Listen, Little Man…
Listen Little Man, Kent based Art-Rock quartet release their self-titled debut album. The album’s release was held at the Grogshop Thanksgiving day November 24th, 2012. The segmented recording sessions began May 7th, 2011 and were completely mastered in mid-late October 2011 at Just A Dream Entertainment Inc. under the supervision of Nathan Vaill. The name of the band/album pays homage to the late Wilhelm Reich (March 24, 1897 – November 3, 1957), Austrian/American Psychiatrist and Psychoanalyst that was the author of many essays, articles, and books, including the essay “Listen, Little Man!”(1948). Here is an excerpt:
“Let me begin with the little man in myself.
For twenty-five years I’ve been speaking and writing in defense of your right to happiness in this world, condemning your inability to take what is your due, to secure what you won in bloody battles on the barricades of Paris and Vienna, in the American Civil War, in the Russian Revolution. Your Paris ended with Petain and Laval, your Vienna with Hitler, your Russia with Stalin, and your America may well end in the rule of the Ku Klux Klan! You’ve been more successful in winning your freedom than in securing it for yourself and others. This I knew long ago. What I did not understand was why time and again, after fighting your way out of a swamp, you sank into a worse one. Then groping and cautiously looking about me, I gradually found out what has enslaved you: YOUR SLAVE DRIVER IS YOU YOURSELF. No one is to blame for your slavery but you yourself. No one else, I say! That’s news to you, isn’t it? Your liberators tell you that your oppressors are Wilhelm, Nicholas, Pope Gregory XXVIII, Morgan, Krupp, and Ford. And who are your liberators? Mussolini, Napoleon, Hitler, and Stalin.
I say: Only you yourself can be your liberator!”(Reich, 1948, pg.7-9)
Now! We can begin…
The album cover is a beautiful rendition of weightlessness and liberation of oneself. The artwork is a hybrid illustration in the style of Alex Alvarez (Album Illustrator), Willam Steig (Illustrator of Listen, Little Man!), and also reminiscent of Shel Silverstein. Alex has also created a comic book that illustrates the embodiment of the concepts of Wilhelm Reich, simultaneously rendering the experience of the band and his own psychological journey through the documentation of the album. The comic book is titled, “Blossoming…Innervision” by: Xela. It is available for purchase from Xela at his music events, and it’s well worth the very minimal cost.
Listen Little Man began as a side project for the band members. Jeffrey Hennies (Core Arranger/Guitarist/Hammond Bass Pedals) first visioned the band around the time of reading Listen, Little Man!. Being influenced by the writings, he carved the path for his own DIY project to adhere to his call for, if you will, freedom. Jeff gathered the players, Andrew Bonnis (Bass), and Patrick Hawkins (Kit), formerly in Akron band, The Speedbumps. As the instrumentation of the group progressed, there was no vocalist. Jeff used to be in a group named Dick Goddard that often partnered shows with Alex’s old project named Cows In The Graveyard. Having known each other for several years, they developed mutual respect for each other’s mindsets and musical ability. Alex decided to take the challenge of creating vocals to the progressive changes of Listen Little Man.
Nathan Vaill, producer/sound engineer, clearly took his time and honestly enjoyed this non-click-track style recording. The overall recording is polished, with each compressed instrument standing close to the ear, yet the character-tone of each player is not compromised. Take, “My Sun”, the soaring, literally fresh vocals of Alex. The vocals were undetermined prior to going into the studio, and brought forth like a new found discovery, by both Alex’s performance and Vaill’s interest to apply the doubled vocals to the main theme. The interpretation and effect catapults the performance to the sky. The technical yet intuitive, twenty-one year old bassist Andrew Bonnis mixes deep low tones with metallic trebly highs; The highs allowing him to rip some funk into fills and solos. A must hear of the album, features Bonnis’ solo in “Flesh to Soul”, an un-seemingly lengthy two minute paraphrased bass solo, grappling and crawling through the lucid corridor that is back-dropped by the sound colour laid out by the supporting cast . Known as the “Work Horse” of the group, Patrick Hawkins hustles the bridge section in “Following the Wails”; administering his crisp coolness to the foundation of the section and cruelly flips his dynamic synapses to drive the band viscerally back to the chorus. Jeff Hennies standout performance is ubiquitous throughout the record. Also shining in “My Sun”, Hennies boasts tri-polar contrast. The refreshingly soulful octave pre-solo leading into the badass, skillfully-phrased guitar solo, and then climaxing back out and into the refrain. Hennies’ knack for utilizing his boss loop-station to fill rhythm, while he throws contrapuntal riffs, is at full capacity on “When Facing the End”. The epic chugging undertow during the chorus that is sky-lined by the vocalistic guitar lines, ties together the unbound questions that are affront “When Facing The End”. The band as a whole stands solo with the culmination of clarity and form, appearing in “Ummm…”. A catchy number that would awake the dead, especially if they had died in an action packed, retro 70’s car chase…while trying to capture Oddjob.
An album that becomes more interesting with more listens is a record to have, this record is that. It has the depth of veteran players, yet walk-in-the-dark curiosity that has allows them to remain undetermined. Listen Little Man serves as a tour guide for inspiration, hatching from an underlying innervision, blossoming to the realms of the real.
article by Brain Rays