NOTHING HIDDEN ON JOHN J PRESLEY’S INTENSE NEW ALBUM, ‘CHAOS AND CALYPSO’
RELEASED today (via God Unknown Records) ‘Chaos and Calypso,’ the new album from Brighton-based multi-instrumentalist, JOHN J PRESLEY.
‘Chaos and Calypso’ features the first new music from Presley since his debut album, ‘As The Night Draws In,’ in 2019, and the vinyl only lockdown release, ‘Albany Sessions.’
Presley’s music is hard to categorize, but therein lies its strength. From folk blues noir moments to tasteful post rock walls of sound, classic songwriting to improvised, experimental moments.
A diary piece that echoes a period of ill health, of spiralling vertigo and misdiagnoses, ‘Chaos and Calypso’ shows Presley’s trademark guitar tone in full effect with enough space in the mix to weave in an innovative palette of textures from drum machines and synths.
Across the album’s twelve tracks, Presley tackles a wide breadth of musical and lyrical themes. There’s ‘Sea Of Deserters’ with its dissatisfaction felt at the current political climate. “The utter disgust and frustration in the powers that be,” explains Presley. “The sheer entitlement of some individuals, and the mess many have left behind for future generations. Selfish, unparalleled, uneducated greed.”
The anger, the frustration, in his voice during the song is amplified by the squealing clarinet and soaring horns by legendary British musician, Terry Edwards (PJ Harvey, Nick Cave, Gallon Drunk, Lydia Lunch and Tom Waits.)
Then there’s ‘Hold The Ties,’ which finds Presley following a stream of consciousness, recorded late one night in a trance like state, the song and feeling swelling in the moment, with some stunning double bass playing by ‘The Invisible’s,’ Tom Herbert.
‘Into The Fire’ again demonstrates Presley’s musical dexterity, inspired by his long drives through the Sussex Downs to London, the song was recorded live with him playing pedal steel and singing at the same time. “I love the ambiguity and resonance of a pedal steel, it’s a serene instrument,” he said.
The album closes with ‘The Sequel.’ “It’s a song all about hypocrites,” adds Presley. “I’ve encountered a few in recent years. Preaching one thing and really living another.” He expresses his annoyance by create the most jagged and distorted sound he could generate with an amp and fuzz box. It’s an earth-shattering end to a remarkable album.
Finally free of the confines of the studio, John J Presley will bring ‘Chaos and Calypso’ to life in venues across the UK in February 2024.
OCTOBER 31st Brighton, The Prince Albert
FEBRUARY 1st Portsmouth, Edge of the Wedge
4th Isle of Wight, Strings Bar and Venue
9th Ramsgate, Ramsgate Music Hall
22nd Hull, Adelphi
23rd Todmorden, The Golden Lion
24th Newport, Le Pub
25th Birmingham, Hare and Houn