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Gutbucket: Sludge Test (2006)

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Gutbucket: Sludge Test How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The members of Gutbucket have never been satisfied with the moniker "jazz quartet," nor have they wanted to fit in with stereotypical rockers. Their sound, if it had to be categorized, should be filed under noir-jazz, or maybe klez-rock, but most likely squawk-thrash. This ambiguity shines in their third full-length album, Sludge Test.

The record has moments of guitar-driven speed metal followed by abrupt changes to odd-meter funk beats, while Ken Thomson's signature raspy tone conjures up thoughts of '50s mystery flicks. In the dirgey title track, heavy guitar chords and meandering saxophone melodies are interrupted by a two-step punk rock motif with speed metal guitar crunch. In "Trosp%, the quartet takes on a style more in tune with the prog- rock icons The Mars Volta than any other Knitting Factory regulars. Bassist Eric Rockwin cycles a trance-inducing line as drummer Paul Chuffo and Thomson explore just how much they can play over the bar line; meanwhile guitarist Ty Citerman adds just enough noise to help amplify the song's crescendo.

The giddiness of the band is slightly repressed on the recording, but in live performance, the excitement of playing this music is apparent.

Northsix, a Williamsburg noise-rock haven, is at the epicenter of new Brooklyn. Gutbucket was there last month for punk-rock stage antics and mind-blowing dexterity. Hosting a CD release party at Northsix, with lofted open space and DIY sound insulation, sent off memories to the glory days of downtown squawk—affordable rents, crime and the LES. With openers Nanuchka and Skip Matta (sexy indie rock and effect pedal beat boxing, respectively), it was a little hard to expect a traditional jazz concert.

But when the members of Gutbucket hit the stage in matching pink jerseys, their mission finally made sense. As they danced a conga line into the crowd, handed out communion and dropped a cluster bomb of baby blue balloons, the crowd had started listening and stopped trying to swing dance to klez-jazz, metal-noir or indie-instrumental. This was the sound of New Brooklyn—on acid.

Track Listing: Money Management for a Better Life; Sludge Test; Punkass Rumbledink; Circadian Mindfuck; Throsp%; Disciplining the Fugitive; Underbidder; Where Have you Gone, Mr. Squeegyman?; The Plague of the Legions; Danse de la Fureur Pour les Sept Trompettes.

Personnel: Ty Citerman: guitar; Eric Rockwin: bass; Paul Chuffo: drums; Ken Thomson: saxophone.

Record Label: Cantaloupe Music

Style: Beyond Jazz


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