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Ches Smith: Laugh Ash

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Ches Smith: Laugh Ash
Ches Smith's Laugh Ash is not your garden-variety jazz concoction. Instead, it is a genre-defying, shape-twisting auditory escapade that does not just push the envelope—it sends it soaring into the stratosphere. It is both bewildering and bedazzling. These compositions stand as a towering testament to Smith's impressive acumen as a drummer, percussionist, and composer, a veritable Houdini of the music world who escapes the shackles of convention to chart a mesmerizing course through uncharted musical terrains.

Right from the get-go, Smith makes it crystal clear that playing it safe is about as appealing to him as a silent drum kit. With the finesse of a master chef, he whisks together complex chamber music concoctions, little big band charts, pulsating drum grooves, and sizzling electronics into a gourmet dish where tranquility and turmoil spoon in perfect sync. Smith unleashes a playground of contrasts, where swirling orchestral waves crash against the gritty shores of electronic innovation, creating moments of introspective allure amid the cacophony.

If your musical palate yearns for the bland comfort of the predictable, you may want to dine elsewhere. But for those hungering for an auditory feast that tantalizes, astonishes, and leaves an indelible mark on the soul, Laugh Ash is your ticket to am unforgettable banquet. It is a sonic odyssey that lingers like the echo of a dream long after the last note has dissolved into silence.

Smith, in peak form, orchestrates this progressive and eclectic extravaganza with the deftness of a maestro. His adventurous spirit and refined taste in composition shine through in every track, crafting a tapestry of sound that is as intriguing as it is challenging to the uninitiated. The album parades a 10-piece ensemble of musical heavyweights, including the likes of Shara Lunon (voice), Anna Webber (flute), James Brandon Lewis (tenor saxophone), and Nate Wooley (trumpet), among other stalwarts.

On "Minimalism," the music glimmers like a jazz-infused soap bubble, shimmering with layers of pulsating electronics and multifaceted rhythms, while Shara Lunon's punk-rock vocals add a layer of avant-garde sheen. "Sweatered Webs (Hey Mom)" sees the ensemble flexing its chamber muscles, creating a funky, woven tapestry of sound that the vocalist punctuates with a mix of harmony and soft-spoken rap, as Lewis and Wooley inject turbulent improvisation into the mix.

Smith's penchant for the unpredictable is unmistakably highlighted in "Unyielding Daydream Welding," where Oscar Noriega's clarinet and Wooley's trumpet dance a delicate ballet around dark drones and lively beats, blending neo-classical elegance with hip, modern jazz vibes, all spiced with Smith's electronic sorcery.

This album is a clarion call to those who dare to experience the vanguard of jazz and experimental music. With its audacious soundscape, masterful execution, and unyielding creativity, it stands out as a beacon in the dense fog of the music scene. A must-listen, indeed, for the adventurous at heart.

Track Listing

Minimalism; Remote Convivial; Sweatered Webs (Hey Mom); Shaken, Stirred Silence; The Most Fucked; Winter Sprung; Disco Inferred; Unyielding Daydream Welding; Exit Shivers.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Anna Webber: flute; Ches Smith: electronics, programming, vibes, tubular bells, glockenspiel, timpani, tam tam, metal percussion; Shahzad Ismaily: keyboards.

Album information

Title: Laugh Ash | Year Released: 2024 | Record Label: Pyroclastic Records


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