Review – “A Big Download” – Reiki Share

a big download

reviewed by Michael Thomas

It’s interesting that Benjamin Schillaci describes this work as Reiki Share as not his own. Instead, he says on his Bandcamp page, his songs are a result of “universal downloads.” He also says “bless all the guiding spirits that unlocked these puzzles before me.” What exactly is a universal download? Who knows, but his many downloads resulted in something ever-changing, often astonishing and feeling like something wholly different than the sum of its parts.

There are so many lyrical moments that kind of blew my mind. Some of these moments are like zen koans, like when early in “We’re Cycling” Schillaci sings “Is there a gun that turns stores into gardens?/Just when your Play-Doh thoughts harden.” A hypothetical that abstract isn’t likely to cross anyone’s mind and is a lot to think about. Musically, Schillaci is a chameleon, sometimes finding a home in folk but more often just experimenting to see what works best.

“Surrendurr” is a good example of how he changes as many times as he needs to. Starting with a psychedelic guitar and a hell of an opening salvo (“Are you ashamed to say that you cried to a Goo Goo Dolls song?”), we eventually land in a tropical melody and lyrics about nature. “No Memory Card” channels nostalgia for old video games with the odd swell of keys. Once again, it’s incredible how he links so many disjointed images together: “A Final Fantasy on pause all night/A birthday with no memory card.”

If there’s one thing I’ve become a sucker for it’s a quiet song that turns loud without warning, and “Art Attack” and “We’re Cycling” both have that in spades. The former has Schillaci strumming an acoustic guitar quickly and repeating “One big art attack,” but later in the song we suddenly get thundering percussion. After the koan about guns creating gardens, the song suddenly gets almost suffocatingly dense with sound, and Schillaci eventually asks, “Who’s really a friend or just looking for a parking spot?”

The brilliantly titled “Ojerk” (pronounced “circle jerk”) throws in zillions of ideas over almost six minutes, talking about the relationship between younger and older brothers, “an ever-boring circle jerk” and a long sample of a woman talking about dreams and the unconscious.

There’s tons more delightful weirdness in this album of universal downloads, from Schillaci’s “money’s gangrene legs” line to the lo-fi humming in the background of “Free Transform.” As you meditate more and more on this album, it will probably unlock itself to you and you can take on the bigger problems in your life.

Top Tracks: “Surrendurr”; “Ojerk”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good) + *swoop*

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