Grex
Everything You Said Was Wrong
Geomancy Records

Everything You Said Was Wrong is the fifth LP by Oakland, California, experimental duo Grex. They say that it may be their last. As their region is on fire in the midst of a global pandemic, a band which acknowledges its “many attempts to channel its musical activity into beleaguered activist causes” for over a decade since its conception, this album reflects its conditions. Grex is the project of Filipino Americans Karl Evangelista and Rei Scampavia, two multi-instrumentalists with a radical slant. 

In biology, a Grexis term that refers to the aggregation of a multitude of tiny, amoeba-like creatures combining to create a superorganism. This feels like a fitting name when you listen to the incredible disparate parts and traditions which the band brings together. They blend the free jazz of the 1960s with noise music, elements of experimental hip hop, and roaring guitars. It’s an album about a city subjected to a really intense process of gentrification, insane economic disparities and social injustice. As with the fissures in genre distinctions, the politics and lyricism of Everything You Said Was Wrong fold the world in on itself, perfectly mirror seemingly dissimilar forces of destruction. 

The video for the lead single, “Criminal,” with its cold, soul-stirring instrumental minimalism and lyrics about an emerging fascism, sees footage of the dressed up band members over footage of Phillipine and American political life, including anti-Duterte protests. In a tweet about the video release Evangelista said, “Yes, it’s about Duterte, but also so much more.” It’s relevant and compelling protest music.

The instrumentation of this album is an embarrassment of riches. In discussing their music the band cite the influence of their friend and hero, legendary South African jazz drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo, which can be heard in the more free jazz influenced tracks on the album. From the gnarly bass on the opening track “KD” to “Feather Chaser” which sounds like a more rhythmically challenging Beach House song, there’s much to savor and revisit. The title Everything You Said Was Wrong (an allusion to Star Wars: The Last Jedi) nods towards a new height in knowing yourself, attaining a mastery of previous errors. It may start as a wildfire but at the end there’s new breath in the same urgency.

The album is a fundraiser benefiting the ACLU and Milford Graves.