Bleak and despairing sophomore release from Sussex coast
quartet articulately explores a personal inventory of
madness, death, loss, self-loathing and resilient honor
arrived at via lacerating wit. A document of heartbreak
and the sensibilities of vulnerability amid drizzle-filled
days of assumed and inevitable failure and self-depreciation
(aided greatly by producer Simon Raymonde of COCTEAU TWINS) as
confessed by frontman Jason Pegg, who elicits beauty in melan-
choly and melancholy behind beauty from stalwart members Sam
Hewitt (keyboards), David Woodward (bass), and James Butcher
(drums)???..???The last thing you???re expecting when you???re
looking for a window / is to see it look so grey??????
[???Wonder if the Snow???] Strings drive tracks like ???The Mind is
Evil??? with a harmonic tension, while a simplistic basic piano
line fuels ???Keep Smiling???, giving to maleficent desire ???I???d Like
to Hurt You??? and a soul-searching mitigation ???Trees in the City???.
The juxtaposition of uplifting and wonderful arrangement with the
coal-colored sentiment places Pegg???s alto to a reverent self-drama,
competing with murals of feedback, keyboards and chanting
(especially ???Come into the Darkness???) in a see-saw battle of
greenery vs. metropolis (sample the inverted Golden Rule of selfish
motivation inside ???Treat Yourself with Kindness???,,,,??????Do unto
yourself as you might wish thy will be done by someone else??????)
Melodic and majestic to the drenching limit (with superb use of
minor keys throughout)and conceived by the band in France and
Brighton, the edge here is lyrical atop a bed of raw and evocative
sonics ??? gorgeous melodics in support of forensic observations.
MITCH January 2004
Bleak and despairing sophomore release from Sussex coast
Three of the leading lights in the world of improvised music combine forces to create this
very unique release. Performing respectively on the sintir (a Morroccan bass lute usually
associated with Gnawa music), banjo and banjouke (a ukelele hybrid), and frame drum,
these remarkable musicians create a sound that is both reminiscent of traditional
instrumental Middle Eastern and African folk music and seemingly totally new at the same time. On each of the five tracks, Parker and Drake lay down a rhythmic groove while Morris freestyles over them like Earl Scruggs on crack. Innovative and hypnotic – play! DL
Another French pioneer in the realms of musique concrete
with Pierre’s Henri and Schaeffer. Parmegiani has worked
in TV/films as well, and the sounds here, whether from
his select memory…or aiming to trigger memories in
each listener…do seem to be more visual than some
other’s work. He’s got nice texture in these three long
tracks, constructed over a much longer time: 1967,
1987 and 2001. Despite those 34 years, standing aside
each other there is a flow (unlike say sci-fi movies
across a similar chronochasm). The first has more of
the explosive cut style (maybe from more primitive tape
handling). The second works loops more often, and has
voices and thus on a simple level, a more human feel
as well as time ticking in clocks and water drops. The
third and title cut is the most cinematic, including
soaring strings to underscore emotion. Add chimes
and crackling bramble, digeridoo and fanciful computer
flybys. Serve in slices, or complete.
To say this is a trio of three Robert Horry’s probably
doesn’t mean much, so I shouldn’t start the review that
way. That might mislead, like “Majorca” the leadoff cut
on this eponymous Trio S release. “Majorca” bristles w/
a Tony Conrad/Amps for Christ power, that evaporates for
the remainder of the album. It’s not bad, it’s just that
it’s like a body with a different head. The rest of the
album laps at your ears…soft raindrops on shallow pools
of sound…well the “Russian” Anthony’s River is a 20
second exception. Read Wieselman’s notes on all-natural
perceived melodies…and relax to the flow of this album.
Me, I’ll be pacing next door hoping that Trio S’ next
effort features pursued inorganic melodies…built with
more air and fire, and covered in loamier foam.
Malachi Thompson is 30 years down the AACM/Chicago
railroad tracks. This album kicks off with an “And the
Grammy goes to…” solid but glossy vibe. But along
comes “Genesis/Rebirth” the closer to Thompson’s Black
Metropolis Suite. The sweet toe-tappin’ evaporates,
and a heart-stoppin’ composition rises like a new sun
in an old sky. Slight flamenco flares arc off Harrison
Bankhead’s bass; the Africa Brass octet which earlier
were turning on dimes, polishing the bop now construct
a slow monolith for Steve Berry to ponder over…until
there’s these crazy feudal/futuristic fanfare. Then
saxist Ari Brown gets a chance to wail on this triumph
of a track. That heaviness keeps a rolling into the
thick bluesy Louis Armstrong triptych tribute. Dee
Alexander starts that on the dark side of the moan,
it then jumps a train and ends as a playful talking
blues against Berry and Brown, now on clarinet. Read
the booklet’s understory arguing against divisions of
blues versus jazz in words, the best argument is the
music… Ends up in fun at the “Mudhole.”
