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John Von Ryan | Organs Vs. Furniture (Load)
Odd enough to be essential, cool enough to be fun, and experimental enough to be respected or reviled, John Von Ryan's dispatch from the depths of drug hell is neither comedown nor dusted high; it occupies an uncomfortable zone in-between. There's a sleazy elegance to the junk shop organ sound Von Ryan promulgates, a despotic Don Juan-ness that I find somewhat irresistible (or maybe just irrepressible). Much of this record plays like a series of love themes inspired by the Cinema Of Transgression, which is to say they aren't so much about love as the psychic trauma resultant from a substitution of mental or physical violence in love's stead. Not that the lyrical content directly address such topics, the vibe of the record just seems to imply them. As with much of the Load catalogue, Von Ryan's cant on musical statement is decidedly more off-kilter than the 'average' oddball indie releases one sometimes stumbles onto. Load, in fact, is a goldmine for such inspired strangeness. Given the nature of their promotional materials, it seems that half their roster of artists wear terrorist hoods while performing (!?). Von Ryan does nothing of the sort, but he weaves an uneasy tunelessness and an aggressively slapdash drum sound to his songs, two elements that have much in common with the post-punk, post-new wave Providence sound Load so keenly embraces. So, if you're in the mood for some sludge-funk low end, passively creeped-out vocals, or a taste of what could be termed 'retirement home hip,' slap this baby on and let the bad vibes roll. (P.O. Box 35, Providence, RI 02901, USA)

G.C. Weeks
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001