Some big names on this one you might recognize – we missed this when it first came out, but its now on most streaming services and we are told CD and vinyl are coming soon: “A Rock So Big I Cain’t was conceived as a 3-sided LP, tackling (in three 16-minute parts) such lyrical questions as, “Have you ever thought about how Cain killed Abel with a rock?”, “Can God lift this great big rock we live on or is it too heavy?”, and “How many years can one person live on nothing but German bratwurst?”
A Rock So Big I Cain’t is the proper debut solo release from intermittent multi-instrumentalist and garage rock recording artist Josh Rude, although he’s been tinkering with guitars, pianos, synths and recording equipment for decades. 1998’s eponymous The Masters of Ceremony recording was produced by Rochester, Indiana’s Brent Evans (4th Street Studios and later Madison Music) and also featured fellow experimental musicians James Clark (Homunculus Algorithm) and Jace Hoppes (IXth Key.) A series of independent CD-Rs (as J*R) in sporadic coffee shop live events followed, with 2006’s “Of Mice and Giraffes” ending Rude’s recording streak (as garage rock group Stray Master with drummer Dirk Ton.)
Two career changes and two decades’ worth of home experimental recordings finally result in the truly eclectic, sometimes esoteric but always exciting A Rock So Big I Cain’t, in which Rude plays nearly every chord, synth drum and flange effect. The real treat, however may be the appearances by industry veterans and friends Jerry Chamberlain (DA, Swirling Eddies), Steve Taylor (Chagall Guevara, Perfect Foil), Joshua Lory (Michael Knott, Cast The Dragon), Steve Scott and Randy Layton (Exit & Alternative Records) and others adding “chorus”, context and commentary throughout the record in true Mothers-of-Invention-inspired-goodness, just for good measure.
At 48 minutes, there’s not so much indie taffy here that one can’t be hooked by repeated listenings. Dig in.
“Very much rooted in an avant-garde, noise, spoken word, sonic manipulation, a bit of rock zone – you know, if Negativland and Steve Scott and Steve Taylor got together. (Come to think of it, two of those have cameos here)…[This is] the kind of album that is very dense and needs close attention paid to it. It will reap rewards for the listener open to all this, and I don’t think there’s really an equivalent out there for this sort of experience that also engages on spiritual questions of a serious nature, but also a lot of humour and other topics maybe not quite so heavy to be enjoyed. Kudos for Josh on stepping out on a ledge and putting his musical soul out there. This from a guy who has delivered sermons and now, mail. Now this. It’s all connected.”
– Randy Layton, Alternative Records (Eugene, OR)
“Very unorthodox and random…[with] nicely done cacophony!”
– Jason Hoffman, “Whatzup” Magazine (Fort Wayne, IN)
“Wow. Super experimental. Rock and Roll is alive!”
– Steve Hindalong, songwriter/drummer/producer, The Choir/The Lost Dogs”