GEPH – Apophenia

GEPH – Apophenia

Boston, Massachusetts-based GEPH are back with a second album.

According to the Interwebs, Apophenia is “the spontaneous perception of connections and meaningfulness of unrelated phenomena”, the term first coined by German neurologist and psychiatrist Klaus Conrad (1905-1961). Conrad focused on the finding of abnormal meaning or significance in random experiences by psychotic people. The word has found a place outside psychiatry [Editor: Not a day goes by that when I don’t casually drop ‘apophenia’ into conversation…] and is used to describe the natural tendency of human beings to find meaning and significance in random, coincidental, or impersonal data. Apophenia may be described as the tendency to find personal information in noise, e.g., happening upon an open safety pin and seeing the arms as a sign indicating the time your son committed suicide”. Source link: HERE.

You may have seen my review of GEPH’s first album. I summarised with “I’d like to hear more of this highly collaborative sound but also hear a little bit of the individual jumping out, perhaps in the guise of a track penned by each of these cracking musicians on their next album. There must be a next album.” Well, part of what I’d like to see happen, happened – but did the rest!?

What can you expect? It’s probably better not to expect anything. Ignore my obsession with references to the Chapman Stick – GEPH don’t really play on it – actually, they absolutely do play on Chapman Sticks, but they don’t harp on about it. They don’t play harps. Approach GEPH with an open mind. You will hear what I’d imagine is Jazz Rock, suffused with industrial metal. There are riffs to lull you into a false sense of security and whilst comfortably standing on your back foot they’ll push you off-balance with a heavy, full body head-banging growl of distorted strings and a barrage of drums.

Just as you think you have a handle on what this album is about Tyler will make you look again with an ambient track. One extreme to the other! Then a couple of tracks on it’s pure jazz with mind-fuck time signatures which further changes the depth and character of this album. The word “jazz” crops up a lot in this review but this isn’t just a jazz-rock-fusion album. In places GEPH perform the darkest and heaviest shit you could ever wish to hear.

I really liked the first album but the music on Apophenia is wider in scope. I doubt my review of the first album made any difference to the outcome of this second album but, nevertheless, they absolutely nailed it. This unusual six-legged entity has done exactly what I wanted. I am familiar with both Stickists’ solo material, and whilst the music of the debut album showcases a coherent and democratic approach, the second album is a much more relaxed affair in terms of showing how the individuals make up the sum of the parts. Their individuality is embraced and yet there isn’t the remotest hint of there being anything but a single vision of what makes GEPH function – no mean feat given that both Stick players take it in turns to play lead, bass and rhythm.

Apophenia has more space than the debut album, but where it is called for they do not hold back. This music is full. In any case, Apophenia showcases the songwriting and player expertise of all three musicians perfectly. GEPH have evidently made Apophenia from the heart but these are clever musicians with brains. They can’t help but make it from that organ, and I believe that is evidenced by some of the time signatures and astonishing interactions, beats, drum-breaks, arpeggios, licks and riffs. This stuff is clever, sophisticated, at times joyous, in others, heavy, even, in places, creepy.

If you like Brand X, Bruford, Aphex Twin and the more Frippertronic side of Robert Fripp, then I reckon you’ll like this. Brilliant. It’ll be playing in my car for a while!

01. Macroaggressions (7:41)
02. Whole Body Headbang (4:40)
03. Little Guy (2:41)
04. Get Your Insignificance On (4:58)
05. Mourningstar (6:24)
06. W.W.F.D. (8:52)
07. Back From Space Earth (5:40)

Total Time 40:56

John Tyler Kent – Chapman Stick
Josh Goldberg – Chapman Stick
Josh Merhar – Drums

Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 26th July 2018

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