Album Review :
Jay Tholen - Control Me

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Artist: Jay Tholen

Album: Control Me

Label: Ubiktune

Release Date: November 1, 2010

Reviewer: Eric Pettersson

Tracklisting

  1. Time Transcendent
  2. Altars
  3. Hashivenu
  4. I Know
  5. Prayer
  6. A Temple of the Holy Ghost
  7. Control Me
  8. Be Alright
  9. Bleeding Over
  10. Show the World
  11. Eagle Feather, Falcon Claw
  12. Curtains

In the more than six years that I have been an active reader and/or writer at Indie Vision Music, I have come across a great number of unique, original, creative, and “strange” musicians. From Danielson to Metavari, Family Force 5 to the Psalters, I’ve seen more than my share of artists who shirk the mainstream to create something almost entirely unheard of. Well friends, add one more to that list, because Jay Tholen’s avant-garde electronic tunes are some of the most unusual I’ve heard.

The style is called chip-tunes, which apparently means something like Joy Electric, but more dissonant and with a heavier influence of early 1990s video game music. Through all the bleeps and blips, I can hear song structures and melodies that remind me of Modest Mouse, Bright Eyes, and maybe some late 70s/ early 80s progressive rock like Kansas or Styx. It’s fun stuff with a serious message, though the unusual music and less-than-elegant vocals may be too out-there for the average listener. Then again, the whole album is available for free download in MP3 and even FLAC formats, so why not give it a try?

The lyrics are overtly religious, highlighting the ultimate supremacy of God and the need for Christians to be active in worship, service, and evangelism. “Prayer” asks for forgiveness for knowing that friends are on their way to hell but not saying anything about it to them. “Be Alright” says that Jesus didn’t die so we could have fun and be comfortable, reminding us that all our false gods will pass away “and that will have to be alright with you.” Usually the art crowd does not tolerate such blatantly Christian lyrics, but if Danielson can get away with it, maybe Jay Tholen can do the same.

Overall: If you like Joy Electric and Danielson, do yourself a favor and download a free copy of Control Me, because it is a thick blend of elements from each of those artists. If you only like one of those bands, or if you’re simply intrigued by something I’ve said above, it’s still worth a listen. The worst that could happen is you wasted five minutes (or 42 minutes, if you listen to the whole thing before deciding you don’t like it).

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