Modern Jester

Aaron Dilloway

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Modern Jester Review

by Paul Simpson

The back cover of Aaron Dilloway's Modern Jester states that "Every second of this recording contains subliminal messages." Dilloway credits himself as well as his wife and son with providing vocals on the album, and while human voices do make appearances, they never come close to being coherent, so the claim is believable. Several years in the making, Modern Jester was the culmination of everything the Michigan-born experimental artist had done since the mid-'90s, both by himself and as part of Wolf Eyes, Couch, Universal Indians, and countless other groups. The album is a symphony of barely controlled, blown-out tape loops which almost always seem to coalesce into heavy rhythms. Like its instantly iconic cover art, Modern Jester is grotesque and absurd, yet utterly human, and it's as scary as it is funny. There always seems to be a heartbeat coursing through these jagged trash-scapes, and even if it's a bit cathartic at times, it never seems like Dilloway is trying to be overtly confrontational. In noise scene terms, this is closer to Crank Sturgeon or Emil Beaulieau than Prurient or Whitehouse. "Shatter All Organized Activities (Eat the Rich)" is a prime example of Dilloway's approach, juxtaposing buzzsaw noise loops with passages of near-silence, and inserting his own deformed, ogre-like voice in the mix. "Eight Cut Scars (For Robert Turman)" is another stunner, building tapestries from harsh yet melodic loops which resemble bits from skipping '60s synth records. "Labyrinths & Jokes" (also the name of a 1998 compilation released by Dilloway's Hanson Records, which featured a noise piece by a young Andrew W.K.) is more hushed and calm, and somewhat resembles a grubby loop that Tricky might've growled over sometime during the '90s. "After the Showers," the album's final track, is a nervous yet oddly relaxing drone which seems to constantly slip off the tape deck. Highly inventive as well as thrilling, Modern Jester has rightfully been touted as Dilloway's masterpiece.

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