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Ethnic Heritage Ensemble: Black Is Back - 40th Anniversary Project (KATALYST )

Percussionist Kahil El' Zabar's Ethnic Heritage Ensemble with Ernest Khabeer Dawkins on saxophone Dawkins and Corey Wilkes on trumpet, referencing the history of jazz in contemporary settings, with superb rhythmic textures and excellent soloing. ... Click to View


Adasiewicz's, Jason Sun Rooms: From The Region (Delmark)

Jason Adasiewicz's Sun Rooms explores the sparse territory of the vibraphone trio with fellow Chicago player Mike Reed on drums and Texan via Norway bassist Ingrebrigt Haker-Flaten replacing Nate McBrite; tasteful and lyrical jazz with a modern edge. ... Click to View


Abrams, Joshua: Natural Information (Eremite)

Joshua Abrams (Town & Country, Matana Roberts & Chad Taylor, &c) in an infectious groove-based album built around the guimbri, a 3-stringed animal hide bass used by the Gnawa of North Africa, with a bonus 20 minutes of material not included in the LP. ... Click to View


NG4 Quartet (Keith Rowe / Anthony Taillard / Emmanuel Leduc / Julien Ottavi): A Quartet For Guitars (Mikroton Recordings)

Keith Rowe, Anthony Taillard, Emmanuel Leduc and Julien Ottavi perform on electric guitars and electronics, following a score of 9 sections worked out between them for over a year before recording these six improvisations. ... Click to View


Rowe, Keith / Alfredo Costa Monteiro / Ilia Belorukov / Kurt Liedwart: Contour (Mikroton Recordings)

Two recordings from spina!studio in St. Petersburg during the Teni Zvuka 2013 Festival, one a duo btween Keith Rowe and Alfredo Costa Monteiro, and the other filling out to a quartet with Ilia Belorukov and Kurt Liedwart; detailed interactions with impressive restraint. ... Click to View


Uchihashi, Kazuhisa / Noid / Tamara Wilhelm: I Hope It Doesn't Work (Mikroton Recordings)

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Fennesz: Venice [VINYL 2 LPs] (Touch)

Special 10th anniversary edition of Fennesz' classic "Venice" album from 2004 recorded with David Sylvian on vocals and Burkhard Stangl on guitar, presented in a gatefold double LP release. ... Click to View


Castello, Angelica / Billy Roisz / Burkhard Stangl / Dieb13: Scuba (Mikroton Recordings)

A large improvised work from the quartet of Angelica Castello (amplified subcontrabass, paetzold recorder and electronic devices, Billy Roisz (electronics), Burkhard Stangl (electric guitar) and Dieb13 (turntables & klopfer) performing live at Alte Schmiede Wien, Austria in 2013. ... Click to View


Triac (Tatone / Seracini / Polidoro): In A Room (Laminal)

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Shea, David: Rituals (Room40)

Electroacoustic composer and a former Downtown NY artist David Shea returns with a massive work of semiotic acoustic renderings based around ritual music, performed with Lawrence English and Robin Rimbaud, Oren Ambarchi, &c., a profound and massive work. ... Click to View


Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Oliv & Familie (1968-9) (Emanem)

Reissuing the 3rd release from drummer John Steven's Spontaneous Music Ensemble with 31 minutes of previously unissued material, with participants including Derek Bailey, Kenny Wheller, Evan Parker, Dave Holland, Maggie Nichols, Trevor Watts, Johnny Dyani, &c &c. ... Click to View


Rutherford, Paul Trio: Gheim - live at Bracknell 1983 (Emanem)

A short-lived improvising trio led by Paul Rutherford (trombonist) with Paul Rogers (double bass) and Nigel Morris (drums) performing live in 1983, originally issued on cassette on the Ogun label, here with more than 24 minutes of additional studio material. ... Click to View


Lacy, Steve: Cycles (1976-80) [2 CDs] (Emanem)

Solo saxophone performances of three of Steve Lacy's cycles--"Shots", "Sands", and "Hedges"--recorded in concert and in the studio in the late 70's and 1980, with the majority of the material previously unreleased; thoughtful, technical, lyrical, astounding music from a true master! ... Click to View


Halvorson, Mary: Reverse Blue (Relative Pitch)

Guitarist Mary Halvorson's project with Chris Speed on sax & clarinet, Eivind Opsvik on bass, and Tomas Fuijwara on drums, a band formed for a one-off concert at the Blue Note in NYC, that continued on based on the strength of the bond between them, as heard on this superb release. ... Click to View


Grimal, Alexandra / Giovanni Di Domenico: Chergui [2 CDs] (Ayler)

Saxophonist Alexandra Grimal recorded this double CD with pianist Giovanni Di Domenico a the Theatre Du Chatelet, in Paris, France, for adventurous dialog in a dynamic set of original Di Domenico compositions plus freely improvised work, both duo and solo. ... Click to View


Lacy, Steve: School Days (1960/3) (Emanem)

