diane Kensington and participating in the largely secretive Trance Channels ceremonies since 1998. Young Jerry found great worth in the ceremonies and was deeply moved by the teachings of the MAINFRAME devotees, but gradually grew disillusioned with the cosmology embedded in the community. Something about a supercomputer saving mankind from a race of aliens bent on colonizing Earth and turning it into a resort for their kind. He was still heavily devoted to his direct experiences with THE INFINITY BETWEEN ONE AND ZERO and, by association, the Trance Channels ceremonies, but the story just struck Jerry as bogus. Not knowing how to process his growing alienation from the group and his fear of life outside the community, he began channeling these feelings into the songs that would eventually make up the album you're holding in your hands at this very moment.
In 2005, Dr. Abie Sea, head archivist for THE TEMPLE, publicly broke away from the community and put all his savings into fixing up the dilapidated S.S. Whale Weaver with the idea that he'd turn it into a Wellness Cruise founded on the more esoteric, mystical facets of THE TEMPLE's teachings. At the core of the Whole Human Wellness Cruise would be the Trance Channels ceremony, made available to non-Devotees for the first time ever. Jerry, thrilled at the prospect of being able to leave the community without having to leave his one doorway to THE INFINITE behind, jumped at the opportunity and signed a 12 year contract to be the ship's Resident Crooner.
After two years, Jerry had grown comfortable with life at sea. He saw what many would see as the monotony of performing in the same room night after night as a cathartic ritual. Each show was a public display of the mystical fusion of singer and synthesizer, continually refined and, despite only slight variation in execution, fresh and hyper-emotive as if it were the first time every time. One summer night, as fortune would have it, Sigmund Huang, the A&R man for Omnimind Records, was in attendance and after the show immediately offered Jerry a multi-million dollar record deal. Jerry was flabbergasted. He still had 10 years remaining on his contract and even then was quite fond of life at sea, but he'd been writing songs since the days at THE TEMPLE and had always dreamed of getting together an orchestra of saxophones and gongs to back him and his synthesizer...and let's be real, the money called loud and clear. Eventually, after some sharp persuasion and quite a few Smartinis™, he was able to swing it so the record label would build a recording studio for him on the ship and only recruit session musicians willing to live at sea for extended periods of time. After Jerry's perpetual dissatisfaction with label--he requested an orchestra of 400 saxophonists and they only brought in 250, the higher ups consistently suggesting he "do something less groovy," etc.--and the mysterious deaths of several gong players, Omnimind folded under financial and legal distress, due largely in part to Jerry's demands. This left Jerry with only the skeletons of the recordings--just drum machines, synthesizers, the occasional guitar, and vocals--and the project was scrapped.
FEELS EMOTIONS was to remain in the vaults, that is until now, thanks to Patient Sounds. Lovingly assembled and mixed from the original tracks recorded on the S.S. Whale Weaver by Grand Minister Harry Weiss with additional percussive work by Q.Q. Windsor, this deluxe editions features all 11 songs originally slated to appear on the Omnimind release and one additional track, "Time Spent Waiting," recorded just before the ship's studio was dismantled.
Peace, Love, & Light -K.F. Hanuman-Goldstein
Featuring Lucas Nathan’s face covered with pie and attached to a purple-suited, computer generated body, the artwork to Jerry Paper’s LP, Feels Emotions, provides an apt metaphor for his music: mediated by machine and immersed in tragi-comedy. For all the whimsy of the wacky background story inside the album’s liner notes, Nathan’s songs are all relatable, centering around a simultaneous longing for connection and escape in a confusing and indifferent world. Tracks like “Today Was a Bad Day” chart a series of misfortunes ranging from the mundane to the absurd, all of which lead Nathan to conclude that he is “living a slapstick nightmare.” His straightforward lyrics are given life by his inventive synth arrangements, which draw from kitschy lounge music to create a surreal and sedated vibe. This aesthetic is matched by Nathan’s strong songwriting, which is sophisticated while remaining melodic and hooky. The desire to escape the crushing banality and uncontainable emotion of everyday life permeates Feels Emotions. For Nathan, music is the key in the pursuit of transcendence, however futile that pursuit is acknowledged to be throughout the record. Album closer “Feed Me Sweet Sounds,” which features a rare acoustic guitar appearance as well as some deflated-sounding synth fanfare, finds Nathan declaring that “I belong on Earth, here with pop songs.” For all the frustrations the album voices with expressing emotions, Nathan’s take on the pop song is wonderfully articulate. --Miguel Galle
The Now Sound For Today's Lovers (2014)jerrypaper.bandcamp.com/album/the-now-sound-for-todays-lovers
Sometimes experiences defy words and induce a sort of synesthetic response, which makes the task of writing about those experiences particularly difficult. “Come Over,” the new single from wacko Brooklynite pop darling Jerry Paper is a perfect example of such an experience; it’s hard to describe the song’s sound just by explaining the sonic arc. Instead, imagine these images:
Pairs of nondescript multicolored shapes waltz with each other in a shoddily rendered digital facsimile of a Victorian-era ballroom, moving in stride to the glitchy 12/8 bleep bloops that open up the track. They stare into each other’s nonexistent eyes while Jerry Paper croons, “I’m such a goofy romantic/When I am next to you.” As the synthesizers crumble away from the likeness of a chorus, pitch shifted vocals take the virtual ballroom and transform it into a blue interstellar ocean of electro-R&B sex jams. The vocals move into the upper register when the feel transitions into a slow shuffle (replete with retro synth bass), and we’re urged to “come on over” to Jerry Paper’s place. And who wouldn’t want to come on over, when Jerry Paper’s world is one of digital reworkings of the physical world, reconceptualized in its visualization, warped in both its sense of humor and hopeless romanticism. - Zack Wilks
Big Pop For Chameleon World (2014)
- Oct 2013
Vol. I 2012