FAME Review: Emperor X - Western Teleport
Emperor X - Western Teleport

Western Teleport

Emperor X

Bar None Records - BRN CD 209

Available from Amazon.com.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

It's alleged that Emperor X frontman Chad Matheny, formerly a high school science teacher, got his compositional sense from the Pentecostalists' theatrical practice of speaking in tongues. Not that he was doing that, jabbering like a loon, that is, but the guy was using a karaoke machine a local church owned in order to do his own recording. How babblalia figured in is anyone's guess—the geometry is too abstract for me—but it may very well be, as Matheny's compositional practices are attractively odd, a strange sense of Ubu-istic noiseuring, chapelesue propriety, punkerisms, and, of all things, mellow rock resulting in an edgily dreamy whole.

The package, though, I'll warn, is little too often mid-fi. The Magnetic Media Storage Practices of Rural Pakistan, for instance, though a clever short package of ideas, is irritating as hell in its wavering soundfield. In fact, Matheny is overflowing with uniquenesses and innovations—even new wrinkles kind of in a lineage with Erik Lindgren, David Cunningham and others—but the presentation doesn't do them justice at all. Of course, the Bar None label, like Twin Tone, Tone Casualties, Matador, and countless others, has never been famed for technical savvy, soooooo……

Indeed, such ventures seem to purposely underwrite inadequacy when it comes to that. Were this entire CD to have been given the luscious Enossificational treatment of Allahu Akbar, Western Teleport would be outstanding…or rather, it IS outstanding but only in conception and half the execution. Matheny's creative ferment is almost without bounds yet the documentary process is just so frequently flawed (and everything in the composer's life surrounding this CD speaks of shoe-stringing), something that should rightfully have earned a lot more studio time and pensivity, not just an on-the-fly, don't-have-the-money, the-label-won't front-me abandonment. Teleport, clocking in at a tad over a half hour, is actually just a mid-ground between extended EP and normal album, but its 11 songs are so damned dense with ingenious touches that the housing suffocates the art. I say: do it all over again under another sponsor, and refurbish the CD into the twistedly pleasant art statement it was meant to be, not an alleyway of blurry detritus with hidden glow.

Track List:

  • Erica Western Teleport
  • Sig Alert
  • Canada Day
  • A Violent TRanslation of the Concordia Headscarp
  • The Magnetic Media Storage Practices of Rural Pakistan
  • Defiance (for Elsie Sunderhouse)
  • Anti-Rage
  • Allahu Akbar
  • Compressor Repair
  • Sincerely, H.C. Pregerson
  • Erica Western Giger Counter
No songwriting credits given (promo CD).

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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