Musician and writer Lucas Garrett penned a review of While Rome Burns for the website www.nippertown.com. I think he was right on target calling it “an incredibly peculiar and, at times, hauntingly quirky electronic record” and in remarking that there are “undeniable oddities that permeate this record.”
While Rome Burns is not collection of three-minute pop songs, but a sonic adventure that rewards the open-minded listener. I am grateful that Lucas gave it a good listen!
Wes's story about the making of this album is that, because of the COVID lockdown, he needed to busy himself and decided to play around with items (equipment) at hand. And I can believe him when he says he was doing this "for fun."
I can sense the spirit of fun -– even of play – that informs While Rome Burns. But I wouldn’t blame anyone who isn’t at least a little confused. The very title sets a somber tone: Wes was playing…while Rome burned. Some of the tracks are aggressively jagged and chaotic, but not in a “fun” way. We hear breaking glass, wailing voices, whining children, the bleeps and bloops common to hospital ICUs, and the horrid siren sound that buttons down the rhythm on “450 Kennedy Road.”
So…is the album fun? Or is it a warning of some kind?
Or might it be both? That seems hard to imagine. Meanwhile, Wes just smiles and holds his cards close to the chest.
“Row Your Boat” only uses a few words from the children's round, and the music is original. It is so short because it was the first thing I recorded on the Yamaha QY100, and I was simply doing a test track.
“All For Me Grog” is a 19th century Irish sailor's tune, and it is not technically a sea chantey because it was a recreational song, not a work song like the halyard and capstan chanteys. I thought a dance beat would provide a reasonably silly amount of contrast. This tune actually features a short musical quote from “Row, Row, Row Your Boat!”
If ever there was an accidental album, this would be it. I had left these tracks (and those early pandemic days) behind, but here I am in 2023 with my first "retro-electronica" release thanks to David and his interest in this odd collection of musical orphans. Wonders never cease!
When the pandemic shutdown began in March of 2020, John Wesley Seneca gathered a few pieces of not-so-cutting edge electronic music gear in a small room, slipped on the headphones and pressed "record." For months he would share his audio creations with just a handful of friends.
In 2022 I was made aware of this music by a family member. I contacted Wes and asked if he could send me a few examples- he sent me nearly three dozen MP3s! Wes would have been just as happy leaving these tracks to linger on his computer, but I was so intrigued that I asked him if I could curate (for lack of a better word) a group of them into an album.
Slip on your headphones and hear how one man got through the early months of the pandemic. The new album While Rome Burns comes your way in March of 2023.