Released on June 23, 2014
The new record by People Get Ready is called Physiques. It ramps up the band's fierce, joyful, heedless interplay; its love of big pop songs and trancelike slow jams and songs that fall somewhere in-between; and, above all, its devotion to PLEASURE.
Physiques was made during three months of tracking with Deerhoof's Greg Saunier at the Clocktower Gallery in downtown Manhattan. Founded by Alanna Heiss, who also created what would become MoMA PS1, the Clocktower Gallery was one of the first entrants in New York's "alternative art space" movement in the 1970s. Invited to the space by curator Joe Ahearn (Showpaper, Silent Barn), People Get Ready was among the very last artists to work at this pioneering art space, which is now being renovated into condos. It would not be wrong to take Physiques as a kind of tribute to and last gasp from a more lovely time in New York, when art ran free in downtown Manhattan.
Of course, since it was made in 2013, most of the people who worked on the record live in Brooklyn and came from America's more idealistic Western frontier: People Get Ready consists of two Arizonans (Steven Reker, Jen Goma) and a Californian (James Rickman). Produced by Greg Saunier, the album began as a collection of deliberately incomplete sketches that they developed over three months of improvisation, revision and accidental magic. Steve Marion (Delicate Steve), Brian Betancourt (Hospitality, Here We Go Magic) and Ryan Seaton (Callers) guested on a few songs, and former band member Ian Chang (Matthew Dear, Body Language) played drums. Booker Stardrum, the drummer for experimental outfit Cloud Becomes Your Hand, joined the band that fall.
People Get Ready came together in New York in 2009 while frontman Steven Reker was looking for new ways to combine his devotion to avant-garde movement and pop art after working with Miranda July and touring as a dancer and guitarist on David Byrne's year-long Everything that Happens tour. The band took shape around a run of shows at The Kitchen, described in the New York Times as "an experience beyond hearing music in a club or viewing a dance...a moving meditation that suggests dreams." From the beginning, PGR has performed everywhere from DIY clubs to performance spaces, adding auxiliary performers and homemade instruments (e.g. a "circumstantial guitar," which is strapped to its wearer's back and dragged on the ground by its headstock) or simply attacking their songs as a four-piece. No matter the setting, their live appearances are never less than a sweaty, kinetic party.
Starting their succession of albums recorded in unconventional settings, their first LP was made at Denniston Hill, an artists' retreat in the Catskills cofounded by Julie Mehretu -- her painting, "Renegade Delirium," graces the album's cover. Production duties were handled by composer/arranger/performer Jherek Bischoff. Brassland, the label cofounded by Bryce and Aaron Dessner of The National, released the self-titled album in the fall of 2012.
Nurtured by and connected to several generations of America's hyper-creative bleeding edge of multi-hyphenate musicians/artists/makers, People Get Ready challenge what it means to be a band. NPR's Bob Boilen, placing their performances among his top 5 concerts two years running, put it best: "No single show took my breath away the way this one did?part rock concert, part performance art, part dance, all perfectly melded together. Having seen so many dudes with guitars ... it was incredibly refreshing to find a group challenging and changing the norm."