BY MARY LEARY
Greg Boring is a Brisbane, Australia-based group of artists who may or may not be musicians. What the band’s attempting with Heavy Syrup is out of the conventional composition box enough for instrumental prowess to be more or less irrelevant. The oddly immediate merging of digital and lo-fi beats and effects provides a backdrop; a relatively odorless refuse heap through which female/male vocals, and things sometimes resembling melodies, attempt to plow. (Perhaps it’s a recycling heap. In my neighborhood, homeless people and lifer bottle-pickers — some of whom do, I’ve learned, have homes — routinely disassemble the groupings of paper and plastic I try to keep together; hoping they’ll actually be recycled.) So it is, in a way, with Greg Boring’s debut, which was originally released by Cypress Hillsong online. The group can’t seem to choose between deterministic course plotting and narrative deconstruction, resulting in some interesting tension, and enticing audio, which are occasionally subsumed by that indecision, along with the outfit’s adherence to a casual, causal journey.
Several reference points aid the casual/causal effort. The female vocalist’s murmurings often seem to be surfacing a league or so downstream from a spot where Julee Cruise left off. These are intriguing enough to keep one straining to hear whatever it is she’s saying; although the best approach is simply giving in to the album’s paint-without-numbers experience. Even when clarity of intention and/or melody is relatively in absentia, Greg Boring achieves a fair amount of offhand hypnosis. That magnetism’s at the base of what’s probably intended to be, and occasionally is, more than the sum of its obvious parts; a multi-layered experience likely to deepen – or at least reliably satisfy – with repeated exposure. While it’s not yet there, the band seems capable of going where Mum would if the latter were less elegant and well-constructed, perhaps also sating TFUL 282 fans who’ve hungered for more of what that defunct assemblage used to do.
This is a promising experimental debut (yes, these artists are gifted enough to merit that elusive, rather dangerous moniker). At its freshest, Greg Boring channels the innocent fun of Tinker Toy play through a murky psychedelic filter in a way that skirts anyone-could-do-this banality – it’s almost funny.
For anyone familiar with Bo Hansson’s Hammond organ-based, trance-y gems, the punch line is that Heavy Syrup’s longest, most musical track, “Night Moves,” could have been on Hansson’s Music Inspired by Lord of the Rings. When it was released in 1970, his solo debut came across as unpretentiously artsy pleasure; a sort of Terry Riley Lite.
DOWNLOAD: “Fine Find Fined,” “Night Moves,” “Primitive Lotion”