Telescopic Eyes Glance the Future Sick is the third digest from John Wilkes Booze, the Bloomington, Indiana six-piece. Marching forth with heft-guitar riffs, mantra shrieking, garbled saxophone, and customary missed notes, the perpetual rhythm eventually collapses to abstraction and absence. An eye to tomorrow, this knowing glance is assimilated from personal divinations in polemic research and oracle gospels. JWB has documented these desperations as a pop-deviated witch trial, referencing a mystified Midwestern rock past with atonal acoustic gestures. All in all, an assembled mass of splattered sound as song.
Recorded from Election Day 2004 through year’s end by Mahan Kalpa (neé Paul Mahern, vocalist of the legendary Zero Boys) at his White Ark Studio in Bloomington, JWB divided the session between splintered rock and their love of classic song structure and improvisation, which has been the foundation of recent tours. Starting the sessions with part-hope, the group quickly grasped the sick future and focused on recent and past societal and cosmic ills. The album opens with an impromptu keening then segues into a side of JWB-sired R&B.
The Booze’s warbling rock fusion has been heralded from hi-to-low-brow from The Wire to Maximum Rock N Roll and all points in between. The previous Five Pillars of Soul album was a explicitly honed concept album, where as Telescopic Eyes hovers on an transcendent plane lyrically and aurally. It is not a political charged slap at today’s administration, more so an overview of feverish attempts and decisions made by many, stretching back to the 1800s through today in the realms of freedom fighting, occult groupings, direct action, and seeing signs in the snakes. “Barker Ranch Blues” and “Always Is Always Forever” is a circular meditation on the possibilities of believing what no one else will.
John Wilkes Booze is Seth Mahern (vocals), Eric Weddle (guitar, electronics, alto saxophone), Chris Barth (bass), John Dawson (lead guitar), Grant Pershing (percussion, hand drums), and Elaina Morgan (organ, vocals, singing bowl, etc.). Formed in 1999 by Mahern and Weddle, John Wilkes Booze has left a battled path of vans and bandmates in its procession while following inspirations from Marryanne Amacher to Pere Ubu, Alice Coltrane to Dredd Foole, to hometown unknowns White Noise. They self-issued a cassette, 7” and five CDR EPs before signing with Kill Rock Stars in 2003. The debut KRS album, Five Pillars of Soul was, for press and fans alike, a flummoxing agglomeration of noise riddled raves-ups and blues hollers connected by a conceptual core detailed in its 10,000 word liner notes. The 300 edition LP, The Heliocentric Views of… (St. Ives) followed in early 2005.