Something that makes outsider music somewhat less accessible is that some of its performers don’t seem to notice or care whether an audience is watching them. This is understandable: when you craft material that exists counterculture to the mainstream in a very real way, not the “punk rock” way, but in the “I don’t exactly know what this is” way, you sort of have to retreat inwards and just jump over the edge into the unknown bounds of creativity.
However, a sense of self awareness is what has always set Jeffrey Gallagher apart for me which may be why their music has always struck a chord even though there are no chords apparent. I have seen them perform sparingly in Massachusetts, maybe once every few years when our paths happen to cross, sometimes even when both of us are performing under different names and thus are surprised to see a familiar and friendly face.
Whenever they perform (and I might be projecting a bit) I have always thought I could see this glimmer in Gallagher’s eyes as they looked around at the audience (something I rarely see noise musicians do) wondering if people are into it. That kind of humility is almost never found alongside this kind of performance. And that’s the thing, people ARE into it whenever I see them perform, whether it’s for 5 people in a basement or for 30 people in a warehouse. Whether it is some jangly, soft spoken folk tune on a charmingly almost out of key guitar or a cassette deck performance with a bunch of random gizmos, I think that people are more into the performance because Gallagher is a bit more into the idea of there being an audience than your average experimental musician.
This earnestness and authenticity shines through on “Diamonds Off The Ocean”, as well as loads of other videos present on the youtube channel “Ticked Off Tapes”: which seems to be a multi-media creative sketch journal where Jeffrey Gallagher gives themselves permission to do whatever the hell they want. Which I think is the most authentic point at a performer’s career, when they have found the balance between diving head first into the rabbit hole, and showing us the edges, allowing us to peer down in our own time, and they are there to guide us along the way because they know the path, they have been down this road before.