Peter Kris, ‘Jacumba’

Posted by on September 25, 2017


Power Moves Library, 4.3.17

It’s been a real pleasure hearing the evolution of German Army co-founder Peter Kris as a solo artist. Kris has expressed before that his solo music originally stemmed from an interest in creating his own soundtracks for driving or travel. Instrumental and mostly focused on dreamy guitar textures left out in the sun, this music really seems a fine companion to a fast-moving car, a sort of aural equivalent to the steamy road mirage always waiting ahead on hot summer highways.

Peter Kris albums have employed two distinct compositional approaches. Some like Nunavut focus on looped, tuneful structures, creating short song-forms similar to much of the GeAr discography, while others like Sprawl and Sky are through-played, with overdriven guitars brushing against feedback and drone. The latest disc, Jacumba, blends both approaches into a satisfying narrative, with song titles alluding to a trip along the California coastline from south of San Diego to just north of San Francisco, pausing for trail exploration along the way.

But even in moments of apparent recreation, Kris has a cutting eye for social criticism. This music is not a document of sandy beaches and spring breaks. Instead, it concerns itself with the remnants of earlier civilizations, those that occupied the mountains and low deserts of California — juxtaposed against the encroaching ruins of the American Dream, found at the outskirts of west-coast prosperity. Kris photographs many of his findings, some of which were notably collected in a striking booklet for the deluxe edition of his Rim of the World cassette, and two of his photos adorn Jacumba as well. The cover art is a sobering reminder of the similarities between lost and dying cultures of the world, and the forgotten pockets of society within the United States. It captures a scene that could almost represent Roman ruins, if not for the discarded cinder blocks in the foreground.

If you were hoping for a physical edition, it was over before it began — Jacumba sold almost instantly in preorder at the Power Moves Library Bandcamp page. But if you’re ready to hit the road, you can still snag the digital version and roll your own CD or cassette. Just remember to bring a map, and leave no trace.