Frank Rosaly, Centering and Displacement LP

I've heard people say, in all earnestness, that they have never had to be challenged by music, that they've never had to "work" to appreciate a song, album, or performance. To each his own, I guess, but these seems lazy and ignorant, to me. This implies that if something does not immediately grab you, for whatever reason, you just move on? I personally can not imagine my relationship with music being as superficial as that. And this record, Centering and Displacement, by Chicago drummer/artist/composer Frank Rosaly is an excellent case in point.

I've been exploring and indulging a seemingly unquenchable thirst for experimental music over the past couple of months, and I've listened to a lot of weird, unclassifiable, experimental forms of music in my 36 years, but this stands as one of the more abstract pieces of music that I've heard, at least in recent memory. At first, it seems quite minimal, but the more I listen to this, the more I hear, and the easier it becomes to recognize just how complex it is and exactly how much is happening on this record. The core of the sounds are produced by drums, other forms of percussion, and electronics. But that's certainly not all of it; there is a vibe, a rhythm to the music that seems to stand outside of the percussion and electronics (especially on side B, but certainly present on side A, albeit in a different form) that propels this music forward, that makes it hard to deny.

I honestly didn't get it at first; the record seemed rather incoherent and random, but after repeated listens and attempts to dig deeper than the surface level of the music, I finally pulled that rhythm out of the ether and really grasped it. At that point, I had to ask myself why I hadn't heard it before. It seemed so obvious and inescapable.

This is why I think it's really important to struggle with music sometimes, especially when the first few listens just leaves you confused. I could easily have cast this aside and said it wasn't for me, but the fact that this is being released by Keith Utech made me come back to it time and again; as far as I can tell, the man's never released a record that wasn't outstanding. And that told me that there must be something there, even if I didn't see it at first. I'm not saying you have to always trust other people (least of all me), but sometimes you really have to give some of yourself to a record so that it gives back to you. Sit through it, try to understand it, try to learn something from it. I did that with Centering and Displacement, giving it a lot of my time, and it's turned out to be quite rewarding.

It's easy to love something when it just reaches out and takes you in. But it's just as rewarding, perhaps even more so, to be challenged by something, to accept the challenge, step up to it, and emerge victorious.

This LP, pressed on black vinyl in an edition of 300, comes with a CD version of the album, and is available now with other new releases from the perpetually reliable Utech Records.

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