223

Last Exit: Koln

John Eyles By

Sign in to view read count
Last Exit: Koln A re-release such as this provides an opportunity to stand back, draw breath, and reassess. Many listeners may still remember the combination of shock and adrenalin-induced thrill you got when you first heard Last Exit. You may now also be shocked to learn that the group's debut was some twenty years ago. Koln features the foursome's recorded debut, captured on February 12, 1986 (four days before the tracks on Last Exit, the group's first release).

Some fans will give you the conventional wisdom that Last Exit combined rock rhythms with the energy and intensity of freely improvised blowing into a wall of noise that changed improvised music forever. In fact, that's an oversimplification. In its personnel, Last Exit was a "supergroup" (ugh!) that combined Bill Laswell's rock/funk/dub aesthetic with Shannon Jackson's free jazz to produce a powerhouse rhythm section over which Sonny Sharrock and Peter Brötzmann ripped and roared. Although the music was totally improvised, Laswell and Jackson were the kind of rhythm section that had never been heard in improv.

In fact, Last Exit almost had a split personality, depending on whether or not Brötzmann was playing. For overwhelming evidence, listen to "Hard School" (the titles were well chosen; they eloquently convey the group ethos—hard school, indeed). Some ten minutes into the performance, the trio of Laswell, Jackson, and Sharrock hits a groove and sticks with it, effortlessly producing improv you can dance to. The re-entrance of Brötzmann shatters that groove as he blows with characteristic energy and abandon, seemingly oblivious to the others. The same thing happens again on "Last Call."

Whenever Brötzmann plays, the archetypal Last Exit emerges, purveyors of full-on high energy noise guaranteed to scare the children. But these passages alternate with trio passages that act as a form of respite and are more subdued and lyrical. Sometimes, Brötzmann's entrance can feel intrusive, even destructive, so overwhelming is his presence and so dominant his playing; he never attempts to adapt to the trio, he just blows the others away.

It is incredible to think that these recordings were made some twenty years ago; this music has a timeless quality and its influence has been immense in the decades since it was recorded, on groups like Napalm Death, Naked City, Aufgehoben No Process, and others.

Last Exit remains as in your face and impossible to ignore as ever.


Track Listing: Hard School; Brain Damage; Taking A Beating; Last Call; Dark Heart.

Personnel: Peter Br

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Atavistic Worldwide | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Three Miles From Avalon" CD/LP/Track Review Three Miles From Avalon
by Doug Collette
Published: October 15, 2016
Read "Amorandom" CD/LP/Track Review Amorandom
by Roger Farbey
Published: March 3, 2016
Read "Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny" CD/LP/Track Review Cuong Vu Trio Meets Pat Metheny
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 5, 2016
Read "Conversations About Not Eating Meat" CD/LP/Track Review Conversations About Not Eating Meat
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 13, 2016
Read "Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review Volume 1
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "Expanding Heart" CD/LP/Track Review Expanding Heart
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!