When interviewed about his early, influential work, John Fahey had the tendency to dismiss it as “cosmic-sentimentalism”. Used as a pejorative to describe a kind of naiveté that Fahey noticed in his big-tent, let’s-throw-it-all-together style of American folk music, Zachary Thompson Spencer aka JENNIFER took up this phrase as a compliment of the highest order and an idea worth exploring in his omnivorous approach to creating music.
JENNIFER sits squarely in a lattice of late-modern new age minimalism, and SINCERELY, created using isolated stems of 80’s pop hits filtered through Spencer’s deep passion for Indian/Southeast-Asian music & contemporary drone heavy-hitters, is an album that’s fiercely more than the sum of its parts – cosmic sentimentalism to the gills.
It’s hard not to imagine this music as some kind of unearthed lost-classic 1980’s White Label, Marin County hot-tub-scene new age album accompanied by 40 pages of liner notes. In reality, JENNIFER is a solo project of Denver D.I.Y denizen and noise-punk lifer Zachary Thompson Spencer. A fixture in Denver’s legendary D.I.Y community who cut his teeth playing in over a dozen Skingraft / Load Records style noise-punk bands in the CD-R-era American underground, Spencer experienced a crisis of faith in the foundational underpinnings of Western music that led to an 8-year immersive study of North Indian classical music and the centering of drone outside of a Western context.
JENNIFER, originally conceived as an offering to the ever-present-now in the form of analog-only, never-recorded live performances, produced the music that eventually became SINCERELY over a 5-6 month span in 2018 after a series of personal and community tragedies rocked Spencer and the close-knit D.I.Y scene centered around famed warehouse space Rhinoceropolis. Bridging the gap from the “gift theory of art” that informed JENNIFER’s early performances, these recordings slowly began taking shape as a personal gift to Madeline Johnston (Midwife) and others devastated at the loss of both a cherished friend and an artistic community.
Years after its completion, this “elegy in the shape of a love letter” has now been offered up to the world at large: a collection of graceful, tearfully-joyous compositions full of bright, arcing drones, seismic tonal shifts, and gorgeous harmonic overtones that recall the stately elegance of Stars of the Lid and amplifier-riding of La Monte Young. At its heart, SINCERELY speaks from a place of love extended outwards.