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These People explore unseen forces at work on new EP "In Place of Time"

These People explore unseen forces at work on new EP "In Place of Time"

Yesterday I very nearly lost my credit card, my glasses, and my phone but there were “forces at work” that somehow saved me in each case and no I wasn’t hungover or anything along those lines in fact the night before I’d stayed in and even gone to the gym (!) and no I don’t think I’m going senile yet but still I left my credit card at a lunch spot but luckily discovered it was missing almost right away when I went to buy a coconut donut and a coffee at a well-known chain establishment and then later that evening I left my glasses on the seat of a subway car but thank the heavens realized it seconds later, jumped back into the subway car and grabbed them off the seat and jumped back off only a split second before the doors closed all Indiana Jones-style…

…and then most embarrassing of all I when I was coming back from the show I went to last night I jumped the turnstile at an unattended entrance (hey I figure if the MTA is gonna lay off booth workers and leave stations unattended then when should I pay to ride and how’s that for a justification?!) which really didn’t make sense since there was a homeless guy holding open the service door as a public service (and soliciting tips, naturally!) but instead I went the DIY route in skipping the fair but apparently when I leapt over the turnstile it caused my phone to likewise leap out of my pocket and onto the ground totally unbeknownst to me…

…which the aforementioned man not only retrieved but then he chased me down a couple flight of stairs and was probably calling after me but I had my noise-cancelling headphone on full blast of course and didn’t hear but still he managed to catch up to me on the platform and returned my phone at which point I felt like a complete idiot but also incredibly grateful to this most excellent Samaritan and gave him 20 bucks and sure I coulda saved nearly $20 if I’d simply gone through the door he was holding open and thrown him a little change in the first place but in the end it was worth the expenditure to feel the sense of immense relief I felt at that moment plus to see a rare glimpse of the best in humanity when a total stranger, and one who doesn't have it easy to boot, saves you from your own stupidity…

..and yes I realize this is supposed to be a record review but here’s the clincher of it all because guess what I was listening to on my headphones when I jumped the turnstile and briefly lost my phone—and that’d be new EP by THESE PEOPLE titled In Place of Time (Green Witch Recordings / Parallel Division) and specifically its opening number “Forces At Work,” a song (and an EP) that in my reading is very much concerned with unseen forces at work in the universe even and especially when it appears that the universe (or planet Earth at least) is spinning wildly out of control or to quote directly from the song “a universe of empty space” that despite this emptiness “love[s] to get [a] reaction to test the Will of Man” and hey I’m not sure how I earned the good karma but I’ll take it…

…and THESE PEOPLE further drive the point home musically on the song and the entire EP which opens in medias res sounding like a music box winding down but soon a skittering beat kicks in over which waves of dissonant guitar guitar and textural keyboard ebb and flow like waves breaking on the shore and then pretty quickly the song establishes a more familiar shape but still with the lapping waves of sound underneath the surface and then about half way through there’s a breakdown part that goes on for a full minute with congas and tom tom fills and more waves of textural sounds and angular guitar…

…and overall I’m digging the crystalline, ‘80s-reminiscent production work on this EP and when I say “‘80s-reminiscent” I’m thinking specifically of records by people like Peter Gabriel, Todd Rundgren, and Adrian Belew at their most art-damaged and most off-kilter-pop inclined simultaneously and along these lines “Forces At Work” and the rest of the EP are full of crystalline chiming guitars and all sorts of other timbral sound-painting not to mention a logic-defying combination of head-bobbing funk and chin-stroking art rock and not to mention the philosophical yet semi-abstract lyrics at hand…

…and not to mention how the EP is both a bit chaotic sonically but also how air-tight controlled it comes across as when you really pay attention like a there’s a steady, invisible hand behind the seeming messiness on the surface which only gets amplified on the following tracks, the first of which truly does have “Levels” especially when it comes to the crazy rhythms unpinning the whole thing which slip almost imperceptibly (warning: basic music theory ahead!) between duple to triple time…

…and then next “Mind Reading” opens with some brief textural noise before a loping groove enters alternating between 5/4 and 4/4 and when the gently keening vocals enter it shifts into your basic triple time (3/4 or compound 6/8 meter if you prefer!) and finally on “Past Tense” we get treated to a chorus (mostly) in 7/4—for those who don’t know “time signatures” this is why it sounds off-kilter/left-of-center/angular—plus the vocal line is consistently sung ahead of or perhaps behind the beat (either way it’s “just out of time” but in which sense?!) so that the whole thing feels like a spinning top careening precariously, but somehow never tipping over, or maybe more like a hapless guy who keeps losing all his sh*t but having it handed back to him by the universe thanks to unseen forces at work and if it’s all “a great cosmic joke” then at least it’s a good one. (Jason Lee)

And here's a little insider insight into the band should you want it...!

Official short Bio: These People is the solo project of Long Beach, NY producer and songwriter TJ Penzone. The project began after his former band Men, Women & Children (Warner Bros / Reprise Records) disbanded. These People has a constant rotation of musicians with the songs primarily written, recorded, and produced by Penzone, with additional instrumentation, production, and artwork by his brother Rick Penzone (Color Film, Richard Flesh). Soundscapes, and additional guitar by James Usher (Edison Glass, Heavy duty super Ego).

Quote from the Artist: I made the structure for "Levels" while I was trying to learn George Harrison’s “I'd Have You Anytime”. I just kept playing the first two chords over and over, changing rhythms, and adding more chords until it just evolved into its own thing. This one was incredibly fun / tedious to record and mix. -Tj Penzone

Published: November 03, 2022 |

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