Jeremy Harris is the American noise scene's most freewheeling sonic drifter. Under his Lazy Magnet guise he's left behind a long and winding trail of tapes, vinyl and compact discs over the last decade. No genre experiment, be it power electronics, underground rock, minimal techno, folk music or heavy metal, seems to be off limits to the guy. He's even made forays into guerilla remixology (track down last year's 138, a cassette-only collection of Misfits edits that's a mind-blitz of epic proportions). In an interview from 2011, fellow noisenik Leslie Keffer remarked that "folks who play 'noise' do so because there are no rules, requirements or expectations to always be a certain way. They will always explore and interpret all genres. It's what makes them and the genre unique." This may be truer of Lazy Magnet than anyone else from the scene.
In typical fashion, Acts Without Error is a sprawling song cycle that traverses vast terrain both aesthetically and psychologically. Not unlike a William Burroughs novel (Cities of the Red Night comes to mind), its construction at first blush feels a bit random. It's only after repeated spins that the complex relations between its myriad components really snap into focus. Consisting of a single, sprawling synth-drone split into three movements ("SCI Pro One," "Philadelphia, PA," and "September 2010"), side A is the sound of Harris descending into pure psychic zero: 19-plus minutes of an eerily wailing air-raid siren buried at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. Eventually, a clanging groove emerges, one whose distant lurch and throb wouldn't sound at all out of place on Pre-Cert Home Entertainment.
The trio of tracks on side B definitely seems informed by Wierd Records and Italians Do It Better. But where those camps sit at the crossroads of post-punk nostalgia and dance floor pragmatism, Harris' vision is far more potently emotional. In fact, he's not unlike Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart in this regard: a singer-songwriter and art-song composer who just so happens to be deeply inspired by synth pop. The three cuts in question are definitely mix-worthy (in particular the coolly melodic "Kraft Durch Freude"), it's just that each one has baroque-like architecture with intensely probing lyrics and painstakingly arranged vocals. Daryl Seaver, who plays with Harris in the group Meager Sunlight, deserves a hearty shout-out here, as she makes key contributions in both departments, especially on the ghostly ambient "Worthy of Worship," wherein her elegantly reverb-dipped voice plays the role of ethereal other to Lazy Magnet's tortured protagonist.
And tortured Harris most certainly is: on "Clear," the side's densest stretch of music, he despairs, "I've lost my way in my work." It's a queer admission for such a prolific artist. But if that's what it takes to create a fantastical record like Acts Without Error, then here's to never finding yourself.
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Tracklist: Lazy Magnet - Acts Without Error 01. SCI Pro One
02. Philadelphia, PA
03. September 2010
04. Worthy Of Worship
06. Kraft Durch Freude