Music Reviews
Cyclops Reap

White Fence Cyclops Reap

(Castle Face) Buy it from Insound Rating - 6/10

In 2012, Woodsist Records released Family Perfume, which is the two-part release from White Fence (a.k.a., Tim Presley).  For the release, a promotional blurb typed out via the fingertips of one Ty Segall says the following:

“Fuck Nostalgia. Live the truth. Truth is feeling, truth is sound, truth is motion. I am believing. I am seeing. I am moving. TRUTH IS FOREVER. Meet The Presley/White Fence Truth Serum.”

“Fuck nostalgia” seems contradictory.

Granted, Segall’s words were meant for another album, but I took his declaration as some sort of plea for listeners to ignore the acid-saturated whimsy and go-go boots bounce that Presley seems more than happy to explore in his music.  That being said, I’m inclined to believe that Presley doesn’t say, “Fuck nostalgia.”  In fact, I’d say his new album, Cyclops Reap, subsists upon it, Presley’s tongue gladly hanging out and welcoming whatever small button of pure chemical utopia finds asylum on his taste buds.  The first time I heard the single, Pink Gorilla, I saw primary colors hang and swirl in the air I breathed.  “Time warp” might be a cliché, but Presley writes songs like he’s constantly reminiscing about a time he understands purely through its sound and its narcotics.

After a productive run last year, (the aforementioned Family Perfume plus the Segall collaboration, Hair), Cyclops Reap, which was released through John Dwyer’s Castle Face Records (Thee Oh Sees), is eleven tracks’ worth of polite flashbacks and Velvet-y, Barrett-y articulations which are flanked by tape splicing and other studio randomness.  While the album was originally conceived as a compilation of music that had been left off previous White Fence releases, Presley’s prolificacy bore new music to include.  In spite of that, Cyclops Reap still tends to sound like more of a demo than a finished album, a lively and pasted together collection of ideas that don’t sound complete.  There’s an abruptness that’s distracting, as if editing and sequencing had been handled with scissors and Scotch tape, and a lack of refinement that could either be an intentional nod to the idiosyncrasies of an album like White Light/White Heat, or just a lack of resolution.

With the overall fuzz and lo-fi sheen that, at times, adds cherubic consonance to his vocal, Presley’s sonically vintage considerations compensate for the album’s lack of cohesion.  He maintains an appreciator’s sensitivity, which goes far in aiding in his music’s appeal.  In spite of its faults, Cyclops Reap is nice to listen to.  There’s a pleasant stroll to Chairs in the Dark and a charming array of psychedelic nuance.  I enjoy the acoustic skip of Beat, its quietly sung stanzas almost melodically mumbled.  It’s like a tranquilized take on Herman’s Hermits.  To The Boy I Jumped in the Hemlock Alley is psych folk wonderment, its fluttering keys a nice embellishment.  I also like White Cat, its resigned disposition transitioning into quick post-punk shifts. 

Presley’s made a competent facsimile of a 60s psychedelic album.  Credit him with picking up where almost 50 years ago left off.  And, after that, question the value of indie rock at this point in time.  Where once the genre stood to distance itself from the self-indulgence and conceit of the 60s, forming its own identity as independent music created by independent rock bands, it’s been in the interest of many indie-associated bands of the millennia to act revivalist, deriving from source material that, while important, profound and essential to rock music’s evolution, alienated generations that followed.  As Presley and his contemporaries continue to propagate this culture of 60s centricity, when can we expect music to move forward?  Maybe it is time to say, “Fuck nostalgia.”  And, mean it.