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Tyshawn Sorey: The Inner Spectrum of Variables [2 CDs] (Pi Recordings)

New York drummer Tyshawn Sorey's impressive work for double trio is an ambitious chamber jazz work using multiple harmonic, formal, rhythmic, and modal vocabularies in an exploratory and improvisational framework, inspired by the work of Lawrence D. Butch Morris. ... Click to View


Yoni Kretzmer (Steve Swell / Thomas Heberer / Max Johnson / Chad Taylor): FIVE (OutNow Recordings)

An excellent example of collective free improv from a quintet led by NY tenor saxophonist Yoni Kretzmer with collaborators Steve Swell (trombone), Thomas Heberer (cornet), Max Johnson (double bass) and Chad Taylor (drums), capturing the horn sound of the late 60's Blue Note era. ... Click to View


Frantz Loriot Systematic Distortion Orchestra: The Assembly (OutNow Recordings)

The 11 piece Systematic Distortion Orchestra is led by composer and viola player Frantz Loriot, with Brooklyn Downtown players Nathaniel Morgan (sax), Brad Henkel & Joe Moffet (trumpet), Ben Gerstein, Sam Kulik (trombone), Sean Ali & Pascal Niggenkemper (bass), and 3 drummers. ... Click to View


JC Jones / Yoni Kretzmer (w/ Barre Philips / Mark Dresser / Reuben Radding / Sean Conly / Damon Smith / Pascal Niggenkemper): Esoteric Duos [2 CDs] (OutNow Recordings)

A tremendous CD of duos, disc one presents Israeli bassist JC Jones in duos with Steve Horenstein, Barre Phillips, Mark Dresser, Damon Smith, Yoni Kretzmer, and Carmel Raz; Disc 2 presents NY saxophonist Yoni Kretzmer in duos with Pascal Niggenkemper, Reuben Radding, Sean Conly, and JC Jones. ... Click to View


Kretzmer / Ajemian / Shea: Until Your Throat is Dry (OutNow Recordings)

The trio of NY free improvisers Yoni Kretzmer on tenor sax and Kevin Shea on drums (Talibam, Mostly Other People Do the Killing) with bassist Jason Ajemian in an intense album of "immaterial tangibility, the raw flesh, dirty concreteness, thoughtlessness and stuff called music." ... Click to View


Ehran Elisha / Kindred Spirit: Kindred Spirts: Quintets [2 CDs] (OutNow Recordings)

Composer-Improviser-Percussionist Ehran Elisha presents two quintets interpreting two of his extended compositions: "Kindred Soul" and "Spirit Suite", with collaborators including Roy Campbell, Sam Bardfeld, Dave Phillips, Yoni Kretzmer, Michael Attias, Sean Conly, &c. ... Click to View


Malfatti / Drumm / Capece: The Volume Surrounding The Task (Potlatch)

A moody album of minimal improv, using space, innuendo, breath and a wonderful sense of darkness from the trio of Radu Malfatti (trombone), Kevin Drum (electronics) and Lucio Capece (bass clarinet & preparations), performing live at Q-O2 in Brussel, Belgium. ... Click to View


Tony Conrad W/ Faust: Outside The Dream Syndicate [VINYL] (Superior Viaduct)

Originally released in Europe in 1973, this reissue details the meeting of NY violinist, composer and filmmaker Tony Conrad, a peer of John Cale, La Monte Young, &c. with the legendary German rock band Faust, recording these two side-long and forward-looking works. ... Click to View


Tony Conrad W/ Faust: Outside The Dream Syndicate (Superior Viaduct)

Originally released in Europe in 1973, this reissue details the meeting of NY violinist, composer and filmmaker Tony Conrad, a peer of John Cale, La Monte Young, &c. with the legendary German rock band Faust, recording these two side-long and forward-looking works. ... Click to View


Mats Gustafsson And Friends: MG 50 - Peace & Fire [4 CD BOX SET] (Trost Records)

A box set documenting the October 2015 3-day event held at Porgy and Bess in Vienna for the 50th birthday of saxophonist Mats Gustafsson (The Thing, Fire! and innumerable duo/trio/ensemble formations) with a who's-who of collaborators invited to join in various formations. ... Click to View


Rempis / Abrams / Ra + Baker: Perihelion [2 CDs] (Aerophonic)

Following their 2013 release "Aphelion", the working trio of Dave Rempis on sax, Joshua Abrams on bass & clarinet, and Avreeayl Ra on drums release their 2nd collaboration in a 2-CD album of live and studio improvisations, adding Jim Baker on keys and electronics for the 2nd disc. ... Click to View


Gunwale: Rempis / Wildeman / Packard: Polynya (Aerophonic)

The debut album of this focused and intrepid Chicago trio led by saxophonist Dave Rempis with young stalwarts Ryan Packard on percussion and electronics, and Netherlands transplant Albert Wildeman, for three extended improvisations recorded live and in the studio. ... Click to View


