You say you're beat? You don't know Jack

Mark Corroto By

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..."the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars..." Jack Kerouac, On the Road (Viking Press, 1957)

Bill Laswell

Method Of Deliverance



The very essence of music, and music as communication, has to be folk—the people's music. The original roots music, folk can be defined as sound without pretensions and artificiality. Such is the acoustic bass recording by Bill Laswell. These nine solo pieces, plus one duet with singer/producer Ejigayehu "Gigi" Shibabaw (Laswell's wife), bridge the folk musics of Laswell's birthplace in Kentucky with his wife's continent of Africa. Known for his various collaborations with an almost endless list of musicians that include the likes of Herbie Hancock, John Zorn, Zakir Hussain, and Raoul Bjorkenheim and explorations into the genres of dub, ambient, avant-dance, hip-hop, punk, and his more recent African music, Laswell distills varying sounds into revealing their fundamental essence.

Laswell plays a 4-stringed Warwick Alien fretless acoustic bass throughout. It gives his sound a warmth and makes each piece attractive. He draws attention to the simple nature of each piece with repetitive lines and minimal use of overdubs and drones. He can set off a buzzing tone that acts as a set table for his lyrical meal on "A Dangerous Road" or overdub a western (almost Ennio Morricone) theme with "Ouroboros." Laswell draws a bluesy feel throughout. He connects American folk and blues with African music on "Epiphaneia," and "Bagana/Sub Figura X" where Gigi chants from an ethereal mountain top.

Christian Marclay, Toshio Kajiwara, DJ Olive: djTRIO

21 September 2002

Cuneiform Records


After apprenticing as a turntable artist in the 1980s with the likes of John Zorn, Butch Morris, and Elliott Sharp, Christian Marclay assembled, in 1996, a rotating trio of DJs to extend the concept of turntablism beyond the simple dance-party maestro and hip-hop mixer. His contribution allowed DJs to become soloists in their own right. This new concept, djTRIO, extended turntablism beyond beats into the realm of experimental sound generators.

Marclay's trio(s) performed live with a rotating cast of Toshio Kajiwara, DJ Olive, Marina Rosenfield, and Erik M as documented on the release djTrio (Asphodel, 2004). This LP only (plus download) documents one night's performance at the Hirshhorn Gallery in Washington DC with DJ Olive and Toshio Kajiwara. While beats were not foreign to djTRIO, they are not necessary to the collage the improvising musicians create here. The layers built bits and pieces of found sound, excerpts from records, and sound generated from the physical placing of a needle upon vinyl. The scratch is incorporated as is the skipping tonearm. Robert De Niro is sampled from Taxi Driver as is Ella Fitzgerald. Just as trumpeter Axel Dorner might make sounds the unprepared listener may never associate with a trumpet, these DJs create soundscapes and dreams that travel beyond the turntable.

Godspeed You! Black Emperor

"Allelujah! Don't Bend Ascend!

Constellation Records


Welcome to the cult of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Actually, that might be a bit too strong a moniker. Like Sun Ra's Arkestra or Burnt Sugar, the band, a Canadian post-rock ensemble, maintains a solid following for its multi-media performances. With the release of "Allelujah! Don't Bend Ascend!, they break a 10 year span of no recordings since Yanqui U.X.O. (Constellation).

Released as both a CD or a gorgeous LP (with a bonus 7"), the album comprises two lengthy tracks "Mladic" and "We Drift Like Worried Fire." At 20 minutes per track, the band can stretch out with its signature guitar fed crescendos. The music laced with guitar feedback, samples, strings, and ever heightened energy feeds a frenzied album-rock sensation. "Mladic" has a distinct Eastern tinge and "We Drift Like Worried Fire" a ghostly ballad theme. Both pieces pile sound-upon-sound, with climax as only partial relief. They include 2 shorter pieces, "Their Helicopters' Sing" and "Strung Like Lights At Thee Printemps Erable" as six-and-a-half minute drone sequences. A sort of respite between their merciless attacks of post-rock opera.

Mats Gustafsson


Utech Records


Recorded in 2010, this tribute to Swedish saxophonist Bengt Nordström by the current saxophone champion Mats Gustafsson is a radical departure from his sound. Or, is it? Gustafsson, who plays that machine gun blasting baritone in the rocked-out jazz band The Thing, the muscle behind the punk band The Ex, or the improvising spark in so many other ensembles with players such as Peter Brötzmann, Ken Vandermark and Barry Guy, recorded these two lengthy improvisations utilizing a Grafton plastic alto saxophone. The type favored by Bengt, his mentor.

Certainly the plastic saxophone presented limitation (and possibilities) to Gustafsson. He opens "Side A—Bengt A" of this white vinyl LP (with accompanying CD) prodding and testing the horn. He blows shortish notes, casually extending his sound with vocalizations, his flutter tongue, and key manipulations. Gustafsson eschews his signature strongman sound for a breathy improvisation. By the second track, he settles into a minimalist pop-and-tongue approach that unrolls into soft melodies and multi-phonic overblowing. The frailty of the plastic horn favored by Bengt, but also used for a while by both Charlie Parker and Ornette Coleman, is exploited to some very ingenious ends here.

Frank Rosaly

Centering And Displacement

Utech Records



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