GREG HERZENACH - Music For Headphones - ALBUM REVIEW





GREG HERZENACH

Music For Headphones

Venice, CA, United States



Music for Headphones by Greg Herzenach is just that; his debut album is creative, fun and full of interesting and subtle shifts in instrumentals and vocals that you will only capture whilst being intimate with the music. Music for Headphones is a genre I would call Strange-Pop, taking musical influence from jazz, synth, 70s pop and even hip hop, all the while keeping a casual vocal balance with harmonies not uncommon in Tim Burton musicals. It is undeniably strange and because of this, dutifully wonderful.


‘Day’ opens us up. A drone fills the silence and we wait for another synthetic instrument to join the fray, maybe percussion, a chipper bass drum perhaps. Nope, an acoustic guitar saunters in and strums with a casual campfire vibe, they clash and yet are harmonic. It’s close to dark and the vocals are lit in the gloom. Then a piano strikes and the song begins its slow evolution. The piano takes over and the vocals come together into something that’s Beatles-ey in its construction but completely new when it comes to everything else. Midway, it gets even stranger as surf guitar is drowned out by dark waves before we return to the verse from out of nowhere. It climbs again, the lyrics are painting daunting imagery before one more shift into a synth-filled space full of layered vocals and melodies.


The whole album is like this, ever-changing. Like looking through a kaleidoscope of songs yet hearing only one and it's brilliant. I get an intense Ween influence and it works a treat. ‘A Little Chagrin’ is up next and starts funky but as we know, that doesn’t foreshadow the rest of the track. It moves to jazzy and then adds some electric harmonies and dark synths. What’s that? Yes, house drum beats join the party. And it all works, delivering a beat that’s complete in every way, full of funky strum patterns and oscillating waves of bass.


Greg Herzenach brings us back to the natural world with ‘Neath the Hill’ by focusing on acoustic guitar as we open. The song is dreary and bleak. It reads like a rainy day, and with a great set of headphones (pull out your best set for this album, the ones in the wooden box) you can catch a rumbling in the deep like the soundscape sprung a leak and it's somewhat unnerving. The bright harmonies and impressive guitar talent keep us afloat, however, and buy us time to hear what the rest of Music for Headphones has to offer.


‘AlseT’ begins as strange as it continues, with feedback and jazz guitar tones. The melody takes emotional dives, going from happy to solemn at the drop of a hat. Only to pick back up again, just as it gets too dark. A string medley sews a dark net around the song, a spooky-sounding chorus of sounds that would pack the instrumental of an old horror movie, one in black and white where the villain was a gentleman with gills. Like the rest of the album ‘AlseT’ gives me a feeling like Stockholm Syndrome. Its darker shifts and tones make it almost daunting to listen to and yet you are lured back in by some jazzy chord progressions, or catchy vocal melodies. Then it shifts again. I am in love with the sound. I've listened to the album three times over and I’m still discovering new intricacies.


Music for headphones deserves a novella, and it needs one to describe all of the sounds Greg Herzenach delivers. The Beatles-like vibes of ‘The Sand Reckoner’ the dark almost nirvana start to ‘Amnesia’ which breaks away to a bluesy country sound. I would have said that couldn’t be done but Herzenach has proved us all wrong. Then ‘Night Ship’, a melody medley and harmonic masterpiece that is bolstered by a brilliant bass line.


Just before we close with the breakout song on the album, ‘A Simple Way’ Greg slows us down with ‘Heavy Rain’ an acoustic instrumental that showcases his instrumental musicality and how refined it can be. ‘A Simple Way’ is the earworm of the album. Listener beware, this song will be with you for days. Music for Headphones is a music lover’s wet dream. It takes from the masters of tone and songwriting and gets utterly weird with it. Not enough Ween in your life? Head over to Greg Herzenach’s, he’s got you covered.