Label: Truckstop/Atavistic Format: CD, LP
Coming across like Jesus Christ Superstar on (more) acid, Chicago’s favourite Judeo-Christian Edutainer Bobby Conn is out to save your soul and wallet from resisting temptation. Aided in his Millenialist assault on reason by sundry members of (among others) Brise-Glase, Flying Luttenbachers, Rome and the production efforts of Jim O’Rourke, Conn conjours a straight-faced vision of an alternate universe where Seventies meet Nineties. Counterpointed by the string arrangements of Monica BouBou, Rise Up! is a concept album which exhorts America to destroy itself in readiness for the End Times, revelling in the decadence and urging further excess, just to tip the balance towards Apocalypse. That this is is acheived through alarmingly accurate pastiches of Glam Rock, Pop and Soul tunes is remarkable enough, all wrapped up in apparent Christian Right paranoia, but the glossy surface is comprehensively trashed by lines such as “Jesus! he came back/Jesus! High on crack” and the storming Rock-out “United Nations” which has to be heard to be believed.
The flow of ideas from opening sound collage “Twilight of the Empire” via string interludes to soaring, arpeggiated funk numbers has its occasional glitches, but the whole project is carried off by the personality of Conn himself, a diminutive prophet of doom whose soulful delivery conceals a heart of scathing vitriol for the American way of life. Adopting the persona of a street-hustling Jeremiah seething with resentment, Conn and cohorts positively spit energy in their gleeful deployment of hooks, cod-choral trills and drum solos, throwing in a bundle of vibes, organs and extended feedback for good measure. Few records are as kitschadelic or as close to the abyss of overproduction as this contrives to be, but the whole is saved by a tangible sense of almost breathtaking outsider hubris, backed up by an (anti-)Messianic attitude to rival an Evangelical Christian preacher’s. Awesome in its scope, Rise Up! rivals Laibach‘s reappropriation of popular culture for delivering moments which teeter between the appallingly grandiose and the outrageously brilliant.
-Antron S. Meister-