The first thing to make clear here is that this recording is not for a general jazz audience. Those readers who get more than their fair share of white noise when the TV can't get a signal are not going to find a great deal to please their ears within the three quarters of an hour of "music" making up this CD. I put "music" in quotes not to question the quality of what is on offer here, but rather to make the point that the majority of this recording is made up of "sound" rather than the more conventional constructive elements of music such as melody, harmony or rhythm.
This on its own is no bad thing. Other artists have recorded under similar constraints and created sonic landscapes of surprising and refreshing beauty, such as the stunning Some Other Season by Philipp Wachsmann and Paul Lytton (ECM). The work of the three Chicago-based musicians on this recording is for the most part more aggressive, though, and many listeners will find it inaccessible. It could nonetheless prove a treasure-trove for many way-out free-jazz aficionados.
The role of each of the three players can be best distinguished on the third of the four improvisations, "Onslaught" (a very suitable name). Drumm is responsible for the majority of the "noise," whilst Parker weaves distorted lines in and out over this and Zerang scurries around his range of percussive instruments. The three improvisers are at their most inventive at this point and the range of textures is slightly more varied and interesting than elsewhere on the album.
It is interesting that the least accessible track is placed first on the CD. "Lacerate" begins with a good three and a half minutes of varying degrees of fuzzy white noise before morphing into more metallic tones sounding like a knife scratching against and cheese-grater and a rusty gate swinging.
The closing "Miss Big Meen" is less distortedly noisy than the previous tracks and moves closer to jazz territory. Zerang works more definably as a "drummer" and Parker actually plays some chords!
Overall not one for the faint-hearted, but there is likely to be a good deal of interest here for followers of any of the three musicians.
1. Lacerate, 2. Electro, 3. Onslaught, 4. Miss Big Meen
Jeff Parker - Guitar, Korg MS-20; Kevin Drumm - Guitar, Effects, Synthesiser; Michael Zerang - Drums, Percussion, Autoharp
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