Darren Callahan – Break Fix Anniversary

Darren Callahan
Break Fix Anniversary

Darren Callahan has been releasing music for years, and as a consummate musician, he feels no need to stick to preconceived notions or any individual style. Although all musicians are likely influenced by what other people want to hear, Callahan has shown great diversity in his career. He’s been in a number of bands or projects, releasing music that’s pure pop in one, electro-ambient in another, experimental jazzy-rock in another, and so on. Now, to mark his 10th full-length release (although he’s had over 20 releases in all), this album draws from all of the various projects he’s been involved in.
That diversity may make Break Fix Anniversary a bit disconcerting for someone who hasn’t heard his music before. A few songs are placed in order from one particular project, and just when you get comfortable, the style is likely to change as the projects changed. However, a compilation such as this isn’t meant to sound cohesive; all the songs came from very different periods and different motivations. What this is is an introduction to an artist who revels in his diversity – he’s also an author with several novels, screenplays, and other works.
As an introduction, the biggest flaw on this release is the labeling. You can find out much more about the songs on Callahan’s well-updated website, but someone who comes across this and enjoys one track will not easily know from which band/album it came. The listing of songs in a row gives the impression that these are all the works of Callahan, when many are from full band projects. So as an introduction, it succeeds in presenting a widely varied view of Callahan’s music but perhaps not in helping a listener track down the appropriate area.
Callahan notes that he deliberately chose these songs because they are more pop-oriented, and after hearing some of his other work, I can tell you that many of his other songs are less accessible if no less enjoyable. Without talking about all of the projects he’s been involved in, there are several projects that stand out. From the experimental jazz-noise-spoken word project Travel, he offers the ultra-smooth “A Birthday of Hooks” and the wacked-out cool “Dad’s Abstract Prescription Pad.” Out of the more pop-rock-focused Oo Oo Wa comes the Bowie-esque “Train Robber,” the slick, poppy “Godliness,” the Guided By Voices-esque “Lightning Round,” and the playful, bouncy “An End to This.”
There are some similarities between the more moody and ambient projects Teenage Blackout and Telegraph, with standouts here being the spacey “The Working Model of a Boy,” the dreamy “Not My Airplane,” and the wonderful, melodic “Kiss Till We Crash.” Then there are the assorted extras, like the fuzzed-out guitar-pop of “Here Come the Bugs” from the band Seven Speed Vortex and “Solid State,” recorded under Callahan’s own name, which is a nice rock instrumental.
So yes, this is a scattered album, but that’s to be expected. Still, it’s a nice introduction to a talented musician and worth picking up just to see if you might enjoy some of the other projects he worked with.