Leslie Keffer – Feels Like Frenching (4.1.08)

Posted on July 28, 2008

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With the right colors splattered over each other, criss-crossing in layers upon layers like the traffic in Blade Runner, a cardboard LP sleeve can look bottomless. Adriane Schramm, New York-based painter and chronicler of the “human electric blood hum,” was given all-star treatment with the pressing of this record. Her intricate painting of swirling, high-contrast clouds of nerve-endings and brain folds plays out in glasslike clarity on the glossy cover of Leslie Keffer’s first release on Ecstatic Peace. Schramm’s work resembles a more elegant version of Brian Chippendale’s Lightning Bolt covers — disparate shapes and colors spinning end over end and typography that flops across the cover like deflated balloons. It’s a fine matching — Schramm’s vast canvasses provide a thoughtful framework for Keffer’s style of wide-lense noise landscapes that spread out like a beach, all uniform from beginning to end with tiny variations for anyone reaching down to sift through a bit here and there. As a whole, the thing sounds like someone mic’d a dustbuster and ran it through a practice amp with the reverb jacked. Certainly not for everyone, but there are slight variations and changes in atmosphere — a wiggle hear, a stutter there — that make the piece an real experience instead of a punchline.

Ecstatic Peace has a long, long history of releases from all over the map, from hand-dubbed cassette tapes with Xeroxed sleeves to mass-distributed CDs in fancy digipaks. This one has a hand in every level of it. A photocopied insert comes with it in black and white with shaky, all-caps writing and with a color photo on the reverse side of Keffer staring at her guitar laid face-up on a table next to gnarly effects boxes and a can of PBR. Combined with the pristine print on the outside and hair-raising waves of noise that pulse from the vinyl, the whole package seems like a dense series of coded subconscious messages sent from some buried cerebral cortex.

[Originally published in Performer Magazine, 4.1.08]

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