Varieties of Religious Experience (KLP149)
Ever since Arrington de Dionyso cleared his throat and growled "I ate a hole right through the mirror/ Spat out the shards, and I put it back together" on the standout track "Mirror", his music has spoken to those lonely souls who have stared at themselves in the mirror and known that something lies on the other side, beyond their comprehension. The band Old Time Relijun formed in Olympia, Wash., in 1995 with bassist Aaron Hartman and drummer Bryce Panic, to take Arrington's four-track tapes that had been circulating and spooking people around Olympia, and to translate them into live performance. Since that time, the band has gone through various mutations, including a number of drummers (Phil Elvrum, currently of the Microphones, toured and recorded with Old time Relijun for several years after the departure of Bryce Panic), but the spirit of Arrington's musical explorations and creative expression have remained constant.
Unlike most releases that attempt to summarize a band and an era, Varieties of Religious Experience is not a clear-the-vaults effort, and the multiple takes are not filler; nor is their inclusion the result of an unchecked ego, intoxicated by its own brilliance, unable to edit itself. It would be equally wrong to suggest that Arrington's four-track takes are "originals", the band's versions are "alternates", and one is necessarily better than the other. While four-track enabled Arrington to cram songs full of esoteric sounds and a sheer ear-popping lunacy that can turn two minutes into kaleidoscopic trips, Hartman and Panic helped loosen his grip on the drum sticks, change up the whack-a-mole tempos, and let a song's backbone slide. Calling the result Varieties of Religious Experience emphasizes Arrington's belief that it's all good - every song is its own spark of playful, in-the-moment creation, its own shard of experience - and the remarkable thing is that all is good on this CD.