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September 23, 2007

Sunny Murray – Sunny’s Time Now

Filed under: Hype,Music — RadioFly @ 2:48 pm

[Jihad; 1965]

Despite the (misspelled) claim of this record’s title, it has unfortunately never really been Sunny Murray’s time. In the annals of avant-garde jazz lore, drummers are all-too-often ignored and Murray is no exception, despite the all-star company he kept. Sunny’s Time Now shows off not only that company, but also how powerful Murray’s music can be.

The musicians joining Murray for this session are Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, Henry Grimes, and Louis Worrrell. Powerful though those names are, they don’t even begin to tell the story for Sunny’s Time Now, a record that is uniquely chaotic and anarchic even in the chaotic, anarchic world of free jazz. On this outing, these five men make even Coleman’s Free Jazz seem claustrophobic by comparison. Indeed, there are no blues to be found here from Ayler, nor are any of Cherry’s African elements evident. Nonetheless, that pair deliver some positively unearthly duets, most notably on “Virtue” and “Justice,” the latter being the record’s strongest song. Cherry may not be a match for Ayler from a technical standpoint, but his inspired, creative playing pushes Ayler to new heights while managing to match the primal tenor note for discordant note.

On initial listens, Ayler understandably seems to dominate the record. The mere thought of Ayler being even more squalling than usual is enough to grab any jazz listener’s attention. Hearing it actually put into action is simply awe-inspiring. Just as awe-inspiring, if nowhere near as obvious, however, is Murray’s drumming. There’s no simple time-keeping to be found here from Murray, with his drumming sounding more like an avalanche wreaking havoc along with the thunderstorm that is Ayler and Cherry.

This album has received some criticism for LeRoi Jones’s reading on its penultimate track, “Black Art.” Regardless of what you think of the supposedly anti-semitic content, the raw anger and stark imagery of the poetry is unequivocally moving. Meanwhile, Murray abandons his role as avalanche behind the reading, instead providing subtle drumming that matches the reading in intensity. The periodic squawking from Ayler and Cherry adds an unsettling air to the piece. The final cut, “The Lie,” matches “Black Art” in ferocity without the benefit of words.

Sunny’s Time Now is as potent a document as any to come out of the New York avant-garde scene. Not only does it see Albert Ayler reach his most startling levels of primal force, but it is also the best example of a true master at work–Sunny Murray. This record is a must-hear for fans of free jazz, but be warned that it is exceedingly difficult, chaotic, and angry. This music is not to be taken lightly.

September 12, 2007

Intelligence – Icky Baby

Filed under: Hype,Music — ed the portal @ 12:37 am

[In The Red; 2005]

I typically hate trying to pigeonhole a band into a genre, and Intelligence are no exception. I’ve seen them described as dancepunk, garage, lo-fi, no-wave, and god knows what else, but nothing really does an adequate job of quantifying the energy and noise they generate. But then, this is a band that seems to set itself up as a contradiction. Throughout their sophomore LP Icky Baby, their music sounds simultaneously claustrophobic and uncontainable. The tight rhythms and relentless vigor bang up against pounding drums and fuzzy, echoing vocals to produce a peculiarly harsh but satisfying final product. As a whole however, the album is remarkably consistent and doesn’t contain any weak tracks.

“Confidence” is driven by the repeated crash of cymbals and a driving guitar that cuts in and out while the lyrics scratch out some semblance of verses and a chorus. You can’t help shaking and stirring as the band blisters through the song and, as it crashes to a halt, you’re left wanting more. As such, if there is any complaint to be made about Icky Baby, it’s that the album just flies by to quickly. The thirteen tracks run at a combined 25 minutes and leave you feeling like you been sideswiped by guitars and drums traveling at supersonic speeds. The longest song, “Cheer Up Switch,” clocks in at just under three minutes and is a slower, grinding outburst of sloppy, electronic noises and feedback. Still, the energetic vocals and closed-in sound generate a feeling that you’re racing along uncontrollably.

All together, the album is marked by an impressive songwriting and musical ability that makes Intelligence a very promising and exciting band. The band is already on an amazing label and their forthcoming release Deuteronomy (due some time this month) promises to provide more of the same greatness as Icky Baby.

“Cheer Up Switch” and a couple songs off of Deuteronomy can be heard on myspace at http://www.myspace.com/theworldisadrag

September 11, 2007

Supersilent – 6

Filed under: Hype,Music — rkodrzy @ 4:38 am

[Rune Grammofon; 2003]
Imagine a singular sound, surrounded by endless leagues of nothingness in every direction. A cluster of waves with nothing above, below, or around it. There is nowhere to go, but infinite possibilites of how to do so. No rules or restrictions, just free-flowing audio waves which roam at their own will through space. And so this is how the music on Supersilent’s 6 behaves. As each track progresses, each individual musician pushes this figurative shape of sound outward and around in whatever direction they see fit. Occasionally everyone will go seperate places altogether and all at the same time, expanding the musical scupture in an array of directions. Other times, all of the players will join together in painting and pulling the sound towards a single area across the vast empty canvas that they begin with.

The key to enjoying this music is to be able to sit and let these spontaneously constructed audio formations play out in your head, content to allow the music take you wherever it sees fit. The band members seem to hold this same idea, as they never rehearse or compose any of the tracks that appear on their albums, or even converse amongst themselves verbally about ideas, but rather prefer to just let the music carry them through lengthy improvisations as if it has a mind of it’s own, an invisible conductor sending wordless commands to each of its four limbs to create beautiful sounds through their interplay.

Take for example “6.4,” which is perhaps the strongest track on this album. It follows the simple idea that a lot of post-rock holds, which is to start quiet and build to a climax (or two, or whatever). Supersilent, however, goes about this task in a different way than your Godspeed You Black Emperors and Explosions in the Skys. There is not a definite rise to said climax, and the music is not focused on getting there. Rather, it is focused on creating a warm aura of sound that is positively teeming with life. What happens is that it is bursting with so much life, joy, sadness, wonder, and energy that it just naturally reaches a climax on its own, as if it’s not even a choice made by the musicians.

I would reccomend this album to anyone who has interests in jazz, ambient, and post-rock, though this music manages to take all of these ingredients and create something completely new and different. 6 is absolutely inspiring to me because it represents music at its most basic level. People just feeling out each other and their surroundings on the spot and creating spontaneous songs to represent all of these unspoken interactions and feelings.

Keep a lookout for their upcoming album 8 (7 is a live DVD performance), which is supposedly coming out 9/17/07. If their recent career trend proves anything, then it will be a great album.

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