Outside of certain circles, the Western Mass free improv scene doesn’t always get the accolades it deserves. Step a few notches above this site’s reach and there’s less digging into the layers of the Pioneer Valley burndown, which is a damn shame. Bridge of Flowers have been forged in that fire, hammering out shows at Bellwether Records and issuing their first releases on local legends Feeding Tube. Now, with a new album on the way the band finds themselves on another vaunted label, rounding out the newly reinvigorated free rock arm of ESP-Disc. Despite their new surroundings in the tempest of free jazz, A Soft Day’s Night actually locks onto a (slightly) more planned plane of existence. They leave behind a bit of the demo-detritus of some of their early Tube releases in favor a push-pull that’s chomping on the live-wire itch of The Embarrassment, the fever-flushed country stumble of Mekons, or the blast radius chaos of The Godz or The Fugs if they’d been working out their demons in the late ‘80s rather than the mid ‘60s.
That said, the band still lets their songs flow rather than connect the dots too closely — instincts locked over years in the live setting are shaved and shorn to tape, but still charged with the same duct-taped n’ damaged amp-wired energy that’s bound to singe the listener at any time. While the band feels out the ragged shapes of the soul though crushed aluminum riffs, lyrically they touch on themes of loneliness, regret, social discomfort, and abandonment. The shattered shield of their songs runs deep — a record that’s all hackles and hammers, never quite letting the listener past their defenses unless its to melt a few synapses with the exposed filament of guitar and the caustic rub of harmolodic bass. There’s a contained chaos to A Soft Day’s Night and that’s its greatest asset. A lot of records are gonna help you heal the pain, but Bridge of Flowers might leave a few scars in the process.
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