Exposé Online banner

Ashley Reaks — Growth Spurts
((Not on label) no#, 2017, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2017-07-18

Growth Spurts Cover art

Musical collage artist Ashley Reak is back with another set of art-rock tunes, and once again he straddles musical streams without regard to how far he needs to stretch his legs. And that metaphor is as confusing as Growth Spurts can be. Each of the ten tracks is a little world of its own, though there are many commonalities. Reaks sings on most of the tracks, and nearly all of the arrangements feature woodwinds. Joel Purnell and Oliver Dover provide saxophones, clarinets, duduk (an Armenian reed instrument), and sipsi (a Turkish reed instrument), and their parts are often woven together into interlocking patterns, though sometimes they also provide more typical chordal punctuation or solos. The rest of the instrumentation consists of Reaks and Nick Dunne on keyboards, bass, and guitars along with programmed drums and percussion (presumably from Reaks). Stylistically, elements of rock, pop, jazz, and avant-garde mix together at various times and in various ways, often providing smile-inducing moments of creativity. A quick electronic beat with synth chords will be topped by atonal bursts of craziness from a clarinet; jazzy piano flourishes top an electronic beat oblivious to the tempo; multiple acoustic guitar lines give way to insane electric guitar noises. In addition to Reaks, Maria Jardardottir sings, and several tracks have guests providing either sung or spoken vocal parts. As much as I like the instrumental parts, it is the spoken word sections that sometimes kill my appreciation, whether it is Mike Watts and his intimate details of a one-night stand or Kevin Boniface and his encounters with rats dead and alive or the computerized voice describing sexual encounters on “The King Blows His Horn.” These gritty poems might appeal to poetry slam junkies, but for this listener just don’t work. I’ll stick with “Slugs and Snails Forever,” “Metal Fang,” “Divorced from the Body,” and “I Want to Live in Morphine,” all of which are great tunes without poetry recitations.


Filed under: New releases, 2017 releases

Related artist(s): Ashley Reaks

Latest news

2018-07-09
Soft Machine Set to Release New Music – It's been 50 years since The Soft Machine changed the face of music with their first album. Their blend of psychedelic rock and jazz was unique, and while the band went through many changes before disbanding in 1981 — by which time there were no original members remaining — they remained an innovative force with a style all their own. » Read more

2018-07-01
7d Surfaces Happy Rhodes Back Catalog – We've covered singer Happy Rhodes before, both for her solo work and recently with The Security Project, but her 11 albums have been hard to track down. Until now. 7d features high-quality downloads of all her releases, and several of them are also available on CD. » Read more

2018-06-25
Fred Chalenor RIP – We have news of another sad passing in the world of creative music. Bassist Fred Chalenor, whose creativity featured on albums by Tone Dogs, Caveman Shoestore, and many more, died on June 23, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer's. Tributes have poured in from the many musicians and fans whose lives he touched. » Read more

2018-06-13
Jon Hiseman RIP – One of the great drummers of the rock era has died. Jon Hiseman was a veteran of such ground-breaking groups as Colosseum (I and II), Tempest, John Mayal's Bleusbreakers, and was a founding member of the innovative large band United Jazz + Rock Ensemble. » Read more

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Vander / Top / Blasquiz / Garber - "Sons" Document 1973 - Le Manor – With the relase of AKT I - Les Voix de Magma, Christian Vander launched his new label to release live and unreleased studio material to all the eager Magma fans around the world, following the...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues