Early January. Minneapolis. Land locked and entering the extended hangover that ceremoniously follows the first half of a Minnesota winter. Muting the landscape, an extended umbrella of grey, rarely hinting that once upon a time, a bold sun held council.
In the late afternoon, on one of those days, I meet up with my friend and fellow bassist Casey O’Brien. We live a few blocks from one another and tend to meet up several times a week. We meet for coffee around 2 pm where he is freshly showered and shaved following his afternoon workout. As he lights a cigarette he alerts me he has to get home soon due to his plans of eating an entire bag of pizza rolls. Casey is the antithesis of Casey. We rumble around, moving from postmodern thinkers, to the benefits stocking up on dollar-a-pound meat from discount grocery stores. That duality is what I love in Casey. It’s in his conversation, his disposition, his daily routine, and especially in his music.
Casey and I have known of one another for probably 15 years. It takes the terrible ups and downs in life that only being a musician can provide, to get over ourselves as “competing” bass players, only to discover that both everyone and no one ever really wins. In the past few years that we have become close, I have become extremely aware of Casey’s ability to synthesize information. In total contrast to my academic and research-based approach of music, Casey organically presents his musical ideas with all necessary DNA inherent, yet unencumbered by posturing, ego stroking, or derivative schlock.
I think of Casey as a bassist. Fast, quantized, and fearless. I was less familiar with his electronic work, with the exception of his homespun workout jams that are a wonder by themselves. In this effort, I hear Casey…both of them. It’s sort of a solo bass record, or ambient, or something from Amon Tobin. It is also none of those things. It’s rather, just enough of those elements to wet your appetite, but not enough to be definitive. It’s video-game sounds and break beats. It’s linear like a novel until it’s not. (Like a Samuel Beckett novel.) Somewhere between what it is and what it isn’t, is Casey’s music, it all it’s duality.
A sandwich made with soft Wonder bread and corn chips buried just underneath.
There is texture, there is color, there is light. There is deep, introspective fun, and backbeat philosophy. (Casey’s music is the antithesis of Casey’s music.) Perhaps, it’s a reminder that the sky won’t always be overcast, or a nudge for us to take notice of the occasional pop of color that ekes it’s way through the clouds.
Whatever the perspective, listen again. The lens refocuses with the listener. Like all good art, is deserving of multiple considerations. My impression is that it sounds like my friend, and since he has multiple personality disorder, chances are, it may sound like your friend too.
January 2016, Minneapolis