It’s hard to pinpoint Flying Object and its dynamic application in the new EP “No Rewind”—until you realize it’s a Matt O’Brian joint.
The man is unquestionably talented, as illustrated by heady explorations at the helm of roots reggae superband Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, Thunder Body, and Great Blue Heron.
On “No Rewind,” O’Brian plays it loose, summoning the music’s words and undeniable hooks, which burst out in a sort of stream of consciousness. He is well aware of this dynamic presence and practice, though he denies specifically trying to make it a part of the overall sound.
You see, it’s not up to the man; he’s content in letting the music play him. The dude abides; the music on this five-song EP is exactly where he’s at.
“Flying Object is meant to document the songs that I write,” O’Brian says. “It’s the made-up context for the songs, like any band name or brand name. I hide behind the name a bit, so it’s not just my name out there first thing, but Flying Object is me.”
O’Brian’s vocal style is sung out as soon as it occurs to him.
“This thing we’re calling stream of consciousness is the result of my constant creative process,” says O’Brian, a Rochester mainstay. “I was told by a friend once that I should write lyrics more like how I talk, that I never say cool stuff in songs like I do when I’m talking. The same friend later told me to consider saving the velocity of my speech for songs.
“That advice is part of it,” he adds. “I read lots of books and write prose. I call that ‘long form’ and I refer to ‘long form and song form.’ There’s no reason a snappy little song can’t get across a more long-form thought if I work at it just right.”
This approach, O’Brian hopes, will make the songs worth exploring with several listens.
“I don’t want to make songs longer and I don’t want to oversimplify a thought for the sake of the length of a song,” he says. “I also don’t need the lyrics to adhere to the allotted slots of 4 and 8 music. The words fit right in however you smash the math. The stream-of- consciousness thing is happening not only as it pertains to the words and wordplay, but also the barlines and sections of the song.”
Sharing the thrill for the tunes and their lush crush is producer and guitarist of upside-down wonder Overhand Sam Snyder.
“Sam Snyder and I joked about how to get that stuff across to people before they hear the music,” O’Brian says.
This sounds a lot like a threat.
“I could talk about it all day, but I’ve been advised to save the enthusiasm for the songs,” he says.
O’Brian did—and Snyder harnessed it.
“Overhand Sam brought the project to the project,” O’Brian says. “I usually write songs in my kitchen. Sam invited me over to ‘make a record’ without any other discussion. I walked to his place. He handed me a guitar. He told me to play the drums next. Then the bass. He played bass on two tracks when I tried, and my ideas sucked. He has a super-chill way of getting done exactly what I sit around daydreaming about. Sam had just made his amazing Overhand Sam record, so I got the benefit of his experience with that.”
Every new project he launches like Great Blue Heron or Thunder Body seems to take him farther each time from Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad. You gotta wonder what keeps O’Brian from completely extracting himself from GPGDS’ lexicon completely.
“I set out to write the best songs of my life with no regard for anything I’d done before or any reputation I had gained, for better or worse,” O’Brian says. “I’m continually compelled to do songs and write. I have my method and my madness from being at it a long time. I set out to leave something here that’s evidence of how I go about what I think is art.”
In the meanby…
“Flying Object is what it’ll be called for the time being until I think it’s time for a new thing,” O’Brian says. “I’ve never been able to know when and how things will come and go. This has taken a whole lot longer to get going than I ever could have thought it would.”
“I had the freedom to show up to Sam’s with a couple hours notice and make a recording of a band without having a band. I was perfectly happy doing it this way.”
While he would have had the Flying Object players join in, they had moved away at the time of this recording.
“There wasn’t anyone else to teach these songs to at the moment,” O’Brian says. “I need to be playing more piano so I’m ready next time Sam texts me.”
Another bunch of releases like this one and individual songs are in store. O’Brian is focused on a collection of recorded songs. He says he wants to be brave and let the songs be as juicy as he can stand.
Quirky, mand cap, lo-fi fun.
Hopefully the songs will find their way to places we’ve only dreamed of. It’s a deliberate flying stumble toward making more music and more art, whatever we call it at the time.
Frank De Blase is Rochester Beacon music writer.
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