The Left Hand Path

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A Column

Fashion: turn to the right! Fashion: turn to the right! Beep beep! We are the goon squad and we’re coming to town. Beep beep!

“History repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce” – Karl Marx

The currency of hate is on the rise. According to The Independent: “The number of hate crimes recorded for the last two weeks in June has spiked by 42 per cent on this time last year. A total of 3,076 incidents were recorded across the country between 16 and 30 June – a dramatic increase on the 915 reports recorded over the same period in 2015.The biggest number of recorded incidents came on 25 June – the day after the result of the EU referendum – when there were 289 hate crime related incidents.

As a lifelong socialist; a progressive Marxist; an advocate for social justice; and a humanist, recent events in the country of my birth have left me sad, angry, and fundamentally ashamed to be ‘British’. However, I’m not going to bleat on about the injustice of the referendum; the uber-power of the elite; the malign influence of hegemonic media control; or the seemingly unenlightened perspectives of my fellow country people. The result stands: only a progressive alliance can stem the march of the right, argues George Monbiot: “Unless something drastic and decisive happens, the next election threatens to become a contest between the Tories and Ukip: in other words, between rightwing technocrats owned by the banks and rightwing demagogues owned by Arron Banks. What is this drastic something? A progressive alliance”.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/05/labour-survive-governing-alone-political-alliance-unity-british-left-power

The Left Hand Path is thus the path I have made by walking it: from the awakening of my political/social consciousness, back at the height of the punk wars in late 70s Britain, to this very day. If that pathway has an accompanying soundtrack, circa July 2016, that soundtrack is the desolate despondency and harrowing beauty of Ustalost, Ancion, and the roster of artists huddled around the House Of First Light milieu.

Ustalost, the new side-project from Brooklyn, New York’s Will Skarstad (Yellow Eyes), has issued its opening statement of intent: ‘The Spoor of Vipers’, an album that flaunts the signature songwriting skills of Skarstad, yet delivers a distinctly different flavour of desperation to anything that has come before it. ‘SOV’ is a vaguely unnerving prospect: one rapt with the suggestion of both the justified, and the ancient. Baroque keyboards and arpeggiated guitars sliver and weave through the gloom, shimmering and shining from an essentially bright mix. The bass guitar has a lightness of touch that is vivacious in places. The threat of impending violence that underpins the core of Yellow Eyes work is here replaced with a veil of sombre despair. Rhythmically, the album crawls along at mid-tempo, piling tension upon tension to oppress the listener with weighty images of hopeless dread. Appearing through the miasma like rods of lightening from the heavens, moments of melody issue forth from the quagmire. It’s these elements that ultimately shape the record: Ustalost indeed share much with Yellow Eyes, but they create something ultimately unique from said palate. ‘SOV’ is currently available on cassette or d/l from the link below; Sibir Records; and expected on vinyl from Gilead Media before the year dies.

https://ustalost.bandcamp.com

http://www.sibirrecords.com

Progressing thematically, we embrace ‘Exegeses’ (Gilead Media), the debut full-length from Brooklyn black metal band, Anicon. Nolan Voss and Owen Rundquist began sparring together for what would become this band back in 2010. The duo originally planned to name their first EP ‘Anicon’, with the project itself remaining untitled. The experiment exponentially expanded into a full band, however, with the recruitment of drummer Lev Weinstein (Krallice) and bassist Alexander DeMaria (Yellow Eyes). ‘Exegeses’ has developed ergonomically over the last two years, building on the triumph of May 2015’s ‘Aphasia’ EP. ‘Exegeqes’ represents somewhat of a rebirth for Anicon. Although extant champions of the USBM sub-genre, their approach delves deeper into the alchemical, conjuring elaborate composition from the cauldron of the ancient Northern European templates that define black metal fundamentally. ‘Exegeses’ was recorded, mixed, and mastered by Colin Marston (Krallice) at Menegroth in November 2015. A triumph from beginning to end.

