This year was so dense that somehow I feel like I only picked up portions of some labels I follow religiously. Case in point, Canadian Label Telephone Explosion has long been bringing some much needed heat with their releases, and yet this one from Jairus Sharif somehow fell out of a year when I’ve been particularly focused on spiritual, psychedelic, and free jazz. The record encompasses the spectrum, taking the listener through harrowing moments of abrasion, elation, and sonic exfoliation. The record descends on the speakers, already heavy and laden with menace and malice, but the clouds part and the soul of Water & Tools begins to take shape. The record feels like an unburdening. It’s catharsis in process, rigor and release.
As the birdsong and bliss of “Humility” fade, the record tumbles into it’s chipped bones, chewing on drones and free passages with equal hunger. The grace of the opener’s second half fades for a while as Sharif lets discomfort settle on the listener’s chest like an increasing weight. The album vacillates between these poles — moments of din and distraction, overwhelming sound from all corners and crevices, then languid pools of patience. Sharif’s weaving of industrial and noise elements into free jazz only adds to this feeling of consumption and calm. It’s the face sent into the chipper/shredder of society each day set against the composure of home once the door shuts and the shades clatter to a close. When the world isn’t watching, Water & Tools finds its center, but more often than not all eyes are on us and we’re more hackles than human. The record isn’t always easy, but it never shies away from the truth.
Support the artist. Buy it HERE.