Adventurous, hair-raising, mind-bending, dense, fibrous, layered, hallucinogenic, twisted. These are the words that come to mind when listening to the excellent but challenging music on Chris Pitsiokos's album Silver Bullet in the Autumn of Your Years. Pitsiokos' compositions often sound like a musical transcription of the trippiest parts of William Burrough's "Naked Lunch." The result? An album that feels like it jumped from the mind of John Zorn, Cecil Taylor, and Robert Frippall at the same time!
One of the many amazing aspects of the album are its electronic effects. Pitsiokos deserves accolades for these almost as much as he deserves praise for the compositions and his remarkable saxophone playing. The album itself brings to mind Marc Edwards' Bowels of Jupiter or Brandon Seabrook's Convulsionaries, stunning efforts in music that defy categorization. Would it be too much of a stretch to label this music Beyond Jazz?
Pitsiokos, who composed all the numbers on the album, is joined by a highly-talented group of musicians, led by guitarist Sam Lisabeth. Electric bass contributions are split between Tim Dahl and Henry Fraser. The drumming is likewise split between Jason Nazary and Connor Baker. Each of these musicians add significant contributions to the intensity of the music.
There's a bit of deviant madness to some of the numbers. For example, take "Once Upon a Time Called Now" and its funky but abstract sci fi rockishness that transforms into a hoedown-like rhythm complete with cartoon sound effects before capsizing into a chorus at the end.
Although all of the compositions are provocative and edgy, the album boasts three definitive masterpieces. The first, "Positional Play," has an accelerated future sound. The second, "Silver Bullet in the Autumn of Your Years," features Pitsiokos' breathless work on sax and Lisabeth's runaway train, ear-bending guitar work. The third, "Anthropod" is the longest track on the album. It begins with musical utterances that might go through one's head if trapped in a space vacuum. Long drawn out eerie phrases are joined by guitar jack hammer effects. There is a slow build to horror as Pitsiokos offers up disturbing and gruesome musical imagerylike the after effect of some significant natural or man-made disaster. Nazary keeps the music fluid and energetic with his strong all-over drumming, matching Dahl's efforts on bass.
Is this, to borrow a phrase, the shape of jazz to come? Or perhaps this might be the shock of jazz to come. Like a drug-induced trip to Burrough's Interzone, the beyond jazz music of Silver Bullet in the Autumn of Your Years awaits.
Track Listing: Improvisation 8; Dalai Lama's Got that PMA; Once Upon a Time Called Now; Orelius; Improvisation 27; Positional Play; Silver Bullet in the Autumn of Your Years; The Tower; A Knob on the Face of a Man; Arthropod.
Personnel: Chris Pitsiokos: alto saxophone, wind controller, sampler, analog synthesizer, and other electronics; Sam Lisabeth: guitar; Tim Dahl: electric bass on tracks 4, 6, 9, 10; Henry Fraser: electric bass on tracks 1, 3, 5 ,7, 8; Jason Nazary: drums and electronics on tracks 4, 6, 9, 10; Connor Baker: drums on 1, 3, 5, 7, 8.
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