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Thollem / Mazurek – “Blind Curves and Box Canyons” – [Relative Pitch Records]

Trumpeter Rob Mazurek (Chicago Underground, Isotope 217) and electric pianist Thollem McDonas (Tsigoti, Estamos Ensemble) meet for the first time in Marfa and head for the outer limits. As might be expected from a pair of experienced improvisers with incredibly diverse interests, they hit a variety of spots along the way. It helps that Mazurek is packing a sampler, a modular synth, bells, and his prodigious voice in addition to his horn. Electric-era Miles is the obvious referent, but there are also Oval-style glitch experiments, modular synth workouts, free-folk psych freakouts, and even some “straight” free-improv. Of particular note are those moments when Mazurek’s shamanic chanting breaks through the squall, and the whole thing threatens to break itself apart. Noisy, messy, and joyous.

  • Reviewed by Phil Phactor on July 26, 2017 at 7:05 pm
  • Filed as CD,Jazz
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  • Ryan, Jim / Glenn, Jordan – “Mindless Thing” – [Edgetone Records]

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    Oakland-based percussionist and composer Jordan Glenn is a modern-day Mingus, known as much for his mastery of his chosen instrument as for his unique and compelling ensemble work (cf. BEAK, Wiener Kids). Here, he collaborates with Jim Ryan, a Bay Area poet who used to pal around with Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. Glenn’s compositions feature hammered dulcimer, vibraphone, and piano, and mesh perfectly with Ryan’s gravely, sage-like voice. The mood is mostly somber and melancholy (although watch out for T5 which works itself into a bit of a frenzy with some hand percussion and guitar pyrotechnics), and I can’t help but envision an old man alone in his castle, whiskey coursing through his veins, slowly going insane. Guaranteed to both fit in and stand out in any show. Highly recommended!

  • Reviewed by Phil Phactor on July 25, 2017 at 1:01 pm
  • Filed as CD,Jazz
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  • Cranioclast – “Iconclastar” – [Musica Maxima Magnetica]

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    Conceptual dark ambient from 1992 courtesy of two German dudes. Ominous rumblings, croaking frogs, gently wailing guitars,the occasional whispered female vocal: about as scary as that haunted house you and your friends made in 7th grade. Tracks run into each other and are divided strangely, so play on continous and dip in wherever. For fans of Barn Owl, Fennesz, Tim Hecker.

  • Reviewed by Phil Phactor on July 19, 2017 at 7:11 pm
  • Filed as A Library,CD
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