Bless the unknown musician who, despite a constant output of musical creation thrown to the wind unheard, continues to burrow through the icy and crowded stream of pop culture with his latest, soon-to-be unheralded collection of songs.
Al Kryszak, creator and frontman of Buffalo, NY-based alt-rock outfit REV, is one such musician. With four full-length REV albums and several classical music and silent film score recordings distributed from his one-man operation, Kryszak continues to produce and release fiercely independent music that goes largely unheard.
His first alt-rock solo album, Lullabies for People Who Don’t Need Sleep, is an intricately woven but wildly stitched pattern of acoustic composition, adorned with a light arrangement of sparse background collage that supports the subtlest, and often sweetest, of melodies.
The lingering melody rises above the low hum and rattle of an industrial soundscape in the somber “Shadow of a Coal Plant.” Kryszak’s gentle acoustic plucking and a swirling, decidedly ’70s-style church organ paint a lovingly polluted blue grey sky over a dominating watchful coal plant. It’s a sad, nearly resigned protest song set in a post-apocalyptic-like urban wasteland where citizens work their cancer-causing impossible gardens “in the shadow of the coal plant.” It is the outstanding track on this album.
The organic acoustic compositions, at times adorned with low-key techno arrangements, snake through a jungle path of urban and emotional angst that finds modern blight suffocating the artist sadly strumming his guitar at its center. Album opener “Declare Nothing” is a downcast of anger with overdubbed vocals and altering guitar riffs. It finds the composition of music and its empty reception, a lifestyle where “talking to the mynah bird” is the art of writing a song.
Elsewhere, things get a bit more cheery. “The Rock I Came From” is a funky acoustic jam that explores the genre of rock music, or existence itself, as a rapidly disappearing entity where flowers still grow. “Trying to Remember” is a warm slice of dreamy psych music with the slightest detection of an old Neil Diamond guitar chord at its base.
One gets the impression that when Kryszak touches upon musical nirvana, such as the peaceful plateau he reaches on “Trying to Remember,” the field is ripe for further exploration. But he quickly moves up the path, searching for another riff or melody, as if snuffing out any commercial weeds he finds growing in his garden. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. It makes for wildly creative music, but you may want to linger a little longer on the breezy summit of “Trying to Remember,” which is just over two minutes long.
Lullabies for People Who Don’t Need Sleep is a little rough around the edges. The naked, likely first-take vocals are sometimes harsh, when you know he can sound better, as he does support his own voice with background vocals. It is his choice for the organic sound of the recording, a precious expression of a genuine artist.