Apr 08, 2021
By Dustin Krcatovich
The work of Lonnie Holley is singular, to say the least. His improvisational vocals are a beautiful, burbling stream of consciousness; his visual art floods from a similar place, a combination of sculpture, bricolage, and whatever else works for the moment. Basically, he lives the “BE HERE NOW” ethos and makes great art out of it.
Holley has pushed and/or transcended collaborators before, but would the famously meticulous Matthew E. White rein him in, despite his best intentions? These things have gone bad before. Luckily, this ain’t that: Broken Mirror, A Selfie Reflection, in fact, provides an absolutely spectacular bed for Holley to do his thing. The music, culled from some experimental sessions White did for his own work and initially shelved, is pure On the Corner robot boogie; it’s head-bobbable, but also ventures into some wildly dissonant and atonal territory. White laid some dub moves on the edits and handed them to Holley, who proceeded to work out most of the vocals in one take. The results are wild and churning, each track a journey.
There’s truly not much like this; the closest thing offhand might be Cubist Blues, Alan Vega, Alex Chilton, and Ben Vaughn’s 1994 classic of off-the-cuff mutant R&B (a major compliment, in this reviewer’s book). Even then, though, Vega (rest his soul) relied heavily on his Quaalude-Elvis schtick as an easy-to-access center; Holley has his tics, sure, but he’s really without a net here.
Broken Mirror, A Selfie Reflection is an idiosyncratic record, and it won’t be everybody’s vibe. All tracks, save one, are over five minutes, and most pass the nine-minute mark; aside from some of the throbbing basslines, it’s not catchy. Anyone willing to meet it on its level, though, will find a work of cathartic depth, and remarkable inventiveness. (www.matthewewhite.com, www.lonnieholley.com, www.mattewewhiteandlonnieholley.com)
Author rating: 7/10
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