Yakuza: Way Of The Dead (2002)
The modern use of the Japanese word “Yakuza” refers to organized crime or mafia. I’m quite sure the Chicago jazzcore/avant metal/psychedelia band Yakuza is actually referring the ancient usage of the word, which is “the crazy ones.”
Yakuza’s music picks up where Naked City, Faith No More, and Painkiller left off. They make music where speed metal and Sun Ra converge. Think Soundgarden with real musicians or a punk version of Hank Mobley.
The Way Of The Dead opens with a bell and some Tibetan throat singing before the drummer rumbles intro to a saxophone and crunchy guitar thrash. Then you know nothing about this disc can be pigeonholed or categorized.
Yakuza mixes punk and free jazz without allegiance to either community. They take bits and pieces from Eastern Music, and post-rock/jazz bands like Tortoise and Radiohead only to spin them into time-shifting hardcore sounds. Singer Bruce Lamont coughs out lyrics, then picks up his saxophone to duel with Chicago reedsman Ken Vandermark. Just when you think you’ve got them figured out, they lay a 43-minute spaced out groove piece on you.
Yakuza certainly are the crazy ones.
Track Listing: Vergasso; Miami Device; Yama; Signal 2.42; T.M.S.; Chicago Typewriter; Obscurity; 01000011110011.
Personnel: James Staffel
Record Label: Century Media
Style: Fringes of Jazz