It’s a welcome treat when I’m tasked with listening to something and am genuinely surprised by what I hear. I don’t necessarily mean when I’m stunned by the music’s quality, although that’s great, too, but rather the sense that I never would have guessed an album would have sounded like this. Such was the case when I put on a nondescript CD-R dropped off at the Weekly offices by a one-man project called iNcelta.
Beneath the Sharpie-scrawled artist’s name on this disc was Music Time Capsule –– also handwritten. The title would have provided at least some ambiguous hint at the disc’s contents had I initially made notice of it. I pressed play, and the opening track “Lasserie,” which I’ve since learned is a science-fiction opus, began with a 16-bit drum machine fading up under a bending distorted guitar loop punctuated by glassy slap bass and gritty, raking organ stabs. As the vocals came barking in, I was in complete wonderment, as the song sounded like it could have been culled from the now legendary 30-plus hours of unreleased material discovered posthumously in Prince’s vault at Paisley Park. It’s at once more funk than any semblance of hip new rock and more expressive and experimental than your average trendy pop music. I can honestly say I’ve never heard anything like it, at least not in this decade.
The man behind iNcelta is Cody Cannefax, a 40-year-old Burleson native. And Music Time Capsule, which was independently released on November 4, is his debut album under that moniker. As the name suggests, Time Capsule seems as likely to have been released in 1987 as 2017. That’s not to confuse iNcelta with the current disappointing popularity of calculated ’80s nostalgia throwbacks a la lobotomy-inciting dance pop revivalists like Blood Orange. No, it’s a sound that’s more difficult to nail down. Despite the ready vocal and virtuosic guitar associations with the Purple One, the tone and mood of Cannefax’s music more easily recalls art rockers like Peter Gabriel-era Genesis and Oingo Boingo than the hit factories of the decade of excess.
Cannefax describes Time Capsule as “extremely diverse and experimental, covering many genres ranging from psychedelic rock, straight-ahead rock, funk, and improvisational. Many of the songs are connected like a Pink Floyd album, giving it a retro feel.”
Recording the album was an intense process for Cannefax, as he poured all of himself into the work, even going so far as enduring a late-in-life shift in career to accommodate making the album. A multi-instrumentalist, he supplied every note on the record as well as every word sung. The nine songs are the culmination of more than 2,000 hours spent bunkered down in his home studio. Upon completion, he received some invaluable mixing and mastering help from Jeff Mount at Sessionworks Studios in Hurst.
“Jeff was a game changer,” Cannefax said. “He brought out every piece of potential in the tracks that I could hear but couldn’t quite tame.”
To support the album, Cannefax is teaming up with local award-winning film and advertising company Red Lux Productions to shoot a cinematic music video for the song “Bad, Bad Dreams.” The concept for the video is as dark and tragic as the song, which recounts a nightmare scenario wherein a mother “unleashes unspeakable horrors onto her own children.” He’s been on the hunt for a basement in which to shoot the video, and that’s proven to be a frustrating white whale of sorts. Not many houses sit on top of basements in North Texas, but he remains determined to find one, as he feels it’s essential to his vision. The song touches on a subject important to Cannefax, one he hopes to help bring awareness to: mental illness.
“It’s something that has deeply impacted me personally,” Cannefax said. “I have friends and family that suffer from mental illnesses. I get frustrated by the exhaustion and sense of being inconvenienced that some who deal with people who have mental disorders can often feel. It’s way better to offer love and empathy in my opinion.”
It’s a sentiment that is indicative of the highly positive person Cannefax seems to be. A positivity that winds itself through his unique brand of funky, improvisational psychedelic rock. It’s another aspect that makes him an artist as singular as, say, a basement in North Texas.