The smell of happiness is a perfume of security
Like fresh sunshine through an open door
It rustles you from a late morning sleep
Eyes still closed
From the vibrant hub of Chicago, the creative force known as Evidence of a Struggle unveils their debut thirteen-track album. This melodic journey expertly fuses the innovative textures of art rock with the insurgent spirit of alternative music. The inaugural album’s keystone track, the high-energy “Sal-E,” stands as the artistic compass guiding this fascinating musical exploration.
The cerebral epicenter of Evidence of a Struggle is the virtuoso multi-instrumentalist William P C Simmons V, or as he is better known in the music world, Rev. Billy Simmons. A dynamic ensemble of artists and musicians orbit around his conceptual gravity, their combined talents creating a complex and immersive auditory universe. Their compositions can transport you into the heart of a captivating darkness or unfurl before you a universe teeming with lush, cinematic, and occasionally chaotic beauty. From the cozy familiarity of his home studio, the endearingly titled “The Glue Factory,” Rev. Billy showed his mastery over an array of instruments: guitar, drums, piano, synth, and violin all became extensions of his own voice under his deft hands.
The album is complemented by a six-chapter audio-visual storybook, created by Chicago artist John Airo, who has been involved with this project since the outset – creating videos, album covers, and accompanying visuals for live performances. Most of the songs in this collection are instrumentals, except the outro track “Keep It,” a heartbreaking tale of love and devastating loss.
“There is so much attached to these songs, musically, visually, and emotionally. I don’t think there’s an inch within The Glue Factory that hasn’t been touched by literal blood, sweat, or tears,” muses Rev. Billy. “I believe that Evidence of a Struggle is natural in creating all art.”
The most recent visual treat from Evidence of a Struggle is the music video for “Bisquee”, a captivating piece of offbeat post-rock. The video, a companion to the instrumental piece, is an immersive exploration of the relentless cycles of nature, life and death, and the intricate labyrinth of the human mind. With an undercurrent of intensity, the animated scenes oscillate between instances of destruction and moments of rebirth, drawing in viewers with its compelling narrative.
Before “Bisquee”, Evidence of a Struggle presented their inaugural single “Do’Oa”. The track is a mesmerizing blend, a fusion of the innovative stylings of Tortoise and Dif Juz. Accompanying the auditory experience is a captivating visual narrative, where we follow a character venturing on an open-ended journey, bound for an unknown destination. This cinematic debut set a precedent for the innovative storytelling that continues to define the ensemble’s work.
The captivating trilogy reaches its resolution with “Alan’s Song”, a symphony that encapsulates fear, beauty, and hubris in its resonating chords. It is the auditory embodiment of a majestic diversion, beautiful in its composition, yet marked by an inevitable descent into disarray. This concluding piece encapsulates the essence of Evidence of a Struggle’s narrative – compelling, complex, and unapologetically authentic.
Born in the quiet solitude of the 2020 lockdowns, Evidence of a Struggle is a living testament to Rev. Billy’s unyielding artistic drive. As the world began to emerge from the pandemic’s constraints, he entered into a creative partnership with Sanford Parker – a veteran in the music world recognized for his work with Voivod, Russian Circles, Yob, Eyehategod, Wovenhand, Darkthrone, Youth Code, and Pelican. Parker’s expertise in recording, producing, and mastering the album’s final cuts elevated Rev. Billy’s solo venture to new heights in the world of music.
As Rev. Billy’s unique brand of musicianship and songwriting prowess began to capture attention, he found himself standing at a crossroads between academic pursuits and a promising music career. He entered the professional music scene writing songs and wielding his guitar for the RCA recording artist Ké, an initial step that led him to contribute to a variety of other artists. His talents became in-demand commodities on prestigious record labels.
The year 2023 marked a significant milestone in the journey of Evidence of a Struggle, as Matt Walker – known for his work with Smashing Pumpkins, Morrissey, Garbage, and Filter – lent his percussive skills and production expertise to the project. Adding more depth and flavor to the ensemble, Matt’s brother, Solomon Walker, whose musical accolades include Morrissey, Bryan Adams, Eastern Shadows, and Year of the Rabbit, joined in the creative effort. Alan Berliant, with a musical pedigree featuring Chris Connelly, Mavis Staples, and Saint Asonia, enriched the composition by contributing his bass skills. Together, this talented trio brought an enhanced dynamism and complexity to Rev. Billy’s vision, marking a new chapter in the life of Evidence of a Struggle.
Apart from music, Rev. Billy also owns Rev. Billy’s Chop Shop, known for high-quality haircuts, friendly, welcoming atmosphere and its inclusive, creative space. Hosting new artists’ work bimonthly, Chicago Reader declared this to be the city’s best gallery in 2019. A staple in the Chicago community, Rev. Billy’s Chop Shop is as strong a passion as his music.
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