https://anicon.bandcamp.com

https://gileadmedia.bandcamp.com/album/exegeses

House of First Light, finally, are at war with the existant, its defenders, and its false critics (an attitude we here at tMx both respect and share). Through the music of Hand Of Glory, Imperial Trumpet, Sanguine Eagle, Vilkacis, Vorde, Mongrel, and a handful of comrades in dark arms, this NYC micro label has close association with the likes of Yellow Eyes, Vanum and Krallice. trakMARX is reliably assured that a compilation record is imminent, and that a bandcamp page will rocket from the tomb to improve HOFL’s hitherto compromised communication skills to allow aficionados of the left hand path unfettered access to the blackened magic of this New York horde.

http://www.houseoffirstlight.com

Jean Encoule - July 10th, 2016

All The Colours Under The Sun

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A Column 

Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau . . .

Mats Gustafsson and the expanded Fire! trio return once again as Fire! Orchestra, with their third full length: ‘Ritual’ (Rune Grammofon). Contracted slightly on this outing to a 21-piece ensemble, conducted by Gustafsson, and inspired by texts written by Erik Lindgren, ‘Ritual’ is a double white-wax edifice, performed in five suites of semi-improvisational spontaneity. Gustafsson had hinted at the wanderlust of ‘Ritual’ when we’d spoken briefly at Cafe Oto in March, and I can duly confirm that my subsequent anticipation has been worth the agonising wait. Recorded and produced in a mere two days of studio time, this fact alone is testament to both the alchemical skills of the players assembled here, as well as the demands placed upon their own individual schedules by external projects. Thematically, ‘Ritual’ focusses on mystery: the rituals of music, the rituals of life. The majestic twin vocals of Mariam Wallentin and Sofia Jernberg; the oscillating electronics of Andreas Berthling; the propulsive drumming of Andreas Werliin and Mads Forsby; the massed saxophones of Anna Högberg, Mette Rasmussen, Lotte Anker, Jonas Kullhammar and Gustafson himself; the squaling guitars of Julien Deprez and Finn Lobo, all conspire as one gargantuan slab of free jazz-led, Sun Ra-tinged, psychedelic collapse, that thrills from beginning to end. Shuddering from climax to climax, ‘Ritual’ rises and falls in bi-polar fashion. Good cop/bad cop, light and shade. There is so much going on here that even a few weeks into exposure, there is promise aplenty buried within.

http://earthwindand.com/wp/

Icepick, a trio comprised of Nate Wooley (trumpet), Ingebrigt Haker-Flaten (double bass) & Chris Corsano (drums), follow-up their lo-fi live cassette-only debut, ‘Hexane’ (Astral Spirits), with this fidelity-conscious twelve: ‘Amaranth’ (Astral Spirits). Recorded in a single day in Austin, Texas, by Ian Rundell (Ghetto Ghouls), ‘Amaranth’ builds upon the foundations laid by said debut cassette, to free-sculpt three impressive compositions from the stone of free jazz improvisation. The ghost of Texan-expat Ornette Coleman haunts these grooves, but this is still far from traditionalist faire. Ominous passages klank and klang; melodies are ripped from the sonic darkness to lighten the palette; the bottom end rumbles and rolls, as Corsano darts in and out of the gaps on the park, filling the ambience with menace. ‘Amaranth’ announces Icepick as a force to be reckoned with, and Astral Spirits as a label of bravery and invention. In these conformist times, we surely need all the variation we can get.

http://monofonuspress.com/store/icepick-3

Welsh double bassist and composer, Huw V Williams, has dropped one of the finest albums of the year thus far with ‘Hon’ (Self-Released). Complimented by trumpeter Laura Jurd, pianist Elliot Galvin, tenor saxophonist Alam Nathoo and drummer Pete Ibbetson, ‘Hon’ spreads pastes of Coleman and Ayler across nine slices from an electic musical timeline. Raised on a diet of indie landfill in his formative years growing up in Wales, his mind blown by the possibility of free jazz on his eventual escape to the big city, Williams’ compositions reflect this juxtaposition to forge a unique perspective that captivates from the first listen. ‘Hon’ is an incredibly warm record that embraces the twin-worlds of Williams’ influences so proportionally that the results prove to be as alluring as they are generationally representative.

