Alec McGrory: Life Is A Problem (Excellent Music Selection Vol.1)


Structured Disasters CD / DL

This intriguing grab-bag from outsider rock maverick Alec McGrory is proper shapeshifting gravel. In doublequick time, it moves from grainy home-brewed jamz through bucolic solo guitar and piano explorations, to claustrophobic horrorcore dub whose echoing growls once heard are pretty much guaranteed to haunt your dreams for weeks afterwards.

True, the sense that McGrory trying on different genres and styles like costumes from the fancy dress cupboard is palpable at times. Faced with another stylistic wiggle into elevator soul, clattering techno noise or lambent futurist electronica, one can’t quite resist the urge to call for a bit more monotony, even as we applaud McGrory’s restless spirit.

Yet once you get used to the stylistic impatience, McGrory’s tireless genre surfing isn’t so much tiring as exhilarating. An early swerve from the hissy bedroom head nodders of opener ‘Swingtime’ to the new-age fungus of ‘On The Wall’ shows both self-awareness and a deft curatorial touch. And scheduling the grouchy noise barfs of ‘Follow The Wall’ right after the fragile digital exotica of ‘2’ is as LOL-tastic as it is thrilling.

Even better is the bravura way McGrory chucks himself into every new endeavour, inhabiting each chosen form with with ease of someone who’s been doing it for years. The mood-altering finger picking of ‘Find You’, for example, its harmonious licks overlaid with crunchy, naturalistic field recordings, is as restrained and therapeutic as the output of any Takoma devotee. And the sketched-out piano clusters of ‘1’, all domestic rustle and ambient sustain, would fit very nicely into the Grouper back catalogue.

Capping it all is the late-placed curveball that is ‘Muzfunk Live!’, a Harry-Potter referencing mixtape that wraps all McGrory’s preceding machinations into a sonic end ot term report while continuing to push out in all directions. Having been initiated into McGory’s maximalism by what’s come before, the only possible solution when encountering this 18-minute roller-coaster is to ride its cosmic mash up of pirate radio blather, easy listening mania, mangled trip-hop, pitchshifted croak-talk and waiting-room esoterica until the very end. This the real deal. Hold on tight.



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