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Original Silence: The Second Original Silence (2009)

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Original Silence: The Second Original Silence How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

There a certain amount of irony in calling a group Original Silence that brings together members of The Thing, Sonic Youth, ZU and The Ex. Mats Gustafsson (baritone sax, live electronics), Thurston Moore (guitar), Jim O'Rourke (electronica), Terrie X (guitar), Massimo Pupillo (electric bass) and Paal Nilssen-Love (drums) threaten the sound barrier just by being in the same room together.

The supergroup's second live album continues the onslaught begun on The First Original Silence (Smalltown Supersound, 2007), a sort of proto-improvised rock that makes no attempt at subtlety. This is Peter Brotzmann's Machine Gun electrified, with the same cathartic approach to group improvisation. Gustafsson wails above the fray, strafing the ears while Moore, Ex and O'Rourke lay down artillery fire and Pupillo and Nilssen-Love exterminate the local populace with napalm and concussion bombs.

But for all its intensity, there is some discernable arc to the proceedings, or at least a groundswell that makes the disc's four tracks—two under 10 minutes, one at 18 and another at 22—seem organic and even peaceful. The ear adjusts after a while and if you walk through Times Square not noticing the crowds, your brain probably already sounds like the music on this album. And that is presumably Original Silence's intent: to create sound that is elemental, a soundtrack to the primordial cosmological explosion.

Even without the whole group, the effect is achieved. Gustafsson and Moore played a trio set in January 2009 at New York's Rehab, nea Club Midway, with Moore's brother Gene on second guitar. With the smaller lineup—the compacted Silence?—Gustafsson's live electronics, on which he spent half the set, become more prominent, spikes shot through the layering of the Brothers Moore. When he returned to his baritone, the shrieks, flutter tonguing and percussive explosions violently stirred the already distorted martini. If this is what Moore and Gustafsson can do on their own, seeing the entire Original Silence live must require a release form.

Track Listing: Argument Left Hanging - Rubber Cement; A Sweeping Parade of Optimism - Blood Streak; High Trees & A Few Birds - A Doll's Reflection; Crepuscular Reflections - Mystery Eye.

Personnel: Mats Gustafsson: baritone sax, live electronics; Thurston Moore: guitar; Jim O'Rourke: electronica; Terrie X: guitar; Massimo Pupillo: electric bass; Paal Nilssen-Love: drums.

Record Label: Smalltown Supersound

Style: Free Improv/Avant-Garde


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