The International Nothing: The Power Of Negative Thinking (Monotype)

The 4th album from The International Nothing, originally the clarinet duo of Kai Fagaschinski and Michael Thieke, now extended with Christian Weber on double bass and Eric Schaefer on percussion, adding new facets to their sonic spectrum of precise microtonal interaction. ... Click to View


Alfred Harth 23 / Wolfgang Seidel: Five Eyes (Moloko Records)

A fascinating psychedelic stew of improv and audio construction dovetailing tremendous playing with unexpected concrete and electronic interventions from the duo of Alfred 23 Harth on reeds, trombone, keys, and misc., and Wolfgang Seidel on drums, percussion and misc. ... Click to View


Matt Turner / Hal Rammel: As On A Pivot Of Air [10'' VINYL] (Penumbra)

A live recording by the long-running duo of Matt Turner on cello and Hal Rammel on amplified palettes at Acme Records & Music Emporium in Milwaukee in 2015 as part of the Audible Electricity series, presenting uniquely voiced and detailed improvisations. ... Click to View


PaPaJo (Hubweber / Lovens / Edwards): Spiela [2 CDs] (Creative Sources)

The long-running trio of Paul Hubweber on trombone, Paul Lovens on drums, and John Edwards on double bass in an album releasing a radio concert from Croatia in 2003, and another from Klangbrucke in 2009; highly attuned free improv with near-telepathic dialog from three masters. ... Click to View


Parak.eets (Ute Wassermann / Richard Scott / Emilio Gordoa): Natura Venomous (Creative Sources)

The trio of Richard Scott on modular synths, Emilio Gordoa on vibraphone & percussion, and Ute Wasserman on voice, in uniquely orchestrated free improvisations that focuses on sound interaction with detail and restraint, while still bringing a sense of wonder and exuberation. ... Click to View


Iridium String Quartet (Rocha / Rodrigues / Rodrigues / Mira): Iridium String Quartet (Creative Sources)

Unusual approaches to string improvisation from the quartet of Ernesto Rodrigues (viola), Guilherme Rodrigues (cello), Maria da Rocha (violin), and Miguel Mira (double bass), using extended techniques in subtle yet detailed discourse yielding unexpected qualities to their instruments. ... Click to View


Moondog AKA Louis T. Hardin: Round the World of Sound (New World Records)

The "Viking of 5th Ave" Moondog (Louis Thomas Hardin) was a blind musician noted for his unique garb, but also for his beautiful compositions that blended creative and rhythmic music with lyric and song, here in a collection of 25 songs from his "Madrigal Book 1". ... Click to View


Miimo: Miimo 3 (Amorfon)

The improvising steelpan ensemble of Yoshio Machida (steel drums, percussion, electronics, PanKAT), Tatsu (bass, electronics) and Norihide Saji (drums, laptop, electronics) in their 3rd release, an alternative dub album, or music created by poly-rhythm and sound effects. ... Click to View


Chaman Chomeur : Chaman Chomeur (BeCoq)

A direct translation of this band's name is "unemployed shaman", the trio of Leo Ratherius (guitar), Marc-Antonie Moercant (drums) and Thomas Cockerel (bass) use trance-like rhythms to build sonic progressions like cathartic rituals, alongside open-minded improvisations. ... Click to View


Mats Gustafsson : Piano Mating [VINYL] (Blue Tapes and X-Ray Records)

When Blue Tapes asked Gustafsson to compose an album using an instrument he'd never recorded with before he chose the Dubreq Pianomate, an electronic instrument from the 60s intended to be used with a piano; Gustafsson used it sans-piano, and the results are these 2 beautiful drones. ... Click to View


Keiji Haino / Jim O'Rourke / Oren Ambarchi: I Wonder If You Noticed... [VINYL 2 LPs] (Black Truffle)

The trio of Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke and Oren Ambarchi continues with this double LP of the band performing live at SuperDeluxe in Tokyo in 2014, for a journey in improvised rock and electronics with the shamanistic vocals of Haino guiding their unique and powerful playing. ... Click to View


Lucio Capece : Awareness About (Another Timbre)

Four recent pieces by Berlin-based instrumentalist, composer and improviser, Lucio Capece, all focusing on the process of listening, one performed by Konzert Minimal, the other solo performances including a work for hanging speakers and helium balloons. ... Click to View


Jurg Frey (performed by Cristian Alvear): Guitarist, Alone (Another Timbre)

A double CD featuring all of Wandelweiser composer Jurg Frey's music for solo acoustic guitar, beautifully interpreted by the Chilean guitarist Cristian Alvear, including a new piece written specially for Cristian Alvear; beautifully unfolding, concentrative music. ... Click to View


Angharad Davies / Rhodri Davies / Michael Duch / Lina Lapelyte / John Lely & John Tilbury: Goldsmiths (Another Timbre)