Avant-exotica? Much in the vein of Yoshimi’s
earlier picture disk. The other reason “Y”
is Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto, who adds a lot
of tinkling key work. Yoshimi also brings
the trumpet more to the front at times,
it has appeared a little bit in her OOIOO
project. Nuns on mescaline singing/keening
in parts…and lot’s o’ fauna doing backup
vox (birds, dogs and insects). As legend,
or perhaps just marketing, has it…this
CD was created at a temple atop Mt. Ikoma
after hiking all of the instruments up
there. (So I guess that’s an electric
piano on much of the album ;>) I prefer
the tracks where the “bamboo” percussion
makes an early entrance. En trance in
trance tranq quill trance end.
Vienna-based pianist delivers a precise and poetic
release. His quartet here includes Stefan Nemeth on
synthesizer, their interplay is like a dog and a cat
that get along…somewhat surprising and all the more
enjoyable to observe because of that. Territories are
not marked strictly, and at times prepared treatment
for Oskar blurs the line where the piano stops. Much
of the work here has a crystalline beauty; precise
stops in phrases (like question marks hanging), quick
but bright clusters, and lighter than air work on the
upper 44 keys. Deep sea bass work by Achim Tang (with
some scrubbing/bowing) and percussive punctuation by
Paul Skrepek add significantly. The invisible fifth
member of the quartet is Christoph Amman, who captured
this in a gorgeous recording, don’t miss it.
Hard to separate the irony from the gold, hard to
filter the sample from the directly generated (or
should I say degenerated) sound. Perhaps that is the
split in this war? Or could it be that Drew Daniel
and M.C. Schmidt find themselves at each other’s
throats after jetsetting about as Bjork-End BoyToys?
Well if they are each others throats, it is only to
record the sound of blood in the carotid artery
(that and music made from rabbit pelt are purportedly
among the sonic inputs at work here). Listen to their
rendition of “Stars and Stripes Forever” these guys
may be too clever for their own good. But this is
the future, sampling not as a mode of deconstruction
but rather Reconstruction. And perhaps that would
have been a more fitting title to this album of
mechano-server marches and madness? Having seen
them with her Bjorkness, I hope beyond innovation
and technique, they will help lead a rallying of
performance and presentation, a point where power
electronics is often all mouse, no man.
Science Friction is Berne’s latest group, with
some familiar figures. Marc Ducret on electric
guitar is somehow able to insert notes between
the fiery charges of Berne’s alto. He’s just a
tremendous guitarist, who we should hear more
of…his use of volume washes works well with
the keys and electronics of Craig Taborn. When
Taborn is leading, this album can prick up
some prog rock ears…but this is really an
explosive jazz album, that gets the Blue Series
nod thanks to the electronics (not just Taborn,
visit “Mrs. Subliminal” to hear Tim dabbling
in delay. Tom Rainey remains Berne’s reigning
drummer king. His looseness fits well with the
dizzying work here. I actually live for the
moments when a few of the scored bars kick in.
Those sections are hairpin tight and move
quickly in unexpected directions. “Smallfry”
is unique in its ice cracking ambience. This
is all live, no safety net.
Noise pop deluxe. Tangled hair and broken guitar
strings…pull ’em out the skin and let the lady
scream/sing. That ain’t no lady, it’s Nikki Colk.
Punky and profficient. And pile on petulant as
well. Her vocals would make a snail panic. Her
voice flails, often over a raucous chorus. Those
choruses sound like chipmunks at kung fu class.
At times Colk’s lead voice has the fideliy of
a fast-food drive-up-window. Sophomore release
from these Brighton’d whites thrills with shrill.
But it delivers….rarely relaxing the pace.
“Nothin New” is kinda dainty, “Moi” is a cuckoo
clock in a cowboy hat. “3am” is the comedown,
passed out in a grandfather clock. Lyrics read
as though lifted from diaries before sobering up.
Guitar goes 90 mph the wrong way on the xpressway
to yer skull. Don’t forget to rock?
A new release going up at the same time as
his Accumulation time capsule. Bill Callahan
has the detached disdain handed down through
various undergrounds, Velvet and otherwise.
The sharpness of his lyrics, and his acerbic
stage persona always command my attention.
The songs here are less dilapidated as he’s
got a real live band behind him, and his
fondness/fiendishness with the femme fatales
has been displaced by a love of conundrums.
