Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Mike Gentry
The kinds of screwy places that Alexis Gideon takes us are not of any world that we're familiar with. There is very little that is recognizable in the way or substance of the Portland, Oregon, resident's music. He has, somewhere along the line, had something very weird imprint itself on his mind and it only lets the man cook up the most insane and almost diabolical music that you've heard in a long time. It's sleazy, it's frightening, it's ghetto-y, it's hair-brained, it's addicting, it's odder than a guy with three pinky fingers, it's invested and inventive and it's even a little bit caramel-y. It's just about everything one could fucking imagine a piece of music and a piece of commemorative lyric to be, if one were looking to experience something that was borderline psychotic, but still perfectly accessible. It's just bonkers and amazingly resourceful, taking from every conceivable genre and medium, if one were tabulating such a thing.
Gideon's music is a carnival for every single sensory input that a person has. It's an Olympiad in the ways of linguistics and the countless number of ways that syllables - consonants and vowels, pauses and punctuation - can sound coming out of a mouth, the same mouth, with different bends to the lips, curls to the tongue, exploitations of the windpipe, lung carriage, belly action, etc. Gideon sings/(converses/raps?) like no other performer that you've ever heard. He trails his words into always progressing, sometimes elongated ordeals, never barreling through the pronunciations, but letting them get savored and liquefied in his mouth before exposing them to our ears. He doesn't try to cram anything into tight quarters, but instead occupies as much space and takes his time in claiming it for his own.
The content of his words seems to defy any sort of convention, just flying at us as if he was tossing us an impossibly coded labyrinthine story that would require the tail of a dragon, the eye of a newt and a magic crystal that only Gary Busey knows the location of to decipher. It's a thrilling and mind-blowing experience that favors the free-form methods of Adam Green, but with fewer drug references and less silliness. It's just bizarre, in its own way and it travels down a path all its own - one that splits the difference between the road to Oz and a highway to a land of killer bees, sugar highs, nightmares and mirages.
*Essay originally published December, 2009