Thur April 21
1905 NE MLK
There are moments on the Gris Gris' self-titled debut record in which tape hiss is the loudest discernible instrument. It could simply be that the sound of magnet on plastic is the only audible element that's not completely obscured by a hollow cavern's worth of echo, but I'd like to imagine the Gris Gris' tape hiss-as-instrument aesthetic as something considerably more deliberate than that--a consistency that unites the muddily mired disparity of the band's vision. At first listen, the Gris Gris has an eerily voyeuristic quality; its sound so distant and remote that it almost feels as if taped surreptitiously at a linoleum hallway's distance--a sensibility only enhanced by the glaring irregularities that occasionally blemish the tape. Which isn't by any means to suggest that the Gris Gris are a band of the traditional lo-fi intention--and in spite of how much the technical fidelity of their music seems to play a role in their sound, the Oakland three-piece seem about as far away from the bedroom as one could possibly image.
Formed from the ashes of a solo project surrounding Houston native Greg Ashley, the Gris Gris of their hazy 2004 debut could be accurately described as a garage band--though such an assessment would probably prove grossly misleading. By the same token, it's nearly impossible to hint at the essence of Gris Gris without evoking a dangerously ambiguous qualifier like "psyche"--but again, that's not really it either. There are so many ghosts between the listener and the dank, yawning cathedral from which the Gris Gris seems to echo that the sounds can't help but melt into one another. Galaxie 500 evaporates into Roky Erickson, who in turn fuses with moments of Cale-era Velvet Underground--but with air so heavy, such plain influences do a good deal to obscure one another. And somehow, through this wash of disparity, the record's squelches and swells bond together in glorious, syrupy cohesion.