Of all the artists, those who have created greatness and fallen to shit, those who consistently under-perform, those who never make anything great, those who have one album in them and the rest is filler, those who begin with something pure and infectious and fuck it all up by overthinking, those who rip off other obscure acts and gain wrongful praise, of all these conglomerations and constellations of “artists” Glen Galaxy is set apart as a person who eats, lives, breathes music. His relentless output proves that he is not a one-trick pony, his forays into other styles and genres manages to bring a breath of fresh air into those fields without stifling them or insulting the forefathers. He has a genius streak. Undeniably. Able to find the best, rawest ingredients of each path he is starting on and produce it time and time again.
Cascading downhill like a skateboarder wearing a million colours blitzing by in a mesh of lightning and hallucinogenic flashbacks, Soul Junks music has enough energy to power Namibia for a decade if things got rough. Based in San Diego, Glen “Galaxy” Galloway’s life-project is a jangly, slanted and enchanted lo-fi (now hiphop) band that rose from the shadows of his departure from the legendary Trumans Water. Blessed with unlimited inspiration (from above), the ability to meld styles as seamlessly as butter on toast, artwork that defies genre, mixtapes that defy music, and a list of releases longer than the Nile, as usual, his life-mission has been overlooked by all but a chosen few.
With weird-alt heavyweights such as Thurston Moore and Beck (early days) preaching his gospel at shows and interviews, you’d have thought the spectacled army would have rushed out and made Soul-Junk a household name by now. But as in all things, there are reasons why some heads don’t poke above the ground. In Glen´s case, it’s probably his Christian zeal. The fact that he considers his music enough in itself and doesn’t chase the higher rewards others consider the absolute.
I understand 100%
Don’t get me wrong here. I am a staunch believer in the fact that religion/belief cannot limit a person in their musical ability, in most cases the opposite is true, it spurs them on to create greater things with an extra element of inspiration or duty thrown into the mix. Some of the most beautiful music ever created can be found in religious settings, Monks chanting, choirs singing old hymns, Tibetan prayers, Hindu religious ceremonial mantras, all seem to fall under their separate spells and give something inexplicable to the listener, like there is a secret being shared that you don’t quite understand. Even put in a Norwegian setting the amount of times I’ve heard Oslo-ites claiming they won’t listen to a band just because they profess a belief in something bigger makes me honestly wonder how fucking stupid people can be. Isn’t the music the point? Herein lies Soul-Junk’s curse.
Glen is an evangelist. He doesn’t just make music to make music, he writes songs taking huge passages out of the Bible and spinning it into lyrics for his insane songs. Rather than lend his voice to the most subtle grey areas of religious debate, he flies headstrong into the centre and spreads his message with a black and white fervour. There is no argument. This is the way. The truth. The life.
Much in the same way that Johnny Cash got away with it, and 16 Horsepower/Woven Hand continue to attract Bathory fans and Deicide followers to their concerts, Soul Junk seems to have fallen in between the cracks. 16HP’s lyrics are as brutal as it gets, concerning David Eugene Edwards personal beliefs and his challenge to others. Yet somehow, people ignore the stark religious overtones and focus on the music, much like Johnny Cash. Soul-Junk is listened to, and placed in the “Religious Nuts” category and never returned to. Much to the catastrophic loss of most potential listeners. I can´t quite figure out why people can stomach one over the other.
Soul-Junks music starts at 1950. Ep’s work downwards, 1949,1948, 1947 etc. Full lengths go upwards, 1951, 52, etc (1960 being the last one released, and 1938 in the EP section). In it’s earliest concoctions the music was not far away from where Glen had left off as one of Trumans Waters songwriters too, with the brash, loud, horrendously wonderful lo-fi pop of the late 1990´s. After a few years of ploughing the field of rock, he slowly started incorporating Hip Hop beats and ventured out into the territory of rap. The man could do no wrong. Beats broken up like a mash up between Dälek and Prefuse 73, rap skills that more than held their own weight with the heavy slow-mo style of San Diego underground, Insane Sun Ra-esque instrumentals strewn between and across all the releases, hidden tracks that were actually full albums (1954 is a 45 minute hidden track at the end of 1953), artwork that inspired the whole cut/copy/collage revolution to hit the states a few years later, emphatic live-shows that juggled between screeching guitars and gospel meetings, the man churned through release after release while teaching in the daytime and spending evenings taking care of a family. The first time I met Beck in the early 2000´s he couldn’t speak highly enough of Soul Junk, just when Beck was doing a more commercially successful amalgamation of Hip Hop and Lo-Fi too. (Hmmmm).
For new disciples in the gospel of Glen, a good place to get baptised is in the waters of 1953. His most “accessible” release to date, full of quirky, great pop songs to put a smile on your face. Moving upwards or downwards depending on your preferences, back down to the more lo-fi outpourings, and slowly upwards to where hip hop starts creeping in with a vengeance and ultimately takes over. Either direction is a journey well rewarding and one everyone should take at least once.
Glen Galloway has set out on a journey to not only confuse people, but to also unite them in the strange doorways of his melodies. Some records have actually been released on Sub Pop, and even label Homestead (Sonic Youth, GG Allin, Sebadoh, Big Black, Dinosaur Jr), adding to his indie-cred and showing further evidence of the potential for being considered one of the greats in the same light as the aformentioned tribe. With the hiatus completed (Glen took many years off in the 2000´s to try and put the entire Bible to music) and his children part of his live act, his latest offering 1961 was released April 4th via Sounds Familyre. Check their sites for streaming of the new album: http://soundsfamilyre.bandcamp.com
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