Emperor X is celebrating the re-issue of five of his earlier releases that
preceded the 2011 release of Western Teleport, his label debut for
Bar/None Records with a string of dates. Western Teleport is the
culmination of six years of touring, North America on Greyhound buses, and
recording everywhere from a closet in an Oregon community college athletic
center to the floor of a punk house on the edge of tornado-ravaged
Tuscaloosa. On tour singer/songwriter/guitarist Chad Matheny is being
accompanied by Michael Wallace on guitar and drums and Matt Keegan on
trombone and drums.  I’m hoping you’ll consider advancing this show with a
feature, CD review or advance blurb. If you need the music, please let me
know. Emperor X has already garnered impressive critical recognition for
the new record:

…Evoking a strange world, it sounds like it’s played on 20th-century
instruments excavated during the 22nd century and jury-rigged for
tentative amplification…It’s a wonderfully bizarre idea of what rock music
can be, and is matched only by the whimsy and imagination of Matheny’s
lyrics, which cycle through various…It’s a lively and eccentric record,
yet triumphant in its deep empathy and humanity. Stephen Deusner/Salon.com

Lapsed science teacher Chad Matheny specialized in electro-noise until he
figured out how chords and beats work, enabling him to put together a
futuristic folk music in which nerdy melodies rise out of a shambolic
clatter that’s the best anyone can expect with the power going out all the
time. – Robert Christgau/ MSN.com/music/blogs 10/4

With a lo-fi recording style and spontaneous wordplay reminiscent of such
pop eccentrics as R. Stevie Moore, They Might Be Giants and Pavement, with
hooky DIY choruses worthy of Foster the People, the Feelies, R.E.M. and
Guided by Voices. Roy Trakin/Hits “Trakin Care of Business 10/7

He shouts, stomps, flails like an excited toddler, and generally as much
noise as he can. He’s performed in a laser tag arena, flash-mobbed a Los
Angeles pedestrian tunnel, set up after hours in a Post Office lobby,
played a generator-powered set under the 710 freeway in Long Beach, and
paraded around the streets of Manhattan with an acoustic guitar and
audience in tow. Ryan Wasoba/mplayer.pastemagazine.com 8/10

The cover of Western Teleport features a map of a complex chunk of L.A.
freeway mayhem, an ample metaphor for the noise pop sabotage within,
melodic, layered and singular in its vision. Chad Matheny, the former high
school science teacher behind Emperor X, has crafted a personal style that
stretches multiple narratives on top of each other. Chemical reactions,
romantic obsession, irrigation, Sufi poetry and the decay and rebirth of
the modernist freeway city battle for the top vocal line.

In 2009, Chad found himself in car-centric Los Angles, adrift in a wash of
personal woes compounded by the financial turmoil of the Great Recession.
Too poorly sighted to drive and spoiled by a life spent on America’s
transit-rich Eastern Seaboard, Matheny bought a bike and a bus pass and
did what he does everywhere he goes. He explored a side of Los Angeles
most people only see from a passing car and try their best to ignore. He
found a landscape of gargantuan overpasses with vast stretches of
weed-cracked asphalt. There were homeless encampments perched on the edge
of ruined riverbanks and Best Buy parking lots. He performed Emperor X
concerts with anarcho-cyclist flash mobs, created reverb-drenched YouTube
videos in an underground tunnel system, and performed with a gas-powered
generator beneath the 710 Freeway in Long Beach. The songs and audio that
would become Western Teleport grew out of this unseen part of Los Angeles.

After a brief opening burst of noise, Western Teleport pulls the listener
in with the smooth Lindsey Buckingham groove of “Erica Western Teleport”
before working its way through a near-hallucinatory labyrinth of sound and
images — paramilitary groups raining fallout-filled mortars on the Harbor
Freeway, loved ones getting tasered, epileptic couples stealing Segways
from a looted, abandoned mall, a song about trying to fix a girl’s air
conditioner. Alas, Chad doesn’t know much about “compressor repair,” he
just wants the woman in question “ to be cool.”

Matheny got his start playing in church basements. He learned to record
using a karaoke machine that belonged to a Pentecostal church; it recently
dawned on him that he may have gotten his unblocked lyrical flow from the
practice of speaking in tongues he encountered there. Much of the music
Chad writes springs forth improvisationally; songs are sometimes written
in minutes, emerging fully formed.

His musical development was furthered when a serious car crash left him
with permanent retinal damage to his right eye. During the recovery, he
fled the better-sighted world and abandoned the Christian rock of his
youth, discovering the undiluted audio ferocity and DIY aesthetic of
Sebadoh, Pavement and Guided By Voices and the more abstract soundscapes
of Mute Records post-punk pioneers Fad Gadget, the Swell Maps, and Cabaret

Throughout his Fall 2011 touring, Emperor X planted packages — special,
digitally tagged geocaches that he calls “nodes” — to complete Western
Teleport Nodes, a collection of outtakes and b-sides from the project that
were slowly revealed in an interactive game with his fans. Chad  also
travelled to the Netherlands, where he met up with a roving exhibition
sponsored by Germany’s Museum Folkswang of works by art photographer Joel
Sternfeld in which his music is featured. It’s a frenetic pace, but this
isn’t the cliched life in the fast lane of rock’s heyday. It’s is life in
the bloodstream, heavily oxidized, unpredictable and ready to circulate.

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