Jonathan Snyder has been a mainstay of the outer fringes of Jacksonville’s music scene for much longer than his youth would suggest. Whether in innumerable collaborative one-off projects with other margin-walkers, DJ sets that he mixes with his own live improvisations, or in the bruised blues and howling noise of his Blood Mountain project, Snyder is as restless as he is prolific. Snyder’s new project, Bright Orange, has just released their debut, Killer Lake, on the local Infintesmal label. Bright Orange is a welcome anomaly on Infintesmal’s roster, their synthesized alien horror/lovescapes at odds with the usual rough-hewn punk clatter. Let’s have more of this. Hints of Coil, Black Dice, Cabaret Voltaire, early Human League, and Harmonia abound on this album. All walking that same thorny path of making the electronic sound organic, each note suffused with the sense that hands turned this dial or formed that chord or stepped on this distortion pedal, in lieu of an innumerable (and numbing) series of points and clicks.
Part of the charm of this album is the listener’s inability to discern what instruments emit each treated sound; perhaps it’s a guitar, perhaps a keyboard, perhaps a pan filled with boiling water and wind-up Godzilla toys. Is that really a voice singing some lullaby in the background, or is it a sample, or perhaps some sad ghost that saturated the four-track tapes? Toy music, Gothic music, psychedelic music, new wave music, no-music music is all blended up and splattered Pollock-style, in and around my ears.
The overloaded, haphazard but strangely sad organ on “Q*Bert Goes to business School” reminds me of Neil Young turning “Like a Hurricane” into a pump organ number years back. Telepathik Friend mainstay Omebi lends a hand and a melody line from one of her own songs to “Killer Lake.” “Orange Blood, Orange, Bones” is beautiful and downcast, like a cross between John Carpenter’s Halloween theme and Depeche Mode’s “Sacred” played on a toy Casio. “@$^($*TYGWRG..” ends with a quick vamp of Suicide’s “Ghost Rider,” or so I heard.
Who knows what will become of Bright Orange after this album? Jonathan Snyder is almost impossible to pin down, warily keeping his distance from anything even approaching a commercial venture, while simultaneously changing band names and lineups at will. It’s all a continual chase for art and expression. However, If he can gather an ensemble that can faithfully execute the weird/strange, concise beauty of this set of songs without getting bogged down in lengthy jams, and he takes this act on the road…. well, this could very well be his big moment.
Bright Orange: www.myspace.com/loveattackk