(Photo Credit - David Kitz)
Advance Review - Jesse Kivel: Infinite Jess (November 13, 2020)
“Hey All, We have a couple of new albums to review in November…-Jesse Kivel 11/13 alt/electronic.”
As soon as I read the message, I thought and replied, “I’ll take the Jesse Kivel because I am that type of Jesse.”
If I am being completely honest, I knew nothing about him. Although I write for Alt Revue and try to keep up with the music world, there is so much out there and only so much time. And, as some of you may know, I get stuck on specific artist and/or band. (Doing NaNoWriMo and remodeling my bathroom, I have listened to some Grateful Dead shows from the seventies, just to mentally help me pull it all back together. I’ll tell you, I’ve missed them.) So, listening to and thinking about new music is a pleasure.
Seeing electronic, I thought, Ok, this is going to be that sound that people know I like. However, and I am being very honest here, my first listen to “Burning Man” left me wondering what I was getting myself into. As a writer who has sat through many writing workshops and critiques, I know that negative comments do not help an artist. And I want to help the artist, especially one named Jesse. Therefore, and I would have done this anyway, I shook my initial judgmental opinion and repeatedly listened to Infinite Jess as I put up drywall.
“William.” Ok. I’m slipping into the sound. I’m into the guitar and the repetitive rolling movement. A journey? Who’s William? Questions are good for me.
“Desert, Moonlight” reminds me of the type of music I would hear and love on Apple Music Sunday Chill Playlist. I just had to remember that.
“A Sharper Image” was the moment during the first listen that I thought the album was going to make a turn in direction. Jazz fusion from the seventies? Is the album going more instrumental? I was into the bass.
“Northside” and I realized the mood is created by Jesse Kivel’s voice. This song is upbeat, but…I cannot explain what I am feeling. Is it me or is it the song?
“R & D Kitchen” is when I started to see the musical talent of this man. He brings in a variety of sounds and instruments.
During the last three songs, I quit thinking about the music, and I started thinking about the artist. Who is Jesse Kivel and what does Infinite Jess mean? Is it a play on David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest? And in “R & D Kitchen,” “This is how I get back, to being myself?” And as I listened to the album a second, a third, and a fourth time, I kept thinking about what this musician was searching for.
Infinite Jess might be that eternal self of Jesse Kivel that gets lost or covered by the layers of life. This album could be the way he gets back to being the man he always thought he was or always wanted to be. And it does not matter if the album was a little too slow for me my first listen through. Who am I to question a man who is either trying to find himself again through his music or using his talent to remind himself of the possibilities? Art is selfish—we might have to pull from our own life, experience and self to better understand—but if one of Jesse Kivel’s goals was to help other people look at themselves, then he was successful.
Final Thought: Listen to this album a couple times through during a long drive.
Favorite Songs: “Violent Times,” “A Sharper Image,” and “William”
Rating - 3.7 out of 5