Maybe it’s really not a surprise at all that I’m viewing “Approach Lights Three,” the new video from Jeffrey Alexander from his forthcoming Wayfinding Beacons from Planet to Planet, and wondering whether or not I’m tripping actual balls. Alexander – best known as a key player in experimental West Coast acid folk bands, having cut his teeth in the Iditarod (not the race), and going on to perform in scene heavyweights Black Forest/Black Sea and Jackie O Motherfucker – knows his way around luminous guitar and electronics freakouts, and so, watching his video (directed by Caitlin Denny), with its VHS-quality stream of abstract images and seizure-inducing visual oscillation, and paired with this sound, it’s no wonder I’m checking Earl Grey for peyote sign. As if you can even do that!
That’s the experience in a nutshell – close your eyes and whatever it is that plays on the back of your eyelids is what you’ve got going on in this video. And that’s kind of the fun of it – Alexander’s music, for this and also Floating Lights, the free EP he recently dropped in advance of the album, is perfect for that sort of planetarium experience. The freeform ambient guitar excursions are next-level transportative, both for the mind and probably for the body – if of course you’re able to evolve to the point where you can fire yourself through space and time. Which makes it all the more logical that Alexander’s music is being utilized by San Francisco’s The Exploratorium, an educational museum. And you read that right, kids – like Black Francis used to shout, it is, indeed, actually educational. Imagine sounds like these emanating from the most out-there scientific exhibits!
You may wonder how a guy who looks like he belongs in the Marshall Tucker Band (if that’s even him – nice 1970s-era Orioles cowboy hat, by the way! I’m serious!) makes such serious planetarium-gaze (that’s a new genre that I totally made up and you can’t have it). Why don’t you see him live and find out? Or you could just drop the whole thing and love the experience, because what are you, some kind of New Weird America Grinch? You could also go to this thing at The Exploratorium called the Tactile Dome on May 7, a pitch-black maze experience through which Alexander’s tunes will be wafting. Who needs sight, am I right? Especially when you’re running your hands through vats of spaghetti, and your guide tells you it’s full of brains. Wait, that’s Halloween. Uh, mark your calendar! May 7!
I’ve now watched this video like three times in a row. That’s dedication, because it’s eleven minutes long. And although I haven’t ingested anything in the thirty-plus minutes I’ve been immersing myself in this, I still feel like I’m having an out-of-body experience, like I’m hovering over myself as I type these keys and absolutely vibe out to the batshit visuals. I know I’m not tripping, seriously, but it feels like it. You should watch it too, maybe three times in a row, and experience the same wild insterstellar freakout I’ve got going on. Actual balls, I’m telling you!
Jeffrey Alexander on tour:
Apr 21, 2015 Los Angeles, CA – Human Resources
Apr 22, 2015 Los Angeles, CA – (the) Handbag Factory
Apr 23, 2015 Joshua Tree, CA – house party
Apr 26, 2015 San Francisco, CA – Explorist International (4pm)
Apr 26, 2015 San Francisco, CA – Hemlock Tavern (9pm)
Apr 27, 2015 Santa Cruz, CA – beach party
Apr 28, 2015 Berkeley, CA – KALX in-studio (4pm)
Apr 28, 2015 Oakland, CA – Life Changing Ministry (9pm)