While he previously recorded with Funk Monsters and Women, among others, only very recently, earlier this year, did he release his first solo CD, “Control/Career,” on Rachael’s Owl Music/Electric Owl Works Records. I am really enjoying this CD, with all performances by Redding. It sounds like great old school synthesizer based alternative music (at times you can hear some Electroman influence, not surprising since Redding created and performed a rock opera on the late, great Mark Freeland), and I write that in the best sense possible. Synths and keyboards sound like synths and keyboards, and not like they are trying oh, so hard to sound like other instruments. Rough edges are left in, when vocals need to be treated and/or distorted they are, and Autotune would be a travesty and is not present here.
The CD starts off with the strong, mid-tempo “Red Hearts and Black Hearts,” with somewhat bouncing synths and a higher-pitched melodic keyboard joined by sampled vocals repeating “Haile Selassie,” all over a steady dance rhythm. “AT-54 The Electron Sampler” is a warning against control and manipulation of access to information and people by technology and the media. Musically, it has a more ominous sound, with thicker keyboards and a more martial rhythm. “Today” features majestic, thick and strident synths as Redding sings of living in the moment, controlling anger that is simmering inside. He notes that he controls it for now, but…
“Astronaut” is very fast-paced, with keyboards and vocal samples (including one of Public Enemy’s Chuck D) joined by a guitar synth melody. Redding wants to be above and beyond the fray, control and surveillance of everyday life and apparent law enforcement/the state. “Wide Asleep” is a less frenetic song, smoother but still urgent lyrically, with Redding guaranteeing that while people crossing him won’t necessarily get their just desserts today, he will pay them back double for their transgressions. On “Don’t You Drink the Water,” Redding uses a reggae/island style beat to illustrate how international conglomerates and monied interests ruin less “developed” areas through pursuit of money and causing/dumping of pollution and wastes. “The Devil’s Bedroom” is another major up-tempo synth dance-oriented song over sounds of bedroom activity and possible warnings of people using sex as power, domination and manipulation.
While I mentioned that synthesizers and keyboards are allowed to sound like themselves and not like imitations of other instruments, people should realize that this is a well put together and sounding recording, recorded and mixed by Redding and produced and mastered by Charles H. Root III at Electric Owl Works in South Wales. There is also some very cool cover artwork courtesy of Craig Larotonda of Revolution Gallery on Hertel Avenue in Buffalo.
“Control/Career” can be obtained from Redding at his live shows, and is also available on Google Play, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Prime, and either is or will be soon be available at Revolver Records, Frizbees, and Revolution Gallery.