Back in February we featured Rochester band Gay Angel, a gang of musicians with eccentric and experimental tendencies, led by Jake Bellissimo, who pins things together with his unique brand of near-the-knuckle honesty and vulnerability. The band are currently in the midst of a mammoth project, a 100-song album entitled Floral, which the band are releasing in four 25-song parts, or “bouquets”. If twenty five songs seem a little excessive for a single release, then don’t fear, many of the songs are merely fragments, many clocking in at under a minute, which I guess are the petals to the bouquet. The band’s job is not unlike that of a flower arranger, positioning these sprigs and sprays just so, creating a collage-like mass that comes together to form an over-arching narrative. The overall effect is not unlike that of the Lewtrakimou side of the split album we featured recently, i.e. very fun to listen to and increasingly rewarding over time.
The album kicks off with a sound clip from a Valentine’s Day advertisement, complete with a little kids wishing you a “HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! (yuck!)”, before getting into the music proper. Like Pt. 1, this is a surprisingly cohesive blend of orchestral chamber pop and lo-fi, DIY bedroom recording. ‘Growing Leaves’ is wordy and impassioned, sounding not unlike Nana Grizol or Defiance, Ohio, as Bellissimo yelps lines such as “I wish I could still drive a fucking car without being afraid of what I see on the road”. This is followed by the amp-frying lo-fi of ‘On A Screen’, and then the comparatively breezy ‘I Made Peace’, which contains the line, “I made a mistake, I downloaded the first season of the Golden Girls instead of the Gilmore Girls. I got the wrong girls, and it’s not a big deal, it’s just the little mistakes are the ones that annoy me.” This would stand out on any album, but even more so here as it precedes, ‘I Have A Flower’, a song quite literally from the past. Incredibly, the song was written by Bellissimo’s great-grandfather, and this is the original recording made in the 30s by him and his friends. It’s a bona fide love song:
“I have a flower for you to wear. It is a flower so sweet and fair. Never a garden it knew. Never the sun, never the dew.
It never looked at the blue sky, this flower I give to you cannot die. You may throw it away, you may tear it apart. ’tis not a flower, ’tis my heart.”
The rest of the album is equally as varied – ‘Letter to Brazil’ details a period Bellissimo spent in Brazil as a teenager and sounds almost like doo wop, while ‘I Won’t Take Ecstasy’ is pretty sad, containing the line, “I wish I had someone to make the bad parts of my life not seem so bad.” Add to that ‘J. Robert Oppenheimer’, a pseudo-biographical account of the father of the atomic bomb and ‘In Flight’, with its oddly surreal guitar and bursts of ominous mechanical noise: “Last night I fell into a hole”, Bellissimo sings, “I thought it was an episode of The Twilight Zone.” The album also contains several instrumental interludes, including two botanically named piano tracks (‘An Orchid’ and ‘A Tulip’) and two which rely on the unmistakable sound of an organ (one of which, the final track, clocks in at over 24 minutes!). There are further eccentric flourishes, such as ‘Whose Fault It It?’, which sounds like a weird vocal test, and ‘Music Is Stupid’, a collection of audio recordings of people saying just that.
Floral Pt. 2 is nothing if not original, the sound of one creative mind expressing itself in the most maximalist way imaginable. It’s difficult not to admire Bellissimo’s bravery, his insistence on doing exactly what he wants in his art. Let’s hope he doesn’t take too long in releasing Pt 3!