Ian Svenonious has perhaps never skewered hoary rock tropes as effectively as he has here, on The Lost Record. The new release from his Escape-ism project, the outfit's second in less than a year, out this Friday on Merge Records, is an imagining of a lost album. And, by jumping over decades where the "band" would keep going, Svenonious has offered a current relic, some impossible future's imagining of what an unappreciated masterpiece from 2018 would have sounded like, or something like that. It's a great game of pretend, and that Ian makes so much of this actually work as intended speaks to his skills as a craftsman, as much as a performer.
"I'm a Lover (At Close Range)", all "Red Right Hand"-isms swirled up with rickety gospel organ, purrs with that familiar power this guy brings to every project, even as "(I'm Gonna) Bite The Hand That Feeds" sounds a whole lot like "Nag Nag Nag" injected with a truckload of sinister motivation. If this all sounds fairly convincing, Svenonius is to be applauded 'cause if nothing else, he believes in his own shtick.
Now, I'm not trying to be dismissive but, rather, acknowledge the artifice here. And, for all that should feel familiar on this one for long-time followers of Svenonius, there are a few tracks on The Lost Record that managed to surprise me: "Bodysnatcher" with it's rough soul beat; "Exorcist Stairs", all Throbbing Gristle end-of-the-world-stuff whipped up into pop punch, and "You Darken My Night", a goth deconstruction. A release that is both (wonderfully) unhealthy and invigorating, The Lost Record sees Ian Svenonius fully commit to this Escape-ism racket...even if for only 40 or so minutes at a time.
The Lost Record by Escape-ism is out on Friday via Merge Records.
[Photo: Alexandra Cabral]