At its heart, Jeff Zagers’ latest endeavor is a pastoral roll through the rust of Southern disarmament. A charming patient, passing strange through ghosts and tropes and curios with nowhere to go and no reason to be except that he is and always has been for as long as he can remember. Hisses click and moan something like amber soul. Cruise ship jazz, almost. Then heartache. Hope? Madness. Pain. Chaos.
Regardless of its essence, Still / Alive is very much a tale of two sides. The first, “Still” plays in and around a junkyard of pop conventions: turning loose, organic instruments and disciplined synthetics into a glacial, humane pave that leads cautiously and with great affection towards the breathtaking knell of “A Hole to Hollow” which is nothing short of a shotgun dream made flesh and homilies.
“Alive” is bit of a cur, focusing almost exclusively on keys and effects which rifle and ramble through the concrete stew of gloom culture like a toad-sick youth and though it certainly retains many of the polemics that make “Still” resonate as such a shamelessly verdant effort, its solemn turn to the abyss is a little alienating.
But it’s a perfect complement, really. The foul truth of ambergris. The yang to the yin or vice versa or whatever duality play you prefer to grease up your holistic headgear to better chew life’s rich plume of bittersweet fruits.
And it could easily fit in with the current milieu of locked and lonely systems writ for subway cars and surling shitfaced down Caucasian streets at luck’s end but when set to wax it is liberated and vital in its play against the AM dreamscapes of its counterweight.
All this is to say that while considered in convenient formats, Jeff Zagers’ Still/Alive is a fine potpourri of weirdness and prodigy that hops aesthetics with an effortless purse but when delivered at 33 RPM, the record breathes and becomes a thing of confounding beauty.
Still / Alive Tracklist:
1. The Double
3. A Nimbus
4. To Replenish
5. A Hole to Hollow
6. Neighbors Knock
7. A Dog and Dentist
8. Still Alive
9. Mind Step
10. Glow of Wine
12. A Growing Interest