With a description like “industrial noise rock” and song titles as sexually suggestive as “The Penetrator” and “Shotgun Sodomy” an initiate into Kyle Rebar’s music might expect the motivations behind his work to be akin to the provocatively dark and pseudo-sadistic musings of, say, a Marilyn Manson.
But in art, as in life, things are not always what they seem, and for the Honesdale artist, who recently released his three-song EP, “Wisdominatrix,” it couldn’t be further from the truth.
“I am a very by the numbers, straight-forward, vanilla person,” Rebar said in a recent phone interview. “To write something masochistic would be inauthentic. So I thought, ‘What if I described something completely mundane and innocuous as something highly sexualized and deviant?’”
So he took his idea for the lyrical content of “The Penetrator” to his girlfriend for consideration.
“She said, ‘Why don’t you write about washing dishes, and the penetrator could be dish soap penetrating grease?’”
And with that suggestion, a completely ordinary household chore became the subject of a song that sounds like it could have been produced by Trent Reznor.
“‘Scamper ‘round the bleached rim’ could be construed as cleaning out a highly burned chili pot, with, you know, other connotations as well,” Rebar said of one of the song’s lyrics. “You can look at it as being very dark, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. I’m laughing at myself in this process of satire and creation.”
Rebar, a trained bass player with a penchant for experimenting with sounds on a hand-held Korg synthesizer called a Kaossilator, said he is influenced by recent work by the Flaming Lips, such as 2013’s “The Terror,” and the jazzy post-rock of Tortoise. But he began work on his latest EP after watching Nine Inch Nails perform on episode eight of David Lynch’s new season of “Twin Peaks.”
The scene depicts Reznor and company in a raw, guttural performance that is as eerie as it is powerful.
“That was awesome, and I wanted to do something like that. I wanted to write something that was a little bit out of the norm for me,” Rebar said. “I had the title (The Penetrator) immediately after I watched the episode.”
The second song on the EP, “I Bet They Get Off On This,” was inspired by a “ranting, rambling text message” Rebar received from friend AJ Lanieski, of Scranton band E57, who was having a problem with his vehicle registration and with whom Rebar had collaborated in the past.
The vulgar spoken word piece over synthetic percussion and feedback was created by entering the message into a text/voice program and hardlining it into Rebar’s computer.
“I put the soundscape to it with (the Kaossilator) in a hotel room on my laptop,” Rebar said. “The weird sounds came from me ramming the 8-inch cable in and out of my computer.”
Rebar, who also writes and performs spoken word pieces, said he is happy to create instrumental songs when a melody doesn’t cater to words but relishes in experimenting with wordplay.
“I like to do stuff that’s verbally interesting,” he said.
He and Lanieski, he said, share a similar background in that they both experienced hardship during childhood.
“We grew up kind of poor and in a trailer park,” Rebar said. “When you start out down, it can feel almost impossible to pull yourself back up. I wanted that song to convey that sense of nihilism and hopelessness.”
The EP’s final track, “Shotgun Sodomy,” is an instrumental that begins with droning, almost muffled melody but takes a turn toward elements of trance before ending in a pretty segment of acoustic guitar and ambient synth.
“The progression of the song … it almost feels like you are lost in the woods and you are listening to things happening around you,” Rebar said. “There’s a sense of terror, of being out of your element, of being watched. It ends with whimsy, because I wanted the end to be peaceful (in contrast). I wanted you to find a bit of solace even if everything around you is falling apart.”
“Wisdominatrix,” Rebar said, is an evolution from his previous solo work because he has “a lot more knowledge of sound editing” as it is a big part of his day job. “This is all conceptually linked as opposed to being a smattering of tracks.”
“It’s a verbose nest of links constructed to lead you around in a giant circle,” Rebar said. “Even the website is performance art, but we’ll make sense of it eventually.”