https://huwvwilliams1.bandcamp.com

Sloth Racket, a quintet featuring Cath Roberts (baritone saxophone), Sam Andreae (tenor saxophone), Anton Hunter (guitar), Seth Bennett (bass) and Johnny Hunter (drums), are not particularly slothful, it must be said. They do, however, make once glorious heck of a racket. The three pieces that comprise their debut CDR, ‘Triptych’ (Self-Released), explore freedom and structure, utilising compositions by Roberts that are as psychedelic as they are free jazz; as garage as they are concert hall. These improvisational upstarts are being hailed as the heirs to the throne of skronk, and it’s easy to see why. This is a hair-raising debut, extemporising algebraic approaches to molten form in an accessible yet angular fashion.

https://slothracket.bandcamp.com/album/triptych

Cluster‘s legacy remains potent, decades beyond their halcyon era. The German core-duo of Hans-Joachim Roedelius and Dieter Moebius have their 1971-1981 output collected magnificently here with ‘Boxset’ (Bureau B). Representing the first decade of Cluster, this collection of eight original albums adds one bonus record documenting the live performances of the duo: ‘Cluster 71′ (Philips, 1971); ‘Cluster II’ (Brain, 1972); ‘Zuckerzeit’ (Brain, 1972); ‘Sowiesoso’ (Sky, 1976); ‘Cluster And Eno’ (Sky, 1977); ‘Eno, Moebius, Roedelius – After The Heat’ (Sky, 1978); ‘Grosses Wasser’ (Sky, 1979); Curiosum (Sky, 1981) and ‘Konzerte 1972/1977 (Previously Unreleased). The record’s sleeves have been designed after the colors of the legendary first album (Cluster 71). The original typo has been used, blue is the dominant colour, and the single LP sleeves use the variety of light yellow to dark red/brown which can be seen on the Cluster 71 cover art. The set includes a 12″ by 12″ booklet with essays on each release, along with the original album’s artwork. The albums have all been remastered by Willem Makkee, using a variety of original master tapes (from 1/4 to beta). Alongside previous collections from both Harmonia and Neu! in recent years, this beautiful boxset places Cluster firmly at the heart of an era in German music that still resonates to this day. The influence of Krautrock reverberates at the core of post-modern avante garde electronica, circa now, and the investment represented by this set is testament to its longevity.

https://shop.tapeterecords.com/new/cluster-1979-1981-9-album-boxset.html

Mythic Sunship, a quartet hailing from Copenhagen, eschew the Sun Ra meets Coltrane implications of their moniker for some heads-down, no-nonsense Wümme boogie. Coming on like a Münich-based Eternal Tapestry, Mythic Sunship drill their groove to the floor with cavernous basement foundations, and ride their trip all the way to the further reaches on the universe. Featuring  Frederick Denning, of F.E. Denning/Descension Orchestra infamy, alongside a trio of fellow courtesans of the Posh Isolation/Mayhem scene, Mythic Sunship couldn’t be more unrepresentative of said milieu. ‘Ouroboros’, their debut album, excuses itself while it kisses the sky, recalling Amon Düül II’s defiant dedication to sonic expansion.

http://www.elparaisorecords.com/releases/mythic-sunship-ouroboros-lp

Neukölln, Berlin, based Cosmic Black Metal trio Sun Worship project enduring desolate images of frozen Scandinavian forests onto white walls of fresh snow through the medium of their sophomore vinyl full length, ‘Pale Dawn’ (Golden Antenna Records). Following in the footsteps in the tundra of their 2014 triumph, ‘Elder Giants’ (Dead Section), ‘Pale Dawn’ is duly executed without recourse to pretence or theatrical overtones. The riffs are razor sharp, anthemic, retaining the minor key somnambulant grace and splendour of the best of the genre. Pressed on 180g wax, in a heavy duty tip-on style jacket with foil stamping and full size insert, ‘Pale Dawn’ looks and feel as good as it sounds.

