Public Speaking: Grace Upon Grace CD

Sensual slow-jams about the appeal of the political messiah figure. Dark ballads of nostalgia for a mysterious, mythic past. Disturbing love songs to a fascist dictator. Electronic compositions of piano and processed acoustic sounds that construct a Futurist longing for an iron hand to reach down and violently transform one's world. Public Speaking's "Grace Upon Grace" is the result of modern historical and biblical research that explores humanity's vulnerability to demagoguery in politically fractured, desperate times. The album includes the serialized short story "P.S.", mailed to the listener in five weekly installments.

The project of Brooklyn sound artist and songwriter Jason Anthony Harris, Public Speaking has created albums that conflate soulful crooning with noise and polyrhythmic concept music. "He crafts coherent songs out of abstract processes and R&B from the tools of noise with the assured vision of an expert," wrote Experimedia. Fabrica Records brought his debut "Blanton Ravine" in 2013, and he has released material on Fabrica, Floordoor, Already Dead, and Tape Drift. The instrumental album "Within Patterns" was named one of A Closer Listen's top ten experimental albums of 2014. After several records exploring improvisation, ambient soundscapes, and other instrumental approaches, Harris' music has grown increasingly song-based. Tiny Mix Tapes compared 2016's "Caress, Redact" to the soulful noise of How to Dress Well and Autre Ne Veut. The Deli Magazine has described Public Speaking's style as "soul music functioning as 21st century meditation."

"Grace Upon Grace" is a collection of five vocal songs, and five instrumental versions that highlight the guitarist's and saxophonist's contributions. For Harris, a staunch atheist with a fascination for the myths and influence of Christianity: "The groupings of five evoke the 'five offerings' in the book of Leviticus, and the five wounds of Christ. The ten tracks together parallel the ten commandments, and their separation into five regarding the relationship of man to God, and the other five that of man to man. I cannot help but compare these constructs of meaning and obedient monotheism with the centralized role of authoritarian presidents, tyrants, and dictators." The short story that accompanies the album draws from the biblical tale of Abraham and Isaac, Søren Kierkegaard, and the current American socio-political landscape. It is indirectly, but thematically linked to the music.

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