Presenting a 1963 gig by the quartet of Steve Lacy (saxophone), Roswell Rudd (trombone), Dennis Charles (drums) and Henry Grimes (bass), playing piano-less interpretations of the music of Thelonious Monk; plus Lacy with the Monk Quintet live in Philadelphia, 1960. ... Click to View


Moholo, Louis / Frode Gjerstad: Sult (FMR)

Norwegian reedist Frode Gjerstad in three extended duos with legendary South African drummer Louis Moholo for sensitive, creative and engaging freely improvised music from two masters, performed live in concert at Gallery Sult in Stavanger, 2013. ... Click to View


Shetland Improvisers Orchestra: First Steps (FMR)

The 1st release from this collective directed by Raymond MacDonald on sax and George Burt on drums (GIO), presenting work from workshop sessions and a complete set from the 2012 Glasgow Improvisers Festival, 6 unique and sometimes eccentric work, including a piece for Lol Coxhill. ... Click to View


Bianco, Tony: Utoma Quartet (FMR)

Borrowing from Elvin Jones' concepts, drummer Bianco's band uses 2 saxophones (Mike Fletcher and Mark Hanslip), bass (Colin Somervell) and drums, for energetic and ecstatic jazz compositions creating a continual pulse with long lines and looped synchronicity. ... Click to View


Acid Mothers Temple SWR: Yes, No & Perhaps (Magaibutsu)

Acid Mother Temple SWR merge's AMT's Kawabata Kakoto (guitar, voice,) and Tsuyama Atsushi (bass, vocals, sax) with Yoshida Tatsuya (Ruins, Koenji Hyakkei, &c), here in their 6th release, crazy prog-oriented rock of indescribable insanity and skill! ... Click to View


Zorn, John: Valentine's Day (Tzadik)

John Zorn brings together Downtown New Yorkers, Marc Ribot on guitar, Trevor Dunn on bass and Tyshawn Sorey on drums, for 12 instrumental miniatures combining atonal lyricism with rock intensity; scronky, demanding and exciting hybrids of improv and rock. ... Click to View


Rodiriguez, Roberto / Zorn, John: Aguares: The Book Of Angels Volume 23 (Tzadik)

Drummer Roberto Rodriguez interprets John Zorn's "Book of Angels" in this 23rd volume from the series, recording in Israel with a wonderfully compelling ensemble emphasizing both rhythmic and melodic elements in nine exciting compositions. ... Click to View


Smith, David / Bill Laswell / John Zorn: The Dream Membrane (Tzadik)

Bill Laswell on bass and drones and John Zorn on shofar and alto saxophone perform darkly evocative ambient music to readings by magus David Chaim Smith from selections of his mystical text "The Awakening Ground". ... Click to View


Sealed Knot, The: Surface/Plane (Confront)

Listed as one of The Wire's Top 10 Improvised Music Records in 2003, this reissue of The Sealed Knots Meniscus release presents two live 2001 concerts in the UK from the subtlely sophisticated trio of UK & Berlin artists Mark Wastell, Burkhard Beins, and Rhodri Davies. ... Click to View


Wastell, Mark: Caressed On The Brow By Unseen Hands (Confront)

This long overdue re-issue celebrates the unique encounter of eleven like-minded musicians from Japan, England, Wales, Germany, Basque Country & Norway, brought together in the studio for one day only for this daytime recording session followed by an evening concert. ... Click to View


Leandre, Joelle / Michael Duch: (Live at) Gramolna (Confront)

Two double bass players--Joelle Leandre and Michael Duch--performed as a duo live in at nyMusikk in Oslo, then recorded this album of freely improvised bass interactions the next day in the studio at Gramolna in Trondheim; dark and commanding explorations of deep strings. ... Click to View


Moholo-Moholo, Louis Unit: For the Blue Notes (Ogun)

Ogun marks their 40th anniversary by releasing this superb album from drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo's Unit as an octet including Alexander Hawkins on piano, John Edwards on bass, and Jason Yarde on saxes, performing a heartfelt tribute to The Blue Notes live in Italy. ... Click to View


Perelman, Ivo / Mat Maneri: Two Men Walking (Leo)

The second collaboration between saxophonist Ivo Pereleman and violist Mat Maneri, pairing two single-melody instruments in a melding of sound, technique and personalities that captivates in exceptional unison and counterpoint playing. ... Click to View


Perelman, Ivo / Matthew Shipp / William Parker: Book Of Sound (Leo)

A single extended work in 6 parts from the trio of Ivo Perelman (sax), Matthew Shipp (piano) and William Parker (bass), emotional and masterful music from a trio that has developed their sound over years working together; superb! ... Click to View


Smith, Wadada Leo: The Great Lakes Suites [2 CDs] (Tum)

Outstanding compositions and performances on a 2 disc set from trumpeter Leo Smith, each piece dedicated to one of the US Great Lakes, with multi-wind player Henry Threadgill, bassist John Lindberg, and drummer Jack DeJohnette, a milestone in a superlative career! ... 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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