"Mostly, this is the sound of half-awake dreams, phantasmic moments of glowing red dawn," guitarist Steve Raegele writes in the liner notes to Last Century. "I think of these songs as having been created by reaching out from a moving train to grab onto shapes that would be lost in the blur."
As those lines suggest, there's little melody here, just snatches of ringing guitar that rise out of primordial, electronic ooze. Heavy on atmospherics and space, the music drifts over a haunting, troubling landscape, allowing Raegele's sharp metallic lines to startle and cut as they're unleashed from the shadows. Likewise, drummer Thom Gossage's flurries knock with added force, owing to the dense, nightmarish buzzing from which they erupt.
Raegele opens the album with the five-minute title-track drone, grafted here and there by bright shots off the triangle. It cleans the slate, perhaps making way for music of the new century. Yet (in the composition titles, at least) Raegele is prone to look back over the previous 100 yearsoften to its pop cultureinstead of ahead, splicing those gazes with short, crunching odes to mythological beings. But what separates or joins these time lapses is never made clear, and, no doubt, intentionally so. Ultimately, it's time and space that are on trial here: "Find in [this music] gestures big and small ... shapes in the clouds ... the Virgin Mary in your morning toast ... patterns and codes to be perceived and broken, in that order," Raegele writes.
So the guitarist is open to mixing "a deep seated 90s RnB track" with "faux-Debussy impressionism" on "Janet Jackson" and to allowing four barely distinguishable, humming chords to guide "Pareidolia," opening from bassist Miles Perkin's dark, echoing tones into a jungle of guitar and drum clatter and out finally on the not-altogether-calming lullaby struck from a piece of metal in Gossage's arsenal.
Still, whether Raegele's wonderfully textured and wonderfully disturbing music is meant to cap the turbulent 20th century or reveal a century yet to comein other words, the last centuryremains a mystery. And the music is better for it.
Last Century; Δ (Sisyphus); Janet Jackson; Stop Short; Δ (Daedalus); The Opposite; Δ (Hercules); Verdun; Fight Club the Rabbit; Pareidolia; Δ (Bacchus).
Steve Raegele: electric guitar; Miles Perkin: acoustic bass; Thom Gossage: drums, kalimba.
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.