Besides being a musician, cornetist Rob Mazurek is also a visual artitst. The member of Tigersmilk, Isotope 217, and the Chicago Underground Duo, Trio, Quartet, and Orchestra also paints and constructs multimedia installations.
Mandarin Movie draws as much from the musical aspects of his personality as the painterly ones. His band Mandarin Movie, whose name comes from a dream of rooftop flying saucers, creates layer upon layer of sound. Some of it is music, some is noise. But of course one man's music is another's... well, you get the picture.
Like his recent solo work, Mazurek moves away from standard time structures and into openness. Together with Alan Licht (Lee Ranaldo, William Hooker, and Christian Emarcy), Matt Lux (Isotope 217), Jason Ajemian (Dragon 1976, Triage), Frank Rosaly (Chicago Luzern Exchange), and trombone genius Steve Swell, Mazurek constructs dense collages of sound.
Mandarin Movie is a 21st century version of Bitches Brew, except Teo Macero has been replaced by half the band members sporting electronic manipulation of their own choosing. Add to that guest artist Mikael Jorgensen's computer and the density increases exponentially.
The disc opens with "Orange, a track (like "Peking Duck With Steam Dumpling ) which calls to mind the short-lived Power Tools band with Bill Frisell, Ronald Shannon Jackson, and Melvin Gibbs. The difference is seven musicians, covering the funk-thunder-meets-noise. Simple ideas and drum a programmed meditation evolve into over-amped explosion on the next track, "The Green Giraffe. You want pretty? Go somewhere else.
The Black Goat parts one and two bring more of that noise, and also the funk. Mazurek constructs walls, towers, and moats of sound. You can walk away from this recording and avoid the intensity of their task, but you cannot deny its power.
This is a jam band without the traditional jamming aspect. Dig and be afraid, but dig nonetheless.
Orange; The Green Giraffe; Black Goat (part one); Black Goat (part two); The Ghost Ship Is Sinking;
Peking Duck With Steam Dumpling; A Very Modern Camera (part one); A Very Modern Camera (part
two); Ghost Ships Don
Alan Licht - Guitar; Matthew Lux - Bass Guitar, Electronics; Steve Swell - Trombone; Jason Ajemian
- Double Bass, Electronics; Frank Rosaly - Drums; Rob Mazurek - Computer, Electric Eels; Moog;
Pianette, Cornet; John Herndon - Drums, Programming (track 2); Rick Rizzo - Guitar (track 2);
Mikael Jorgensen - Computer (track 1); Jim Becker - Fiddle, Banjo - (track 5).
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