https://sunworship.bandcamp.com

Finally this month, Greensleeves Records reissue six titles from Scientist‘s early 80s dub series. Ingeniously packaged as double vinyl sets, matching the remastered dubs with their previously estranged vocal progenitors, producers Linval Thompson and Henry ‘Junjo’ Lawes deliver crucial selections of classic Roots Radics propelled rhythms recorded at Channel One and mixed by Scientist at King Tubby’s, restored to full majesty over six double wax sets: Junjo Presents ‘Heavyweight Dub Champion’, ‘Big Showdown’, ‘The Evil Curse Of The Vampires’ and ‘Wins The World Cup’, whilst Linval Presents ‘Meets The Space Invaders’ and ‘Encounters Pac Man’. Featuring a host of iconic vocal performances by the likes of Barrington Levy, Ranking Joe, Jah Thomas, Clint Eastwood, Michael Prophet, Johnny Osborne, Wailing Souls, Sammy Dread, The Viceroys, Toyan, Eek-A-Mouse and The Meditations, amongst a shining host of others, these reissues are proving to be a revelation here in the trakMARX bunker. Imagine this approach catching on for other dub classics, such as the African Dub Almighty series, the Cry Tuff Dub Encounter series, or King Tubby Meets The Rockers Uptown. Food for thought, mobsters!

http://greensleeves.tmstor.es

Jean Encoule - May 14th, 2016

Expressway Through My Skull

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A Column

If a saxophone falls and there’s no woman there to abuse a pedal steel guitar, is it still jazz? That’s a question I found myself pondering last week in Salford, as I witnessed free-jazz legend Peter Brötzmann misuse reeds alongside unorthodox pedal steel sorceress, Heather Leigh. Promoting the duo’s remarkable debut release, ‘Ears Are Filled With Wonder’ (Not Two Records), this unlikely pair enraptured a packed Islington Mill with their stunning concoctions of improvisational beauty, expanded from 2015’s ‘On The Road’ material. As Leigh veered from clean to distorted plucking, Brötzmann blew tenor, bass, and B-flat clarinet. Leigh’s pedal steel made like Rhodri Davies‘ harp circa ‘An Air Swept Clean Of All Distance’ at the front of the set, morphing towards ‘Wound Response’ by the close. Mesmerising throughout, this was a performance of majesty from masters/mistresses of their respective arts. Brötzmann is enjoying yet another renaissance: idolised in the mid-90s by the likes of Thurston Moore, seemingly seduced by Hamid Drake’s ear-shattering backbeat; later by the 3rd generation NY/Chicago avant garde (Vandermark, O’Rourke, etc); and later still by his old euro-mates, veterans from the glory days of free musics, the man has made more comebacks than Billy Childish! It was both a pleasure and a privilege to meet a true evolutionary hero of the counterculture, keeping it real into his 70s! Old is the new young, whippersnappers.

http://www.nottwo.com/#!mw940/klg52

Having been glued to my television set for weeks throughout the early months of this year, enthralled by Icelandic noire gem, ‘Trapped’, I was beguiled enough by the program’s soundtrack to engage with it’s creators: Jóhann Jóhannsson and  Hildur Guðnadóttir. Jóhannsson, an Icelandic composer, works in minimalist, neo-classical, drone and electronic disciplines, and has scored a host of impressive movie soundtracks, most notably for ‘Theory Of Everything’ and ‘Sicario’. Guðnadóttir, on the other hand, is a fellow Icelandic cello player and singer who emerged from the forefront of the experimental pop underground, originally as a member of Icelandic envelope-stretchers, múm. Her solo work draws a broad spectrum of sounds from her cello, ranging from intimate simplicity to huge Icelandic soundscapes, augmented by her unique vocals, and subtle shades of electronica. I’ve been immersed in Guðnadóttir’s fourth solo long player, ‘Saman’ (Touch, 2014), as a consequence of all this, and I find myself trapped in a vortex of resonance.

