Review: Private Anarchy – Central Planning (Round Bale Recordings, May 31)

Lately, it’s rare that I get to listen to something the exact day it comes out (starting up full-time work again is kicking my privileged ass). It’s even rarer that I sit down to review something on its release date. As you can see, such an occurrence would necessitate a very special case—which is exactly what Private Anarchy’s new album Central Planning is. Private Anarchy is the moniker Clay Kolbinger uses for his one-man art punk project, which began with a small run of self-titled tapes—also on Round Bale—back in 2015, and provides an outlet for the idiosyncratic artist’s penchant for sardonic, rambling lyrics that reach new levels of deadpan and off-kilter instrumentals that are somehow tense and taut while also never seeming to be perfectly in sync. Kolbinger’s various endeavors all worm their way into my dearest musical preferences at varying locations, with Termite Acropolis providing some of my favorite wobbly DIY tape music, Maths Balance Volumes staking out a space in my most beloved outsider experimenters, and Davenport always transmitting the most beautiful of deconstructed folk music; Private Anarchy is no different, and on Central Planning even more so than the debut tape the music becomes truly enrapturing. The new record feels more developed and fully-formed, but still sounds appealingly scuzzy and stitched together, and there’s a bit more optimism to the oddball imagery and bone-dry sarcasm that Kolbinger mutters over his stumbling post-punk contraptions. This isn’t to say it’s any more accessible, however… even the shortest songs like “H.A.” and “The Catalog of Fire” explore bizarre textural worlds through their disorienting guitar interplay, and “Accumulation,” essentially an abstract tape piece whose only rhythmic consistency comes from the looping guitar strums, is PA’s strangest track yet. Private Anarchy’s ability to keep you constantly both bobbing and scratching your head is unmatched.