Although I’ve been a music blogger for over a year and a half now, I can honestly say that I’ve never heard anything quite as weird as the EP I’m about to review. Bristol-based artist Jerry Afraid describes himself as “Bob Dylan being raped by a fax machine”, so that may give you the tiniest of inklings as to the level of strange we’re dealing with.
Indeed, his debut EP caused me to wonder what really constitutes as music. All the boundaries of the differences between music and a collection of sounds were broken and this EP showed me that someone can just play around with some electronic noises and strum along to it with a guitar. If something incredibly thought-provoking and original is born through doing this, couldn’t anything in fact be considered music?
Right from the off, Jerry’s EP begins with Demons Rush In, an unsettling and very weird track. It begins with a clicking amidst a low buzzing sound. Then something appears to rattle against a wooden surface and a glitchy drone resembling a light switch going on and off arrives. Jerry’s groaning vocals join in and it takes on a stark and eerie form. As on many of the EP’s tracks, a ghostly wailing begins to emanate from the background and drifts in and out of the juddering electronics. A sound that can only be compared to a malfunctioning printer is thrown into the mix and it ends with a scraping sound tied to a whistling.
Cash sees the electronic glitches run alongside a smooth acoustic guitar. It has the air of being sad and/or confused with Jerry’s nasally vocals taking on a bit of a David Gray vibe. It’s a simple track with a lot less going on than Demons Rush In but it still has a level of quirk. The glitching electronics do become a bit jarring as the track runs on but it gives it an edge that other acoustic pop tracks simply don’t have.
The halfway point is marked by Battle Cries For Lost Souls, which has a more upbeat demeanour. Melodic synths dance happily in the background as Jerry’s dreary vocals are drawn across it, making emotions clash. There is a touch of retro to it with the sound of a fast typewriter in the background and of course, the ghostly wails re-surface. All in all, it’s a song that has a lot of different layers each with its own agenda and to hear them fighting to be heard makes for an interesting listen.
There You Go begins with the simple acoustic strums again accompanied by the same wails we’ve heard before. The spirit behind the wails seems to hover over the melody and disappear when Jerry manages to break through his creation to become a soulful acoustic singer, which is a really refreshing change from the electronic gimmicks. We even hear the Americana twang in his voice. It ends with electronics creating a twittering sound that seems to help it fly off.
Hearts and Hands begins with the fuzz of a radio voice, which has featured in the EP from time to time. Clumsy drawling vocals join a whistling wind sound and the voice takes on a vicious form. There is a much bigger focus on Jerry’s vocal talents in this track which is a really lovely thing to hear and he proves that as well creating weird and wonderful soundscapes, he is also a talented singer. It ends on an ominous note with spaceships sounding and computer glitches killing the music.
Final track Blink and You Miss It encompasses all that Jerry can do. An acoustic guitar plays a sad riff and it has a floating, dreamy feel. It’s repetitive with the same riff continuing throughout and not a lot else, which makes for a stripped-back affair. It’s great that he ended on such a simple track after a very busy EP. It’s actually quite hypnotising and relaxing, so is perfect for chilling out to.
All in all, it’s an EP that will intrigue you and throw up a lot of questions. Jerry is certainly one of a kind and a mishmash of noises may not be everyone’s cup of tea. However, it’s a record unlike any other you’ve heard before, so it may just surprise you if you think that there’s nothing that hasn’t been done before.