112

Dwight Frizzell: Bulldog Devildog President

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Life in the Missouri's Ozarks can be quite lonely. (Trust me, I've been there.) Wooded hills and occasional lakes and streams dot a sparsely inhabited terrain devoid of any dramatic geology or biology. Dwight Frizzell takes that isolation as both a starting point and an ending point for his new record, Bulldog Devildog President. He arranges this disc around five different versions of a Black Hawk Waltz piano recording made by President Harry S Truman. For those not in the know, Truman was all set to be a professional jazz pianist before he gave up music for politics. (We should all be glad for that. Truman was a poor to mediocre player, with a granite sense of rhythm and a similarly rigid approach to melody.) Perhaps that's the reason Frizzell went crazy with it, overdubbing, distorting, and whistling along. Truman lived in Independence, Missouri, and for a time Frizzell was his neighbor... thus the unlikely connection here, more based on shared geography than shared musical vision.

The other half of Bulldog Devildog President makes significant strides beyond simple irony and parody. Frizzell harnesses a truly amazing array of musicians (and a frighteningly vast collection of instruments and found sounds; see personnel listing below) to create landscapes of sound, not far in their aesthetics from the Ozarks themselves. "Appalling Heart" combines sparse, legato soprano lyrics with groaning and wheezing noises, proceeding at a measured pace until it finally exhausts its dark, solemn mood.

The two improvised "Anamnesis" pieces dwell in a textured zone of reeds, bells, and unidentified home-made instruments, offering a similarly dark and lonely feel. The very quiet "Scrat" includes flowing water, bird-like noises, and Frizzell's gustatory contributions chewing an apple and swallowing water. These group improvisations convey a sense of mystery, isolation, and shadow. The stomping jazz denouement at the conclusion of the last track is both a statement of vicious irony and a victorious return to conventional forms... more emphasis on the former concept, to be sure.

Bullfrog Devildog President offers historical appeal for those interested in Truman's (rightly) underdocumented piano playing. It also experiments boldly at the intersection between natural sounds, found sounds, samples, and instruments in live performance. Often incredibly abstruse, this disc is quite a challenge to penetrate. To these ears, it seems like more of an experiment in progress than a clear vision brought to fruition.


Track Listing: Black Hawk Waltz 1; The Irish Wilderness; Black Hawk Waltz 2; Appalling Heart; Black Hawk Waltz 3; Anamnesis 1; Black Hawk Waltz 4; Anamnesis 2; Black Hawk Waltz 5; Scrat; Devildog.

Personnel: Dwight Frizzell: whistles, digital processors and 6-channel sound, body-dubbed heartbeat and galvanic skin response, reeds, varmint calls, zwoom, contra-alto clarinet, masticating and swallowing sounds, baritone and alto saxophones; P. Alonzo Conway: bassoon, percussion, radio; Thomas Aber: bagpipes, bass and contra-alto clarinets; Patricia Johnson: soprano; Tony Allard: body vocalizations; Jim Cottingham: Chapman stick, electric guitar; Clive Graham: original electro-acoustic instruments; Knut Aufermann: sampler; Adam Bowman: multifarious amplified objects; Jonathan Bowman: amplified/acoustic objects and prepared tapes; Cliff Caruthers: flutes, bottlecaps; Stephen Elisa: cello; Lyra Pherigo: flute, dog whistle; Jan Faidley: alto saxophone; Ingrid Stolzel: audio oscillators; Dr. Marc Deckard: Tesla coil; Mark Lowry: percussion; Pat Ireland: electric violins; Eric George: electric basses; Arnold Young: drums.

Title: Bulldog Devildog President | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Sparkling Beatnik Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Kurrent CD/LP/Track Review Kurrent
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Duets CD/LP/Track Review Duets
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 17, 2017
Read Rev CD/LP/Track Review Rev
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1 CD/LP/Track Review The Frequency Modulators Orchestra, Vol. 1
by Jim Olin
Published: October 17, 2017
Read The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren CD/LP/Track Review The Adventures of Zodd Zundgren
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 16, 2017
Read Any Other Way CD/LP/Track Review Any Other Way
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 16, 2017
Read "Mount Meander" CD/LP/Track Review Mount Meander
by John Sharpe
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "Festen" CD/LP/Track Review Festen
by John Sharpe
Published: November 12, 2016
Read "Sing House" CD/LP/Track Review Sing House
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 30, 2017
Read "Circles" CD/LP/Track Review Circles
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "WAHOO!" CD/LP/Track Review WAHOO!
by Greg Simmons
Published: February 13, 2017
Read "Ullr" CD/LP/Track Review Ullr
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 8, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.