#20. Absofacto – All The Songs
If a tree falls in a forest If a band makes a great record, and no one gives it a glowing review, is it still a great record?
In 2008, Ypsilanti’s Mason Proper released their third album, Olley Oxen Free, to what essentially amounted to critical deaf ears (or just plain lazy reviews). The album (and band) shuffled about the B-list indie band circuit, doing the promotional due diligence, and then eventually resigned to putting their efforts on the shelf for the time being. Frontman Jonathan Visger, restless and unsatisfied, took to his home studio and proceeded to release some sonic musings digitally under the name Bug Lung Baby. Though mostly fanbait, the tracks served, if nothing else, to illustrate how much of Mason Proper’s throughline was Visger’s vision, and how insatiable his desire to continue making music was.
Well, for those of you that criminally slept on Olley Oxen Free, a para-redemption awaits. Visger, at a loss for bandmates at the ready, opted to continue his solo output, wisely ditching the awkward Bug Lung Baby moniker for the more concise and mysterious Absofacto. Pardon the expression, but “dude got busy”.
At absofacto.com, Visger proceeded to disseminate track after luscious track of the kind of smart, woozy-yet-crisp indie rock that made Mason Proper’s material so engaging. The real feat that he has pulled off here is his remarkable consistency. Visger amassed a total of 21 songs (one acoustic duplicate), filed on the site under “All The Songs”, and for my money, there are only a couple songs that could even be considered filler, while a small handful ring out as instant classics. For you baseball fans, that’s an .857 batting average over 21 at-bats with 4 HR’s. For you (foolish) non-baseball fans, in other words, that’s all kinds of solid.
What’s even better is what Visger brings to the table as an artist. If you go to his site (again, absofacto.com), he has his talented friends at The Silent Giants designing* T-shirts, printing posters, developing art for individual songs. Visger even fulfilled a requests for the aforementioned acoustic version of “Who’s Side Are You On Anyway?”, and hell, he even put the chords for the song up on the site, in case you want to give it a shot yourself. Only stipulation to that? You have to get yourself playing it on video and send it back to him. Sounds fair. Oh, and did I mention all his music is FREE? I mean, he’ll obviously take whatever generous donation you want to offer, but yeah, he’s giving it all away. **
And people, let me tell you, this isn’t some bullshit chillwave band pooping out a demo in GarageBand, running it out through their 4-track, and uploading it to Bandcamp. This record sounds great. People have wasted tens of thousands of dollars in studio time trying to get records that sound like this (trust me, I know). The songs are solid, and many are devious growers, working like ivy into the cracks and grooves of your head over time. Visger could have broken this song collection right down the middle and had two solid packages to peddle to the fickle and manipulated masses, but instead, he’s generously (and potentially wisely) giving it all away to you, the unknowing, as-yet-ungrateful proto-listener.
So what are we really talking about here? Shall I try to describe it for you? Man, I normally do, and it’s not that this music is necessarily beyond description or anything like that, but I guess… I guess if after all of this effusive praise that I’ve piled onto this collection of songs, if you can’t even be bothered to go download it and hear it for yourself… well then I don’t know why you’re even reading this, honestly. Maybe my generically lame RIYL below will give you your desperately needed musical context, but really, wouldn’t it feel good to just go for it and surprise yourself? There’s not even a risk involved, for God’s sake! And if, God willing, you do like it, do like we all used to do back in the 90’s and tell a friend or two about it.
*EDIT: I previously attributed the design to Visger, when in fact it was the work of The Silent Giants.
**2nd EDIT: Since I’m re-linking, I should note that the All The Songs collection is $15 as a package, but each individual track is “name your own price” with no minimum. And, Visger has remastered the first 8 singles from the collection, added two new tracks, and packaged them into an album of sorts called Sinking Islandsfor an even bigger steal at $8. That would be a great place to start…