1.8.21 by Ryan Masteller
The lone sax pierces the night like it’s in a Shane Black action noir, and “You Deserve a Name” kicks off just right. It’s gotta be this way, because over the next hour of this 2xC32 cassette release (housed in a clamshell case), Bob Bucko Jr. rakes the muck, gums the shoes, honks the horn, and presses buttons on various devices and keyboards, thereby ensuring – ensuring! – that tension is ratcheted and threads of storyline are tugged and followed to their logical conclusions. All of this while perfecting the dialogue between his instruments. Cheeky AND efficient!
“Stay busy or die trying,” quoth BBJr. on the back of the clamshell, and truer words have not been recently spoken. Becoming somewhat of a mantra for 2020, this sentiment is a rallying cry for the quarantined, and in April 2020, when this beast was recorded, we were all a little stir crazy. But never fear, Bucko set the table with a spread that included effects pedals, samplers, a child’s toy xylophone, a bunch of other stuff, and then set about trying to make sense of this whole mess with the tools he had at his disposal. Even several months down the road, 2020 has remained a mystery, although one with distinct characteristics; you could probably call it a mystery with big, hairy, stinky, stupid, obvious questions that are easily answered but remain obscured because we’re all a bunch of big, fat, hairy, stupid apes. Thank god for BBJr.’s nuance to all that.
Thank god for his restraint too – we need some of that up in here, what with all our stumbling and shouting and dribbling liquids from our mouths and heads. “You Deserve a Name” is an exquisitely slow burn, with BBJr. teasing out atmosphere and tones that hover in conscious reach like there’s always a gradual realization of something good just around the bend of the next minute. And while it’s all spectacular and often sublime, I’m still a sucker for those lonesome sax salutes. But as a fragment of a wilder, woollier whole, they’re even more interesting, their juxtaposition among the more experimental sonic flourishes like pieces to a puzzle finally fitting together – even if improperly. There are rhythmic disturbances, inconclusive oscillations – everything points toward deepening ambiguity, even when it totally shouldn’t. This is what you do! Here is where you go! BBJr.’s having none of that – he’s just trying to make sense of everything and get through to the other side, with as little scathing as possible upon his poor body and psyche.
“You Deserve a Name” expresses all that quite nicely.
Available in an edition of 50 from Bucko’s own Personal Archives.