https://hildurgudnadottir.bandcamp.com/album/saman

Both artists will be appearing at the Conway Hall, London, on 16/04/16, for a performance of Jóhannsson’s ’12 Conversations with Thilo Heinzmann’ by a quartet comprising: Thomas Gould (violin) Sara Wolstenhome (violin) Ruth Gibson (viola) and Peter Gregson (cello); and ‘Prepared Listening’, a solo contemplation composed and performed by Guðnadóttir.

http://johannjohannsson.com

http://www.hildurness.com

http://conwayhall.org.uk

Meanwhile, in another conceptual universe, alchemically created by welding Guðnadóttir’s ‘Saman’ to Áine O’Dwyer‘s ‘Music For Church Cleaners: Vol. I and II’ (MIE), Vanessa Amara, the duo of Birk Gjerlufsen and Victor Kjellerup, follow-up their 2014 vinyl debut, ‘Both of Us/King Machine’ (Posh Isolation), with ‘You’re Welcome Here’ (Posh Isolation), a work that exponentially exploits the already massive potential of their previous efforts to forge a veritable galaxy of wanderlust. Gainfully employing church organ, a string quartet, tape hiss, and a bank of justified but ancient synthesizers, ‘You’re Welcome Here’ is a suite of seven compositions that break new ground for contemporary chamber music. If much of Posh Isolation’s output has been dubbed ‘bubblegum industrial’, then this is ’emotional drone': immediate; arresting; intimidating; engaging; emotive; overwhelming; intense and affecting. This would already appear to be sold out direct from Posh Isolation, so do yourself a favour, and grab a copy from Boomkat, before it’s too late:

https://boomkat.com/products/you-re-welcome-here

Finally, April is a month pregnant with expectation for this soldier, as I avidly await the arrival of the third long player from Fire! Orchestra: ‘Ritual’ (Rune Grammofon). When I met Mats Gustafsson briefly following the recent Fire! performance at Cafe Oto, he was positively gushing with excitement at its impending release. Earlier on stage that night, his self-depreciating sense of humour had lumped both the trio and the orchestra’s work into one homogenous basket, but that’s blatantly a massive over-simplification. According to Gustafson: “this one is the bomb!”. According to Rune Grammofon: “Fire! Orchestra have outdone themselves, and produced a beast of beauty and power: extremely well executed; beautifully recorded; and produced from only two days in the studio! Free improvisations, spontaneous horns, keyboard frenzy, abstract electronics, guitar mayhem and not to forgetting those glorious twin voices of Mariam Wallentin and Sofia Jernberg. It´s about mysteries and rituals; in music and in life”.

http://www.runegrammofon.com/artists/fire_/rcd2182-fire-orchestra-ritual-2lp-cd/

Jean Encoule - April 7th, 2016

Fire! – Cafe Oto – 26/03/16

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Fire! And Water!

