Milwaukee-based experimental musician and multi-instrumentalist Max Devereaux says he likes to see how far he can push himself. Sonically, his self-described “stream of consciousness” recorded encapsulations of “raw emotion” reach the periphery of world music, indie rock, jazz, and off-kilter pop, among a number of other genres and subsets. In terms of quantity, Devereaux also challenges himself, having put out 46 songs on a combined five self-recorded releases within the last six months. Even more indicative of his artistic drive, the compelled composer has been “violently ill” during much of the half-year span.
“It finally has all come to a head when I found out that I need to have six inches of my intestine removed to get better,” Devereaux says.
Tuesday, just two days before he goes under the knife, Devereaux will release Wasteland, his fifth effort since last November. The 10-song album finds him venturing to places he has rarely, if ever, visited in previous releases.
“Wasteland is an attempt to communicate very complex and hard-to-place emotions with even more complex and hard-to-place sounds,” Devereaux says. “My past releases have used more traditional musical language.”
The record shifts shape and differs greatly on a song-by-song basis. The title track sees Devereaux melding airy instrumentation with cold and monotone vocals, only to be chased with a brassy work of deconstructed doo-wop called “Blood Brothers” and a jazzy seven-minute instrumental deluge of drums, horns, and flute called “Blind Man’s Buff.”
Even the actual recording process of the stylistically-scattered Wasteland wasn’t confined to one place, though the majority of it was written and laid down over the course of a month in a basement room in the Enderis Park neighborhood on Milwaukee’s North side. Despite his health issues, Devereaux says he plans to release two more albums soon, and work on some film projects. With a massive back catalog and an undisputed drive, it’s safe to say this won’t be the last we hear from Max Devereaux.
“Part of the reason I release so much material is because I don’t know what is around the corner,” Devereaux says. “I am trying to beat back the darkness with hard work.”