Jordan Reyes (Musician/Label Owner)

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This time around we feature the vinyl collection of musician, writer and label owner Jordan Reyes.

The first record I ever bought with my own money was…

Raw Power by the Stooges, OK Computer by Radiohead, and Velvet Underground & Nico by Velvet Underground in one fell swoop. I got into rock music late – around the age of 17 – after reading an uncle’s copy of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. I was buying CDs at that point, predominantly hip hop and Latin music, but I picked up Nirvana’s Nevermind, and that opened a world to me. Not an extremely cool thing to admit, but I spent a lot of time reading Rolling Stones, Pitchfork, and AllMusic to find the most critically-acclaimed records. I listened to those to get an understanding, and used their curation as a stand-in for my own taste before realizing I did – in fact – have a taste of my own. I started buying vinyl on my 19th birthday – my grandparents gave me their refurbished turntable, speakers, and receiver, and I went to Vintage Vinyl in Evanston, IL to buy some favorites. “Search & Destroy” by the Stooges is one of the all-time great album openers, though now I think “Down on the Street” from Funhouse may be even better! Velvet Underground and Radiohead were both formative bands for me, and I learned a lot about experimenting from them. Obviously, in the meantime,the weird has taken over more and more in my heart and mind.

The record that made me want to make music was…

This is a tough one, but probably Seven’s Travels by Atmosphere. I heard that album when I was 13 or so, and it completely shook me – particularly the song “Always Coming Back Home To You,” which is still an all-time favorite song. The energy and lyricism on that album changed the way I thought language could be used, the way stories could be told. I danced, rapped, and sang in High School, and was heavily into hip-hop culture. The two cats I made music with are still doing hip hop – Shaun and Krevon Teamer, brothers. Shaun does music as Highwesthus in Kansas City and his brother Krevon produces and emcees here in Chicago as Leyone Tracks. These two were and are pure creative entities, relentless in their output. Later on, as I got into rock, Nevermind by Nirvana made me pick up a guitar, and Alessandro Cortini’s Forse trilogy made me pick up synthesizers.

The record I’ve played more than any other is…

Nevermind by Nirvana. Hands down. I’ve owned multiple copies of the CD because it got so scratched up. Nirvana is my favorite band ever, and also my girlfriend’s favorite band, so we listen to them a lot. Every road trip we take has at least one extended Nirvana session.

The record that always make me feel good is…

Through the Looking Glass by Midori Takada. This record is a massage – a release of any and all tension. I listen to this album on flights because I have panic attacks almost every time. It’s nearly an environmental album – there’s such a lush, organic sound. Takada is the queen of percussive minimalism, and her work in the Mkwanju Ensemble is also worth checking out. It’s nice to see her getting the credit and audience she deserves after the recent reissue on Palto Flats – I was lucky enough to get to see her play in Chicago in winter 2018, and it delivered on every expectation I had.

The record I turn to when I’m feeling down is…

Teenage Snuff Film by Rowland S Howard. I’ve been sober for over five years at this point, but a few months after I became sober I saw the documentary Autoluminescent, which is about Howard’s life. Howard played in The Birthday Party and The Boys Next Door with Nick Cave, and had a dynamite, singular guitar tone, but he always wrote great songs, including the great ballad “Shivers” by the Boys Next Door. Howard was a drug addict, got clean a few years before he died. The documentary was filmed shortly before he passed, and he knows he’s at death’s door. He’s been diagnosed with liver disease, but he’s just met this woman and her child, and they’ve given his life so much meaning, but the damage he’s done is irreparable. He acknowledges all of this in the film, crying even. It’s tragic. I don’t feel any addictive impulses today, but when I feel down or when I used to think about drinking or doing drugs, I always reminded myself that there was someone who didn’t make that choice and wished he had. It’s a record that reminds me not to take my life for granted.

The record with my favorite cover art is…

Undercurrent by Bill Evans and Jim Hall. This record cover has haunted me since I saw it. The cover shows a woman swimming on her back from under the water. It reminds me of the painting “Christina’s World” by Andrew Wyeth. When I see that painting I imagine there are screams from the house. The woman in the foreground wishes she could make it to the house, but is unable to. The story goes that the model for the painting had Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, which rendered her unable to walk regularly. Undercurrent is another image that on first glance looks somewhat innocuous, but could have a darker undertone.

The strangest LP I own is…

I have this record called A Child’s Cry: A Clue To Diagnosis that has 24 tracks of different baby cries depending on the condition of the baby. The first track is “The Cry Of A Normal Newborn Baby,” for example and there’s also one called “The Weak Cry Of Downs Syndrome Or Mongolism.” Touching titles.

The rarest LP I own is…

I just sold an original of GG Allin’s first album Always Was, Is, and Always Shall Be signed by Allin. I’ve gotten to the point where – after having been a collector for a substantial period – I don’t need to hold onto things if I’m not actively listening to them, even if they’re rare – just the things that hold relevance. Plus, I’m in the business of curating and releasing other people’s art, and being able to do that is worth more to me than a rarity on the shelf. It’s hard to say what’s rarest because I have many titles with editions between one and five. I’ve got some pretty cool test pressings by artists like Alessandro Cortini, Klaus Schulze, and Sleep Chamber. I don’t spend money on my personal collection so frequently anymore, but I was just gifted a promo cassette of a new Controlled Death (Masonna) release on Deathbed Tapes – that was very kind of Alex over there!

The last LP I bought was…

I’m always getting shipments in for my store American Damage, and recently got a shipment of the new Black Editions titles, which I’m very excited about – I love that label. But the most recent record I bought for myself is Intemperol, the new LP collab between Sarah Davachi, a friend of mine and talented musician, and Ariel Kalma, the French ambient luminary. I find that these days – in my leisure listening – I turn to mostly ambient, electroacoustic, and minimalist music.

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Jordan Reyes’ latest album, Close, will be released on June 14, 2019. You can pre-order a digital download and three different vinyl variants here.

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