Reputation is restriction in the modern world. News passes through all sorts of channels devoted to bringing people information. The accuracy of this information, while a concern to all involved, is often nebulous, as what often plays a prominent role in reporting may have little bearing on the subject of reportage. Such is often the case when people incur some sort of disability, whether a handicap or fatal disease, and is indeed the case of Okay’s Marty Anderson. Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, many sources report his bedridden state and his dependence upon an IV drip. While this reportage concerns Okay’s prior releases High Road/Low Road, it is nonetheless one of the most documented facts about Anderson.
Knowing of a kid who’s dying from Crohn’s Disease, I imagined Okay’s work would revolve around Anderson’s illness, both practically and artistically. I thought Huggable Dust would be something like light guitar arrangements, throaty vocals, and sparse backing from ProTools instruments; ultimately very low key, lo-fi, and independent.
The music of Huggable Dust obliterated my expectations. The album has little to do with being bound by one’s personal misfortune, and from the music, I wouldn’t guess it to be the product mostly of one person. The instrumentation is wide ranging, cello, glockenspiel, and singing saws all just some of the sounds that grace the album from somewhere up above. These instruments hardly sound digitized either. The recording is clean like mint vinyl. Any prejudice I had against drum-machines has since been dashed. A track like “Peaceful,” so simple in its instrumentation, seems to burst forth from its simplicity, a stick figure drawing breaking through the page in something like an acid trip with a circus of fleas singing chorus.
The whole album bursts forth and breaks free from the confines of Marty Anderson’s reputation. On this album are seven minute indie epics strummed through on a guitar ready to transmogrify into something celestial: the simple twinkle of a far off star is nothing but atom bomb’s worth of explosions in the sky, a deceptive simplicity. This simplicity is where the album bursts from, vocals, guitar, and drum-machine, each beginning spartan with the start of a song, and each multiplying far beyond themselves to reach a choral intensity likened to the burning jets of a space shuttle. The chorus roars and then curtsies by song’s end. This comes from an album I expected to give me a melancholy wail. This album doesn’t wail, it roars with an unexpected power even after it’s over.