- (Review by Dan from TwoWayMonologues.com)
Some music needs context, and some music can stand alone. Joseph Peragine’s record Self Medication Poems of Alienation definitely needs some context.
This is essentially a spoken word record set over Peragine playing guitar/bass, drums and anything else you hear. Sounds simple enough right? Well, it isn’t.
Joseph Peragine is a paranoid schizophrenic. And while things are actually going very well for him lately, that wasn’t always the case. Reading the liner notes and the electronic press kit, where Joseph found TWM, it’s a significant miracle that this album even exists.
These aren’t a now-much-happier man looking back at his darker days – though that would be compelling enough listening. Instead, these are poems Joseph wrote as a means to attempt to cope with the intense demons he was battling. It’s a chilling, fascinating and wild ride listening to Self Medication Poems of Alienation. You aren’t going to listen to this at the next party you throw -- but you should listen to it.
I find my experience with this record to be very similar to my experience with the earliest solo John Frusciante works. It’s not comfortable listening, and it’s easy to want to “look” away. What do most of us do when we walk by someone who is clearly deep into a drug addiction or having obvious mental issues? We look away, turn the other way, cross the street and maybe mutter something to the person we are with about the one we’d just walked by. It’s this type of dismissal that the majority of music listeners give to records like Self Medication Poems of Alienation or Frusciante’s Niandra Ladies and Usually Just a T-Shirt.
We forget at times that music is an art, instead pining for that one catchy riff or sugar-coated chorus to bob our heads around to as we try our best to ignore the clutter of people on the streetcar. If Joseph Peragine were a visual artist, acceptance of his work would be almost instantaneous. But musicians don’t get that same carte blanche, do they?
Peragine isn’t much of a singer (nor does he claim to be) and proof of that is in the one instrumental track “Fighting For Existence (Main Theme)”, the highlight of the record for me. I love the intensity of this track, although I’d of put it in the middle.
But as much as I am buying into this, one song that doesn’t do it for me is “The Shallow Chronicles”. I get it, obviously when the songs open up with the words “What’s up music guy,” in a female voice and then Joseph says “What’s up slutty female?” before going into a nearly six-minute sarcastic back-and-forth which says “bra” rather than bro about 600 times. It’s littered with muttered sexual references like “That’s deep (so is my throat)” and it just gets worse from there. I just find it annoying, and too long. And maybe even a bit sexist…
Again, I have to remember to consider the source. Apparently these were all penned during Joseph’s most troubled times, even if “The Shallow Chronicles” feels a lot more recent and less autobiographical than the rest. For me that one song just treads far to close to Insane Clown Posse territory and hurts the impact of the remainder of an otherwise solid album.
Despite that one major fault, Self Medication Poems of Alienation remains one of the more intellectually stimulating records I’ve heard in years.