An extended group improvisation and compositions by Lely, Sarah Hughes, and Jurg Frey, subtle and beautiful performances by Angharad Davies (violin), Rhodri Davies (electric harp), Michael Duch (bass), Lina Lapelyte (violin), John Lely (objects & electronics) & John Tilbury (piano). ... Click to View


Marek Poliks : Hull Treader (Another Timbre)

Referencing sci-fi, C.S. Lewis, and alien worlds, the compositions of Marek Poliks each have a central metaphor like alien environment and warmth, spaceship and cradling, performed by ensembles using traditional and electronic instruments and objects. ... Click to View


Michael Bisio / Kirk Knuffke Duo: Row for William O. (Relative Pitch)

New York bassist Michael Bisio pays tribute to his teacher William O. Smith in this tremendous duo with cornetist Kirk Knuffke, in a beautiful mix of lyrical playing and heavy technical skills made to sound remarkably simply; a joyful and profound jazz album. ... Click to View


Ingrid Laubrock / Tom Rainey: Buoyancy (Relative Pitch)

Drawing on several years and many shared projects, the duo of Ingrid Laubrock (sax) and Tom Rainey (drums) recorded this excellent album of sophisticated improvisation at the end of a 17-date tour, performing for a studio audience at Audio for the Arts in Madison, Wisconsin. ... Click to View


Audio One (Vandermark/Adasiewicz/Berman/Bishop/Rempis/Williams/Mazzarrella/Daisy/Macri/Paulson): The Midwest School (Audiographic Records)

With a quartet of reeds (Nick Mazzarella, Dave Rempis, Ken Vandermark, Mars Williams), Jeb Bishop on trombone, Josh Berman on cornet, plus Jen Paulson on viola, Jason Adasiewicz on vibes, Nick Macri on bass and Tim Daisy on drums, this Chicago band burns with amazing free playing! ... Click to View


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  Painkiller 
  Execution Ground  
  (Subharmonic (1994)) 

   review by William Burke
  2003-08-20
Painkiller: Execution Ground (Subharmonic (1994))

Being a fan of Peter Brotzmann and other hard experimental jazz, I sought out Execution Ground with some anticipation. The idea of John Zorn doing a jazz-thrash hybrid band more than caught my attention. I was however somewhat skeptical and made it a point to get a hold of some Painkiller to see just what in the world was going on. I put in the CD, got a cup of coffee, and sat back with a sort of 'oh yea, show me' disposition. About half way through the first track I realized that I had spilled the coffee and hadn't even noticed. This was music that demanded to be listened to and after that initial playing it pushed several of my other CDs to the back of the shelf.

As I listened, I understood very quickly that this was a very focused effort. In many ways it was a logical step for Zorn between Naked City and Masada. Gone are the tricky jazz hooks that sometimes populated early Naked City albums, gone are the calculated chance of other projects, gone is the miscellaneous noise that sometimes seeps in. What is left is a pure blowing album with three highly skilled and focused players. Not only can they flat out play, but they also listen to one another in a way that is rarely accomplished in any kind of music. No filler, no empty calories, just pure clear focused sound.

Zorn, on sax and vocals, is joined by Bill Laswell on bass and former Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris. They began their collaboration in 1991 when Zorn was listening to metal/grindcore groups such as Napalm Death. He discovered an intensity and creativity in this music that rivaled the 1960's free jazz players. From this admiration grew Painkiller, which successfully merges grindcore intensity with hard jazz sensibilities. The music is at once challenging, listenable and fairly unique. The only band that comes near it may be Last Exit, however the Painkiller sound is thankfully more sparse and the playing has a more carefully constructed lens.

Execution Ground is arranged in a series of strategic attacks on two discs. On disc one Zorn is in full-out, back-to-the-wall, straight-on thrash. He dips in and out of the weave of sound created by Laswell and Harris with graceful precision. There are no false steps, no misplaced notes. The drummer, Mick Harris does not overplay, often a danger in experimental music, but keeps things moving with well placed breaks, rolls, and melodic tom tom work. The glue, however, is Laswell, who thunders along with great timing and atmosphere. He moves through a wide range from ferocious rock licks, interesting hard bop, and even a little dub thrown in for good measure.

Disc two, which is labeled "Ambient," has more atmospheric playing, with a dark feel not unlike moments in Naked City'sTorture Garden but with a more ambient space: it's background music for the early morning darkness. It has the same unique merging of grindcore and hard bop, but in a more spacious and drawn out setting. Zorn holds long notes, then zigs and zags eerily through a series of ghostly patterns skillfully drawn by Laswell and Harris. It still grabs you and thrashes around, but in a more restrained way than disc one.

The moods achieved and the range of influences on this album are staggering. Even though at times the music is aggressive, anxious and intense, Painkiller manages to merge seemingly divergent directions in the music into a completely satisfying and engaging experience. The music cascades effortlessly through a series of different dynamics but always with an energizing point of convergence. While Zorn and Laswell have individually played in many different styles over the years, Execution Ground may be their most focused and complete vision to date.





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