Posts Tagged ‘Free Jazz’

Paisiel

Ramping up their focus from three massive tracks to one double-sided statement, Portuguese-German duo Paisiel rake the listener over an emotionally fraught trek on Unconscious Death Wishes. The title gives off a sinister air and the band doesn’t shy away from the angst inherent in that notion. The composition moves from stark, nervous synth rising in the darkness to the skittering rhythm that marked their last album. The drums don’t give much relief from the tension though, as they ring out like barking threats from just past a circle of light and security; the listener crouched in the wilderness that the pair have presented. Paisiel know there’s danger looming and with that title in mind, maybe they’re inching closer towards it out of irrepressible curiosity or maybe out of an unconscious need to let chaos do its work.

João Pais Filipe’s rhythms play coy until around the 12-13 minute mark when they become all encompassing, fighting Julius Gabriel’s sax heat for attention in the speakers. The pair become locked in a dizzying tempest of swirling, slashing phrases and knotted beats. Gabriel’s sax lines begin to unravel, howling and pawing at the air. The atmosphere grows thick with danger, dread, and pheromones that say fight or perish. Somehow the duo and the listener make it through the feeling of steel and bone against the neck skating to an ending that’s not necessarily serene, but not actively in peril. The vibes as the sun sets on the record are tensed and ready to fight the unseen dangers once more. Sleep doesn’t seem forthcoming, and the metallic taste of adrenaline is both a reminder of what transpired and of what might be again.



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Mac Blackout – “Wandering Spheres”

Last time I left Chicago’s Mac Blackout he was burning a pound or so of ozone through the garage-punk stratosphere round about 2017 but in the interim it seems that Mark McKenzie had swapped out the monicker for a new nombre, Armageddon Experimental Band and began dabbling in free jazz and cacophonic float along the same lay lines. Now he’s back with the name Blackout but the garage has been cleared of the grit but packed full of what Armageddon left behind. The new Blackout blends the experimental bent of AEB’s past few years with a bit more heft on the hammer. The first cut from the upcoming Love Profess blasts out of the barrel with McKenzie swapping his guitatr for sax and letting a sinister swelter take over in place of guitar fury. “Wandering Spheres” sees Blackout piping in a low rumble of synth growl and delicate electric piano to McKenzie’s aching sax workout. This certainly isn’t the Blackout you were expecting, but in a year when the ground shifts on an hourly basis, perhaps its the Blackout we need. The record is out November 27th on Trouble in Mind.



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Patrick Shiroishi

There’s a heaviness to Patrick Shiroishi’s solo debut for Thin Wrist — both in the music itself and the inspiration behind it. The artist began the project with a focus on Japanese internment camps during the second World War, ones in which his own grandparents had been held. The bridge to the present was not a far one to cross, tying the border camps of the current administration to those since regretted and admonished for public record. Doesn’t seem like the lessons of the past carry a long enough shadow, though and Shiroishi turns improvisation into a conduit for feelings too overwhelming to plot out in advance. Tying in American homegrown hypocrisy to atrocities abroad — “The record is a representation of how I had been processing the horrors of the present…the sadness of the loss of life not only in the states but through the genocides in Sudan, Myanmar, Iraq and Syria, says Shiroishi, and it’s clear that within the pieces frustration wells up to the point of physical pain.

As a player, Shiroishi is a consummate collaborator, having found himself among ranks with Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Danketsu 10, Borasisi, Nakata, Kogarashi; Komeshi Trio, and leading Womb, Oort Smog, and Upsilon Acrux among others. Here, though, the only focus is Shiroishi, his sax and a smear of electronics that submerge the strident blasts from his instrument in a mire of undulating despair and euphoric release. Descnecion is a visceral listen and Shiroishi seems to have planned it as such. The pieces are laid out in the order that he recorded them, improvised on the spot and only framed by the embellishments later on. The rest is an outpouring of grief, anger, broken trust, shame, frustration, and resilience. The Nation is currently bubbling over and more than a few are reaching a breaking point. Shiroishi’s vision is just a few months ahead of the wave, but his historically charged context holds as true as ever for an expression of disillusionment with the structures that are inflicted upon us and institutions that carry out crimes in our names. This might well be the soundtrack of the summer.




