Sometimes you need a big soundtrack to pull your life from out of the depths; I found that soundtrack a few weeks ago at the Kitty Cat Klub Music of the End of Times’ night with Reverence (aka Jordan Reyes).
Reverence is an A Capella industrial performer who uses his own voice (live) and looping to present a modern opera that gets progressively darker and deeper. The performance opens with a dystopian doowop. It’s oddly soothing with lyrics that are about as comforting as the first five minutes of a horror film. That moves to a beat box drive with a church incantation that evolves into a Gregorian chant out of the catacombs. It’s otherworldly and yet grounding. The penultimate act is aggressive but controlled. And the final chapter is a denouement of spent, uncontrolled aggression echoing from beyond. (You can hear parts of the performance on Sound Cloud: “I Will Be Pure”, “Rehearsal Sermon” and “I Take Drugs to Leave Bed to Take Drugs”.)
I listened to the set nonstop for days. There’s a pop appeal that balances the depth. Because I became obsessed with the music, I had to meet the man. It’s a risk but I wasn’t disappointed; in fact my appreciation of the music grew. Within minutes of meeting Reverence (Reyes), he used the perfect word to describe my experience of his music – redemption. He plays music that gets you out of your head and closer to a better place.
Hailing from Los Angeles, DC, Chicago, North Carolina, and Miami, Reverence is currently living in Owatonna, Minnesota. He grew up house of mixed but looming religions – Evangelical and Catholic. I don’t know why the religious background surprised me – his music is edgy religious like only someone from the inside could play it. He’s young but has a popular songwriter’s tale. Church background. Learned piano as a kid. Got into musical theater and performance in high school. Tried folk music at 21. Went away to college, got into drinking, got out a drugs around a girl. Awoke from that trance and wrote two good songs. A start!
Reyes remains sober. At 24, he moved to Miami. He played industrial for the first time but kept an interest in pop songs. It may sound like a contrast but like sweet and sour, I think industrial and pop are a familiar combination in some clubs. It’s the depth of the unabashedly and not ironic religious overtones that add a harsh gospel taste to his music. He’s in Minnesota for a while but plans to tour next year. (He’s playing at Kitty Cat Klub on November 19.)
Reyes is clearly smart and driven. He plays mostly alone because he doesn’t trust people to do his music. That control drives his music but I think his current – industrial, harsh, dystopian – genres bring him to the brink of losing that control. That leads to the redemption, the catharsis, for the audience. It’s a guttural response as much as an aural one. He says the central theme in the music is the experience of being uncomfortable in your own – or really any – skin. The recognition of primal and carnal desires. There is something very sexual about his playing; he called it an underlying queerness. That is there, but also it’s an overt sexuality that hints at the crack in control that is both appealing and frightening.
~By Ann Treacy, Photo Credit Nikki Sneakers