Fire! and water. Opposites. Attract. Sunshine. Friday. Stormy. Saturday. Two seasons in two days. The planet warming. Someone’s lying. Rain lashes. Across the central reservation. Small orange Toyata. Speeds south. Relentless. Eating the M40. Like tarmac spaghetti. Digesting miles. Cranking Miles. ‘Bitches Brew’. Spills from the speakers. Clipping the edges of distortion. The hangover kid slumbers. Somewhere in our molecules. The anticipation. Of something. Of something special. Something radical. Something radically special. Crawling. Past Euston. Past Marylebone. Onwards King’s Cross. Station to station. Heading due East. To the land of beards. To the land of cereals. Acres of tweed. And plaid. Fields of golden nuggets. Somewhere near Capital Radio. We cross the Tottenham Court Road. Rapid burst of what sounds like automatic gunfire? The hangover kid. At once alert! Shock! Awe! Two hearts. Skip beats. As one. Browning M2? An engine? A pneumatic drill? A Kango? Nothing on the radio. Silence is the code. Static strafes the airwaves. We. Will. Never. Know. Tension mounts. The traffic. The fucking traffic. Even at 8pm at night. Does this need to be somewhere sooner rather than later never end? Through Highbury and Islington. Further East. Past the Macdonald’s where the drunken lady pretended to be sober. Deep into Dalston. Up the junction. Last few hundred metres. On foot. Satnav locked onto Cafe Oto. Twenty yards. Ten yards. In the yard. In the door: 8.30pm. Digging through the crates. I could drop a pony. Easy. Coke in bottle. The hangover kid smokes. Out on the veranda. Two hundred sharp dressed shadows flit across the backlit brick walls. Mingling. Expectantly. 9pm: stage time. Polite house introduction. Ladies and gentleman: Fire! And then they are here. Mats Gustafsson (saxophone and electronics), Johan Berthling (electric bass guitar), and Andreas Werliin (drums). Attack! Attack! Werliin drops a beat. Berthling assaults his bass. Switching from pick to thumb. Dexterity personified. Gustafasson skronks. He howls. He barks. He huffs. He puffs. He blows the house down. From time to time. Squiggles. Bleeps. Sonic punctuation. Squall. Recognition. Jams lifted from ‘You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago'; much from ‘(Without Noticing)'; a soupçon of ‘She Sleeps, She Sleeps'; a cover vershun. A homage.  A tribute. A first. Apparently. ‘Would I Whip’ antagonises the audience. To sway. Perchance to groove. Caps doff. Hats at an ever-jauntier angle. Sweat drips. Heads nod. Chins be-stroked. Eyes closed in wonder. Imaginations fired. As the notes run. Wild. Fire! And skill. Placing much of what has come before on this soldier’s journey firmly in the shade. Hold on. Hold on! No more rock’n’roll. What a con. Silly little leopard skins on. Les Paul singy-song-song. Nah. Up and beyond. Over the wall. Gonna break out of this city. Another world. Another planet. The time has come. There will be no more looking over the shoulder from here on in. The future lies ahead down the highway. The past is another county. Fire! is here. Fire! is now.

http://earthwindand.com/wp/

http://matsgus.com

http://matsgus.com/discaholic_corner/

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Jean Encoule - March 27th, 2016

Not Bored!

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A column

We’ve gone on holiday by mistake!

Fire! are a Nordic psych-jazz power-trio, comprised of Mats Gustafsson (saxophones and Fender Rhodes), Johan Berthling (bass, electric guitar and Hammond organ), and Andreas Werliin (drums). Together, they weld free-jazz to post-rock with molten noise, soldering psychedelic flirtation to improvisational menace with freeform abandon.

Formed in 2009 in Stockholm, Fire! debuted on wax later that same year, with the five-track album, ‘You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago’ (Rune Grammofon). In 2010, Fire! collaborated with Jim O’Rourke, birthing ‘Fire! With Jim O’Rourke – Unreleased?’ (Rune Grammofon), twelve months later in 2011. 2012 saw further collaboration, this time with Australian multi-instrumentalist, Oren Ambarchi, resulting in the album ‘Fire! With Oren Ambarchi – In The Mouth – A Hand’ (Rune Grammofon). 2013 subsequently delivered ‘(Without Noticing)’ (Rune Grammofon), my current favourite Fire! LP, recorded and mixed at Summa, Stockholm, in the winter of 2012/2013, inspired by Bill Callahan‘s letters to Emma Bowlcut.

In 2013, Fire! were augmented by a further 28-mucicians from the Scandinavian jazz, improvisational, and avant-rock scenes, supplementing their core sound with vocals, trumpet, trombone, alto sax, tenor sax, bass sax, baritone sax clarinet, bass clarinet, guimbri, guitar, synthesizer, harmonium, piano, organ, keyboards, electronics, electric bass, acoustic bass, and drums . . . Fire! Orchestra was born. This expansion has so far born two long-players, ‘Exit!’ (Rune Grammofon, 2013) and ‘Enter!’ (Rune Grammofon, 2014), with a third, ‘Ritual’, due on Rune Grammofon on 29/04/16.

