Accelera Deck can get you into a hypnotic loop, pulling you into its orbit and slowly adding new flourishes to the mix. Bass and drums are stuck in a repetitive groove while gamma rays of noise melt over the structure, oozing into every audible crack. Other than the rhythm, nothing else is identifiable.
Sometime in 1997 I received a demo tape from an artist called “Audio Wishe”, and passed it along to Carla Pino for her demo reviews in the first Masstransfer issue. Little did I know that this would be my first contact with a musician who would go on to prolifically produce works under a number of aliases over the next decade or so.
By the turn of the millennium, Chris Jeely had already racked up a solid discography – and the train was still moving. In the fourth issue of the Masstransfer zine in 2000, Pearson Greer penned quite an extensive overview covering most of his work until that time. A key line at the tail end of the article goes: “you know, I bet in 20 years, we’ll look back and see just how far this genius has come”. Hard to believe it’s been that long already.
I caught back up with Chris in 2020, after being notified of a new Accelera Deck release on Bandcamp. In return he sent me digital copies of recent works as well as his new banner Llarks – taking the best of his smeared tonal guitar playing to new heights. From his standpoint, this is his primary vehicle moving forward.
Right around the time of the interview in Issue:04, Chris and his music really took off. Accelera Deck’s highpoint of that era was an album called Digital Headrest for Neo Ouija (UK) in 2001. For its recording, he used “pretty much every creative idea and resource I had to make an IDM style record. Abstract textures, catchy little melodies, solid beats that were also effected in ways that abstracted them further… like I said every creative idea and trick I could come up with.” Though he admits, “when I finished it, I just couldn’t imagine doing another beat album without it sounding too much like what all I had previously done.”
Jeely then took a different course, and returned to playing the guitar and manipulating the sound using computer effects – “a whole new world of sound design opened up”, says Chris. “It also became more possible to use this way of working to perform the material live” (a change from earlier Accelera Deck material that was floppy-disk based – “and took many disks to save a song”, he adds).
This new style coalesced into an album called Fire Maps, and a short foray into presenting it as a live experience. “People seemed to dig it but were surprised by the lack of beats, some of my sets at the time verged on extremely loud guitar bliss mixed with abrasive computer textures.” Truly a different scene than your average Accelera Deck fan would expect, though Chris continued down this path.
A string of releases followed over the next few years, each one refining and honing a process that was easily transposed onto a live performance canvas. Starting with 2003’s Ipsissima Vox, he began his “biggest push to play live and really fine tune this idea”, and played 14 shows to support it. Chris continues, “the live shows got LOUDER and I really started to get into the idea of what would it sound like if the Mego Records (the original Mego 1995 – 2006, NOT Editions Mego that followed) crew jammed with Kevin Shields.”
The slate of live shows expanded again in 2004, with a 21-date tour (in which he brought over Evol, Spanish group also on Mego) following the release of the album Sunstrings. The noise was dialed back (along with the live shows – with only 6 supporting performances) on 2005’s Pop Polling, where Chris “focused on the song writing more than the extremes of noise and sound design.” Though that was to be a short-term rest – “in 2006 I recorded A Landslide of Stars which returned to the noise blasts and did an 18 date tour.”
Having been highly prolific and musically active for 10 years by this point, and already shedding the more rhythmic elements of his sound, Mr. Jeely was ready for a break – not just for himself but also his audience. “When I finished that album and tour I knew there wasn’t much more for me to do with that way of working without just repeating myself”, he admits. “Perhaps listeners would have enjoyed hearing subtle variations of the formula and more touring would have raised my profile even more, but artistically that would never be challenging or fulfilling. I had been doing Accelera Deck for 10 years at that point and thought this is as good place as any to do something different.”
Wilderness & Revival
Like many musicians I know from the late 1990s, Accelera Deck (and Chris Jeely) went into a creative dormancy starting around 2007. If you were to compare creativity to breathing – after years of exhaling, Chris was ready to “inhale”. Time was spent wandering around various music explorations, helping a friend with an indie rock project, and “just sort of compiling ideas without any thought towards doing anything with them.”
This reflective and experimental journey lasted until about 2014, when another friend asked Chris to do a beat release as Accelera Deck – a soundstyle he had not composed with for almost 15 years. “I started messing around with it a little”, he admits, “and eventually made the Tumult EP which was extremely abstract beats and minimal melodies. I had a good time doing it and was surprised that when I finished with it that I thought it added to the Accelera Deck body of work without really repeating anything either.”
Fueled by this momentum, Chris committed himself to finishing a tape archiving project that was already in progress – a byproduct of mining older material for contemporary reconfiguration. He explains: “In the process of doing this I decided to archive everything off tape I could find. I really have no idea how many tapes I copied, but I ended up with 107 songs (or versions of songs) that were done between 1995 and 1996 using my first drum machine/sequencer set up. All the songs had been recorded on 4 track. When I finished archiving everything (which took a full 3 years on and off) I decided it would make a cool archival album.” The result was the 23-song double-length album epic Perfect Nostalgia Beach Rave, “a very idiosyncratic album with unifying production (dub in its truest sense)”.
Also around this same time, a new musical identity would emerge – founded on those abstract guitar soundscapes but with more melodic tendencies. “Finally in 2014 I wrote and recorded the Atavistic Heart album and started Llarks. Llarks is the closest thing in capturing what I’ve wanted to say artistically (not withstanding that I want to refine and get better at, and write better melodies/songs).” With the voice of a person who sounds like they have finally found what they are looking for, he concludes: “so you might be able to tell that Llarks kind of become my primary focus.”
A trip through the Llarks Bandcamp page (Chris is most active socially on that platform, and almost absent on the major social networks) shows an already growing stable of work in just the past 5 years. Albums and EPs, released on a variety of labels and formats here in the states or overseas, continues the tradition and legacy of Accelera Deck – an aesthetic handed down from the older generations of one man’s musical work. And with an eye towards physical media and collectibles, everything is (or was) available on either cassette, or vinyl/lathe-cut records. If you were looking for an entry point into this new seam of work, a solid place to start is 2020’s Come & Close Your Eyes – then work back from there.
Although he has a new sonic preoccupation, Chris can still find time for the classics – this year saw the release of new Accelera Deck material in the form the Crystalline Prickle EP. Like his music, he is continuously morphing, changing, adapting, experimenting, trying, erring. It’s a creative process he’s been optimizing over 25 years, which shows no signs of abating.