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Sunwatchers

Sunwatchers continue their devastating streak of the past few years with an album that becomes the balm and the irritant. Oh Yeah? (a delightful pun on their Cool Brave mascot there) is a reflection of turbulent times and the scream into the ether in which to deal with them all at once. While blunt lyricism has its place, there’s also just as overt a necessity for an album that captures the dozens of daily, weekly, and monthly moments of frustration and repels them with a sonic squall that’s caustic and complete. If our current moment has taught us anything it’s that we’re so often at a loss for words these days that the emotional behemoth of 2020 could only benefit from the rhythmic riot and tectonic fury of Sunwatchers. We can only feel truly alive after the baptism of McHugh’s sunstroke riffs and Tobias’ fevered runs. We can begin to live a little lost in the insistent throb of bass and drums flung far into the trance of abandon.

The band leaves melted tire tracks on the crossroads of psych and jazz — never entirely letting themselves choose a single path. The interplay between the members is symbiotic and psychic. They barrel through the barriers like Pharaoh sitting in with Earthless and then push it through the heart of the sun. Much like the block party burndown happening across the Atlantic in Mythic Sunship, Sunwatchers are smelting liquid chaos and tilting the kettle over the agencies that seek to stifle us all in this age of horrors. Riffs lock in and settle into a layer of hypnotism before they’re torn apart from the DNA on down. The band is, as ever, a socio-political powerhouse with a sense of humor, just the kind of talismans we need in an age when we’d be content to yell into the void, if the void hadn’t come home to stay. This one will shake up your year, so grab a helmet and head on in.



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Sunwatchers – “Sunwatchers vs. Tooth Decay”

After a damn near perfect run of jazz-psych barrel-rolls over the last few years, Sunwatchers are set to sear their name into the scrolls with Oh Yeah?. The title seems like both a question of incredulity (which is apt given the world climate of the past few years) and a statement of challenge. If it’s indeed a challenge, then Sunwatchers are more than up to it. They open the track with the flamethrower force of brass and then lockdown the rhythmic fire. The band’s socio-political agenda has long been tied into their ethos and the aura that surrounds them, though they match it with a winking humor that leads them to adopt the Kool-Aid man as a personal talisman and inspires them to tag their album opener with a sly reference to Muhammed Ali sparring with cavities in the ‘70s. Where they truly excel is at funneling their frustration into a porridge-thick ballast of rhythm and riff holding onto tumultuous psychedelia, burning the doubting hearts of anyone close to crossing them. Don’t let the in-jokes fool you. The band doesn’t come to play lightly. Oh Yeah? lands on Trouble in Mind.

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Mythic Sunship

After a year of letting it ferment, Mythic Sunship’s last album Another Shape of Psychedelic Music is still reorganizing the molecules in my body. The band had long been working to ferret out the thunder and squall from heavy psychedelics, but their addition of saxophonist Søren Skov pushed them into a zone that swiped at free jazz and rolled the burnt sensibilities of the genres together with a renewed vigor. The songs begged to be played live, as the feeling that the band could push these songs beyond the bounds of the studio seemed readily apparent. Now, that’s just what the band along with El Paraiso have done. Mythic Sunship locked down three nights at Roadburn’s yearly gathering of psychedelic shred in Tilburg and the most adventurous night was pressed down to LP.

The live performance doesn’t shy away from the expectations put forth by the studio LP. They work through ferocious and fuming renditions of “Way Ahead” and “Elevation,” but rather than simply expand on the collaborations they’d already done with Skov, they pushed even further. They spend the rest of the set working through new cuts that scrape the cosmos and scar them with a phalanx of sax singe and the titanic rumble of the band’s rhythm section. Too often Mythic Sunship seems to be left out of conversations Stateside that include both psych and free jazz, and this set proves that they should not only be included but at the forefront.