There’s some solid cognitive dissonance he’s
dishing out…and “Truth Serum” and “Guiding
Light” are just well crafted.
Hot on the heels of their recent stunning live performances (one at the Hemlock and one here
at KFJC), comes this new disc from the Davis Redford Triad. ‘Code Orange? is a live collage of
performances from their Spring 2002 tour. It includes material from their prvious releases, as
well as rocked-out, electric versions of material from leader Steven Wray Lobdell’s excellent solo
album, ‘Automatic Writing By The Moon?. In addition, there are three new pieces, which will
appear onthe next DRT studio album. All the tracks are instrumental psych jams, some more
Krautrock influenced, others more middle-eastern tinged, but all driven by the unique,
effects-laden, colorful sonic attack of Lobdell and his old ES335. Overall, this certainly is worth a
spin or two, but I can’t deny that it seems a little pale in comparison to the scorching brilliance of
their recent shows. More proof that Dolphy was right. DL
Anybody who has been at KFJC for, oh, more than a week or two, should already
know that Matthew Shipp is widely regarded as the finest pianist in Jazz today.
What is, perhaps, even more impressive to me than his incredible talent as a pianist,
is the fact that he continues to explore new territories, rather than resting on his
laurels. He could easily and, quite rightly, be satisfied with the adulation of his
coll and fans and withy the fact that he, unlike the majority musicians of any style, can
make a living creating music he loves. But Shipp, through both his performances and
his work as curator of Thirsty Ear’s peerless ‘Blue Series?, continues to push his limits
and expand the concept of what Jazz is and can be. This outstanding release is the
logical ‘next step? down Shipp’s personal path of sonic exploration, in that it brings
together all the aspects of his recent recordings into a seamless mix of Jazz, beats,
and electronic music. There are tracks (3) that remind you of the organic, ambient,
post-music soundscapes of the ‘New Orbit? CD. There are tracks (2 and 4) that mix
Jazz with electronics and beats, as heard on the ‘Nu Bop? CD. The remaining
material is reminiscent of his ‘Pastoral Compusure? CD, in that fairly ‘straight ahead?
Jazz tracks combine, in a less heavy handed manner, some of the elements described
above to organically morph into a more modern, new form of Jazz. This is a brilliant
album that, truly, can (and should) be played on almost every show. Don’t be afraid of
the blue dot. Enjoy!!! DL
Having been duly impressed with, ‘Piercing The Veil?, Drake’s outstanding
2001 duo release with William Parker, I was looking forward to this release
with great anticipation. As the liner notes indicate, Drake is currently one of
the most respected percussionists in the Free Jazz scene and, like Parker, his
playing impresses in seemingly every context. Tsahar, while less known, has
been a major contributor in the NYC Free Jazz scene for the last decade or so,
through his performances and his efforts as the head of Hopscotch Records
and co-founder of the awesome Vision Festival. After the useless introduction
track, there are three lenghty tracks. Two of them (the first and third tracks)
are awesome freedom chases that are reminiscent of John Coltrane’s duo
blowouts with Rashid Ali. The first of these, ‘Soul Bodies?, starts out slowly,
with Tsahar soloing, before it really takes off; whereas the latter, ‘Heart’s Mind?
is pretty scorching from beginning to end. The second track, ‘Clay Dancers?, is
an excellent Middle-Eastern flavored piece in which Drake chants in Arabic
while playing the frame drumand Tsahar adds some very tasteful bass clarinet.
Like all but the biggest names in free jazz, Noah Howard has labored in relative obscurity for many
years, despite performing with such luminaries as Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, and Sun Ra and
having releases on such legendary labels as ESP, Freedom, and so on. On this release, Howard
leads his long-running and very tight quartet through five original compositions, including two of
his signature pieces, ‘The Blessing? and ‘Schizophrenic Blues?. Howard’s playing is crisp,
melodic, and clear: alternating intense freedom chases with passages of mournful,
Coleman-esque alto wailing. Pianist Bobby Few is also quite impressive on this date, providing an appropriate foundation in every instance for Howard’s alto flights. In fact, my only real complaint
with this release is that Few’s incredible assaults on the keyboard are often times difficult to fully
hear (and appreciate) amongst Howard and Duncan’s sonic attack; such is the nature of live to
two track recordings. Overall, a very satisfying blast of free jazz – enjoy! DL
COTI is famed producer/sound engineer on the Greek electronic
indie scene; he has 2 LPs out on of mostly ambient
electro melodics, and one more recent on that veers
toward a deep listening, gentle Moor Music / harmonious landscape.
