Accelera Deck: Live, Volume I

Accelera Deck: Live, Volume II

Accelera Deck: Live, Volume III

As sonically encompassing as Accelera Deck's Ipsissima Vox and Pop Polling are, they're dwarfed by the 103 minutes of 2003-05 live performances spread across these three discs. It's the most challenging collection of AD material by Chris Jeely to date, with the fearless provocateur sculpting seething monoliths of noise, offset by some carefully placed moments of relative quietude. Fans of Jeely's guitar work should know that his six-string playing hardly dominates, with the material more heavily weighted towards pure electronics.

The overall mood is established in the first volume's fifteen-minute opener, a blistering, howling take on “Dross” (from the Sunstrings EP) that, in its most aggressive moments, recalls the work of Florian Hecker or Peter Rehberg. It's not wholly tumultuous, however, as less harrowing passages offer respite from the sounds of machinery writhing in agonized death throes. At certain moments, the piece resembles the amplified sound of mating rats, or what you'd hear if someone shoved a microphone up a pig's snout. The subsequent calm after the storm draws upon Ipsissima Vox's quieter material with placid guitar strums carving a path through less harsh electronic terrain.

At forty-five minutes, disc two is the longest of the trio, with the opening set (recorded at The Black Cat in Washington, DC) the most savage. Jeely sculpts an annihilating cauldron of violent blasts and ruptures, though again relief arrives via calmer passages of industrial scurries and rumbles, with some country-tinged picking even appearing before feedback-drenched howl again darkens the mood. The second set evocatively conjures a peaceful outdoors setting before segueing into stuttering fields of sputter and splatter, the sum-total a similarly alien if less incinerating landscape than the opener.

The most conventionally 'listenable' and guitar-heavy of the three (the chiming guitar sound in an early section even hints at Tears for Fears' “Everybody Wants To Change the World”— coincidence, surely), the half-hour third volume begins with a stately unfurl of pealing guitars and then moves through a darker episode anchored by a dramatic four-note theme before returning to the same elegiac unfurl with which it began; there's even a drums-guitar hoedown of sorts, though the sound is so muddy the drums largely disappear into the blurry undertow.

Yes, the sets are challenging, intense, and exhausting and sometimes resemble music to slit your wrists by. Yet while they're fiercely experimental and uncompromising, they're also far from unmusical, even during their most extreme moments. My advice? Listen to all three in one sitting at the highest possible volume in order to achieve the most complete Accelera Deck experience.

December 2005