My own entry came recently, via Fire!’s 2016 album, ‘She Sleeps, She Sleeps’ (Rune Grammofon), a four-theme excursion on the flexibility of free-jazz parameters, re-imagined as drone-core. Their sparsest work to date, ‘She Sleeps, She Sleeps’ is an intoxicating abstraction, one that acts as the perfect introduction to this criminally underrated outfit.

Further digging around in the metaphorical crates led me in turn to The Thing, Gustafsson’s main squeeze, and another power-trio, this time with Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (bass) and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums). Blatantly, I jumped straight in, immediately tracking down The Thing’s most recent two-disc set, ‘Shake’ (The Thing Records/TROST). Recorded in June 2015 by Jørgen Træen at Duper studios in Bergen, Norway, and mixed by Gustafsson’s Fire! compadres, Johan Berthling and Andreas Werlin, ‘Shake’ is The Thing’s most expansive and varied album to date: a veritable smorgasbord of experimental jazz toppings.

http://matsgus.com

http://matsgus.com/discaholic_corner/

https://thingjazz.bandcamp.com

http://thethingrecords.com

http://www.runegrammofon.com

http://earthwindand.com/wp/

Further immersion in all things free-jazz finds me washed up on the northern shores of Swedish label, Omlott, home of NeutralAnna Högberg AttackPeeter UuskylaKonstruktSpjärnsvallet, Peter Brötzmann (he of ‘Machine Gun’ infamy) and Dog Life. My research into their roster is still in it’s infancy, admittedly, but I have already fallen for Anna Högberg Attack, whose s/t debut album is described by Mats Gustafsson thus:

“Attacking the now. The instant. The music. Attacking your image of what. Is. Music. Attacking the past. The history. What is now. Attack is all. Don’t hold back. Ever. Curiousness and initiative is all. And attack. The attack mode. 6-Swedes attacking it all, with a front of 3-sax players, not holding back. Attacking the mystery of it all. 6-defined personalities and creative voices with feet and minds in jazz, improvised music and related experimental matters. Togetherness. A real unit of creativity. Of poetic beauty. Anna Högberg as a modern free jazz standard bearer keeping it all together – her rich alto sax leading the ensemble into layers of high octane outbursts and sensational melodic variations. Her tone being able to cut landscapes open, to melt your brain as we know it. Check the two tenor sax axes out! Elin Forkelid Larsson and Malin Wättring knows how to attack matters – how to structure solos and ensemble work with intense warmth and melodic beauty. Seldom have I heard such warm and rich sounding tenors in Scandinavia. The time is here. The attack attack! Drummer Anna Lund punctuating the flow… attacking it all. Laying fundaments of possibilities for the others. The attack attack! Pianist Lisa Ullén adding her thorny, but detailed phrases to the picture. The picture of the attack attack.
And last but not least. The attack attack of deep sounding bass maestro Elsa Bergman. With an unusaul imagination of how to position her own language and bass lines into a collective
of attacking free jazz. Freeing the jazz. Attacking the jazz. The attack attack!”

http://www.omlott.se

Elsewhere, I’ve been banging away at Kamasi Washington‘s suitably titled ‘The Epic’ (Brainfeeder), the three-hour, triple-vinyl colossus I’ve been dipping in and out of ever since it dropped, back in May of 2015. Washington’s involvement with superstar MC Kendrick Lamar‘s ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ unsurprisingly intensified the shower of ‘End-Of Year’ plaudits that rained down on ‘The Epic’ come close of play 2015, and it’s taken me the best part of 9-months to fully digest the depth and breadth of this monster of post-modern big band jazz. Encapsulating elements of the Coltranes (John and Alice), Miles Davis, and Pharaoh Sanders, ‘The Epic’ embraces choral embellishment, sweet soul music and R&B suss, at roughly the point in time where jazz first fucked funk, as it touches every base on the way to classicism.

http://www.kamasiwashington.com

Finally, I’m being released into the community again soon to witness Fire! live at Cafe Oto on 26/03/16. Maybe I’ll see you there. Maybe I won’t.

https://www.cafeoto.co.uk/events/fire-march-2016/

Jean Encoule - March 14th, 2016