Jason Willett – The Sounds of Megaphone Unlimited

Jason Willett
The Sounds of Megaphone Unlimited

“Free punk,” the tag Jason Willett applies to these sonic experiments, sticks. The 20 tracks on The Sounds of Megaphone Unlimited function as slices of random arrangements and playing that can only loosely be termed songs at all. Willett may be something of a madman when it comes to songwriting – or at least a guy whose ADHD has gotten the better of him.

There’s no denying that Willett has made his contributions to music with other projects (Can Openers, Pleasant Livers, and so on), but this record challenges the listener in new ways. I’m not sure who would or could subject himself to wading through all of the cuts on Megaphone in one sitting, as scattered and shambolic as they are. The instrumentation is all over the place: keyboard bleeps, odd percussion, a little guitar…and it’s all paired with shouting or stream-of-consciousness speaking/singing. It’s hard to discern any real development of ideas here apart from the idea of driving the listener insane. That seems to be the intention, so it’s actually a compliment to state this. Mission accomplished!

One man’s white elephant is another’s treasure, though, and where some hear noise and indulgence another will hear the germs of great concepts. It’s like when you have a kid make a painting and put it next to, say, a work from some avant-garde artist’s work. Most won’t be able to tell the difference and even the critic’s reactions function more like a Rorschach that say more about himself than anything the artist intended. That said, Megaphone certainly pushes the boundaries but the resulting cacophony doesn’t seem to get anywhere, apart from the Jad Fair collaboration on track 12 – that one didn’t make my ears bleed.