???Crab Promenade??? is an outtake for those sessions, using a seaside
melody as backdrop, it skips along over ascetic rocks & sensual
whirlpools in an unflagging example of clean + sedate parallel melo-
harmonics/percussive electronica. Much the left-brain at the beach
to this, the left side, that is. The MUS track previously appeared on
???Little Darla Has a Treat For You V. 18???, and strolls the fashion
runway with a definite andalusian couture; subtle, stylish & serene ???
small jacket, flared skirt over layers of lace and tulle, detailed perhaps
with beaded frills and a bliss-out of pristine dimensions. Delectable,
of elaborate embroidery, as if finding a slow moment in this messy
world, ???Dexase Apagar??? is a pause of serenity in a swelter of frivolity.
Sanguine sounds from Greece and Spain.
MITCH July 2002
Improving on debut, ???Ugly But Honest???, producer Chris Walla
delivers a recording of immediate/emotional power within a
carefully balanced parameter of acoustic string instruments,
resonant lo-fi percussion and songs that are like secrets,
veiled in violin & whispered in sleeping beauteous emulsion.
CARISSA???S WEIRD founders Mat Brooke + Jean Ghetto
front this 5-piece, which also includes accordionist Jeff Hellis,
Sarah Standard on violin & drummer Ben Bridwell; having
emigrated from Tucson AZ to Seattle with dreams of wistful
contemplation (note somber tones + musical shades of grey)
and a not-to-be-outdone riffing that adds a nice low-end punch
to the material. Picks???.???Brooke Daniel???s Tiny Broken Fingers???
???I did not think those screams were for real???.??? Opening with a
woeful violin line, it arrives finally with a medical solution???.the
haunted ???The Color That Your Eyes Changed??? is a sad, blurred
waltz of elegant harmony & displacement???..???Blessed Arms That
Hold You Tight??? is Ghetto???s finest moment???.??????it???s all long good-
byes???..??? sung with such an ephemeral nondeliberation of beauty
that it becomes clear why the band scribbled out their lyrics in the
accompanying booklet???.no point in overstating the obvious.
MITCH July 2002
First release in 3 years is an on-air WBRS live recording
rom???3 years ago. Apparently under the influence of
a bong-fed Middle Eastern mood of trance throughout
this set, Boston???s CUL DE SAC contemplate a barbiturate
Buddhism in cramped quarters, extending most of these
tracks with a sort of water-from-the-moon indolence and
improv/hypno groove purely their own. Leader Glenn
Jones raises a lantern of color, texture whilst pondering
some kind of spiritual unknown washed in hues of pre-
monition so inward as to barely register as fretwork.
Heady with percussive pulse, iridescent like the night
bloom of flowers, liquid with grace and shrouded in a
dark mystery of implied electronics & obtuse trajectory.
Unerringly strange, most of these tracks are otherwise
unavailable as studio/alternate versions and add to the
canon of this unique instrumental outfit, afloat on the
most uncharted of waters. Fine form in spades.
MITCH June 2002
Mike Guarino (drums/guitar) and Jake Rodriguez (bass/
synth/vocals) have been playing together since 1995
(TOPPLE, LIVESTOCK, etc.) but it is as COMPOMICRO
DEXALL that grindcore/free jazz/punk/noise/experimental
converge in earsplitting dislocation for this free-mad duo.
Help from Jeremy Stone (synth) and Moe! Staiano (guitar)
supplements a thick, driving assault where prearranged
riffs burst with precision, flurries are predetermined and
blasts of noise occur with a megaton random & rumble.
Rodriguez (who also records as processed voice/electronics
DSP warrior THE BRAN as a solo project) has designed
sounds for Bay Area theater & was impressario for the
Clit Stop in SF; says of Guarino, ???We???ve been playing
together so long, it???s really all improv???. At times a trio in
the past (with Chris Broderick adding voice & clarinet),
CD is collage/avant/loud/chaos/meteor shower whence
pleasure is sired through pain. Sound familiar?
MITCH May 2002
Bristol septet, brash swaggery pop. Uplift mofo
horns party! And the horns are a quite sprite
French Horn (Daniel Cornfield) and Cornet (Aaron
Dewey). Sassy male/female vocals. Jenny Robinson
is the breathy, semi-sultry syllable stretcher
while Aaron Dewey is the “Speaker’s Corner” more
excitable ranter!! *Two* drummers in this…so
their sound has plenty o punch. Part of the UK’s
‘Pull the Strings’ collective. Horns kinda add
a Doc Severinsen dosed at the horse races amped
up vibe here that makes this pretty irresitable.
#11 is fancy phone freakout that tracks into the
closer. #9 is the slow dance. Right honorable
and simply smashing! -The Viceroy of Vice
12345 S. El Monte Road Los Altos Hills, California 94022
Public Inspection File