Gary Wilson is the rare cult musician who appeals both to indie-rock and electronic-music fans. His quirky music has been rereleased in this century by both the Feeding Tube and Stones Throw labels. The former company reissued Another Galaxy, Wilson's 1974 debut album, which does not prepare you for what came after. Playing piano and stand-up bass, Wilson led a trio through four instrumentals of spare, questing, groove- intensive jazz that flashed deceptive traces of funk. The thing is, nobody really heard this record until 2016, so it hit with serious WTF? impact.
Wilson is much better known for his 1977 full-length, You Think You Really Know Me, a twisted collection of women-obsessed tunes that constantly keeps you wondering if Wilson is parodying lovestruck lounge-pop or if he's genuinely revealing his idiosyncratic personality. Whatever the case, these songs ooze a peculiar charm that's aged well over the last 43 years.
There's something Steely Dan–like about Wilson's compositions, although they possess much less guile, cynicism, and coked-out, studio- gloss perfectionism than Donald Fagen and Walter Becker's output. Wilson has minted a subgenre: Let's call it "outsider Weather Channel fusion," but—plot twist!—it's actually compelling, because it's just off-kilter enough to let you know he's in on the joke, although he never breaks character. The sad-sack, Holiday Inn aura that clings to Wilson's finest material adds a layer of pathos to what could be hokey shtick.
Beneath this quasi-jokey persona, though, Wilson is a seriously skilled musician who's as fascinated as much with '60s bubblegum pop as he is with John Cage's experimental theories. His catalog is a bundle of contradictions, but they all cohere into very interesting subterranean pop and porn-film funk that occupy a weird netherzone in the musical landscape. Also playing this Freakout Records bill are the smooth bedroom-psych-pop artists Part Time (who are headlining) and Bryson Cone.