Agitated Atmosphere: Chris Forsyth - Kenzo Deluxe

As major labels continue to exist behind the times, artists and labels with little capital and lesser reputations are producing some of the most innovative, interesting, and inspiring music. Whether it’s creating a new niche in digital technology or looking to once obsolete formats, Agitated Atmosphere hopes to pull back the curtain on a wealth of sights and sound from luminaries such as Chris Forsyth.

On last year’s Paranoid Cat, Peeesseye’s Chris Forsyth evoked Rhys Chatham’s guitar armies with repetitive but infinitely pleasing rhythms. It stuck in your teeth like chicken gristle or a corn kernel. The pleasure of trying to pick it out and finally succeeding, only to miss its slight pressure against the gums, was a sole reason many began to gravitate toward Forsyth’s work after years of being an outlier musician.

Kenzo Deluxe doesn’t stray much from its predecessor’s formula, rather expanding upon it until the feelings of pleasure swell to new heights. Forsyth incorporates a few more influences into his repertoire (Loren Connors on opener “The First Ten Minutes of Cocksucker Blues” and Steven R. Smith on “East Kensington Run Down”), delicately perfecting the B.B. King formula of boring what you love and making it your own. Forsyth not only holds his own in working on figurative alms for fellow guitarists, he puts his own unique spin on each. “The First Ten Minutes of Cocksucker Blues” is not just a Stones tip-of-the-cap or a Connors homage, Forsyth taking the guitarist’s isolation and transforming it into fully formed melody eschewing the silence of Connors’ compositions. “East Kensington Run Down” also eases away from Smith’s self-containment, incorporating a bit of playfulness into the mix (a calmer Dustin Wong, perhaps).

But you needn’t know these guitarists or their tricks to enjoy Kenzo Deluxe. Like any great experimenter, Forsyth understands the important of rhythm and hooks in drawing a crowd. Like any pioneer, he is not afraid of either destroying his product. Take what you love and make it your own--Forsyth continues to do it spectacularly, Kenzo Deluxe the latest in a growing string of must-listen albums.

Justin Spicer is a freelance journalist whose work can be viewed at his website. You can also find him on Twitter.

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