The title of this work, Grab, is more than appropriate. It reminds me of a carnival grab bag, with throwaway items, ridiculous and cheesy. But Joel creates his own grab bag; I can smell the sawdust, taste the funnel cakes, ride the Ferris wheel and see the whole drama framed against the beauty of the All American night. Joel spells all of this with letter strips and fragments, impossible to connect or disconnect. The colors bash into one another, sometimes brightly shining, sometimes battling for supremacy, sometimes contrasting color with black and white. The pieces are language charms, word hexes, broken letter prophets. What’s beautiful here is that the music staves organize the factors of the series, implying both a merry-go-round’s crazy delight and the soaring soprano of some Mozart opera.
I love these segments, I love how they intersect and create maddening compositions, multiple angles and meanings sliced on a guillotine. Some of the pieces I really dig: “of darkness all”, “kingdom of am” (these two lines create bookends, “all” implying universal sadness, “am” suggesting the glow of higher consciousness for us all). Slips of paper reading “fa”, “LIB”, and “ir gr” are open to interpretation, as are most pieces. You can mix and match fragments, single words, and gorgeous glyphs brought together in an unexpected random/ not random universe full to bursting, sprawling, spreading out, making one giant uber-multi-referential epic.
A trip to the carnival is dizzying: cotton candy, house of mirrors, tilt-a-whirl. For Joel, these things all exist on those music staves. Reach into his grab bag and you’ll pull out that perfect melody, those massed chords, the words that won’t be words.
I love this stuff, and I love roller coasters.