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Mythic Sunship – “Awakening”

Two years back Mythic Sunship released an album called Another Shape of Psychedelic Music, a bold title that the record lived up to easily. The band had long been carving out a niche in exploratory space-psych, but they added saxophonist Søren Skov to the mix and the record dived deep into the vibrations of free jazz and added them to the top of their bottled fury. As the band embarked on Roadburn the following year they uncorked the bottle fully, bringing Skov along for three nights of psychedelic singe. The set included a couple of tracks from their previous album but also adds three more new collaborations, mutating into a chemical burn of blast-force sonics that need to be heard to be understood. Thankfully all three nights were captured, the best of which is being presented by El Paraiso to commemorate the band’s mercurial manifestation right there on the stages of Tilburg.

The band sent over the opening cut to Changing Shapes, one of the new debuts of the night called “Awakening.” The track creeps out of the caverns slow and sinister before exploding into a ball of gaseous flame. A necessary listen for the start of 2020. The new LP is out January 17th and is, naturally, quite recommended.

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Prana Crafter’s Will Sol on Terry Riley, Don Cherry, Karl Berger ‎– Live In Köln 23.2.1975

Last year Prana Crafter’s Will Sol released two vital parch-folk LPs for Beyond Beyond is Beyond and Sunrise Ocean Bender, both showcasing his mossy, forest-folk prowess mixed with a tenancy to scratch that wooded habit with the key to the cosmos. He’s pushed the cosmic tendencies even further this year with a split with Tarotplane that uses one side of a 12” to wind his folk into kosmiche delights. It seemed only natural, then to ask Will to contribute a pick to the Hidden Gems series and see what’s driven his sound. Will’s picked a ’75 collaboration from Terry Riley and Don Cherry that picks at a peirod that pushed both artists catalogs to in new and interesting directions. Check out how this came into Will’s live and what impact it’s had on his music.

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Whistling Arrow – “Forking Paths”

This Heat founder Charles Hayward has been having a hell of a year, with an acclaimed solo record, collaboration with Keiji Haino and now this simmering new LP on the way from Whistling Arrow. The band alongside Hayward is made up of Laura Cannell, Andre Bosman plus members of Ex-Easter Island Head on prepared guitars. The track strains and stretches, rumbles through rhythm and bites into the flesh of experimental and classical canons. The ensemble builds their disjointed cacophony with a nod to invisible funk – possibly only existing in the mind, filtering between the bars. There’s a sense of dance arcing over the track, bones of jazz that tumble to the floor the instant the strings start to get caught in the beast’s teeth. It’s definitely got me curious how the rest of this will shake out. Check the track below and look out for Forking Paths November 22nd on God Unknown.



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Sunwatchers – “Greeneyed Pigmen (Get The Blade)”

There’s no better moment in time than for a band like Sunwatchers to exist than at the apex of culture and confusion that is 2019. The band’s sociopolitical leanings and egalitarian ethics welded to a psych-punk soul are only more confounded by the band’s dual love for free jazz tumult. Without an ounce of reservation they rain down fire on an audience that needs a good shot in the ribs every now and then to stay on task, because if Sunwatchers are anything, it’s hard to ignore. The second offering from their upcoming Illegal Moves barrels out of the gate with a getaway gusto, scattering scraps of Hawkwind LPs along the roadside and fueling the tank on the fumes of Mnehiro Narita and Kawabata Mokoto guitar solos. “Greeneyed Pigmen (Get The Blade)” is as cutting as anything the band have rattling around their catalog, and as usual the lightning strike of Jeff Tobias’ sax finishes the listener with precision panache. Gonna want to pick this one up in all its furious glory when it drops on Feb. 22nd.



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