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Sprawl: Sprawl [VINYL] (Trost Records)

Intense and beautifully harsh improvisation from drummer Michael Wertmuller (16-17, Alboth!, Full Blast) with Peter Brotzmann (reeds), Stephan Wittwer (guitar), Alex Buess (reeds & electronics), and William Parker (bass), originally released on CD in 1997. ... Click to View


Russell / Beresford / Edwards / Liavik Solberg: Will It Float? [VINYL] (VA FONGOOL)

Norwegian drummer Stale Liavik Solberg leads this quartet with prominent British improvisers, guitarist John Russell, bassist John Edwards, and Steve Beresford on electronics and objects, the latter adding an unusual edge to superb interactive playing. ... Click to View


Gallio / Rupp: Fasane Hula Punk (Rapid Moment)

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Yannis Kyriakides + Andy Moor: A Life Is A Billion Heartbeats (Unsounds)

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Charlemagne Palestine & Grumbling Fur Time Machine Orchestra: ggrrreeebbbaaammmnnnuuuccckkkaaallloooww!!! [VINYL] (Important Records)

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SAKA: Posh?! (FMR)

The free improvising tree of bassist Jon Rune Strom (Frode Gjerstad Trio, Paal Nilssen-Love, &c), tenor saxophonist Kristoffer Berre Alberts and percussionist Dag Erik Knedal Andersen, fiery free jazz with great technical skills and an oddly playful side. ... Click to View


Ian Watson / Susie Hodder-Williams : The Tao Of Homeopathy (FMR)

A meditative double CD with subtle flavours of flute and gamelan accompanying a reading by Ian Watson, the author of the Tao of Homeopathy exploring the philosophies and practices of homeopathy and Taoism."-Susie Hodder-Williams ... Click to View


Marcin Masecki : Variations (Bolt)

Composer & pianist Marcin Masecki wrote this work, inspired by Frederic Rzewski and presenting variations on the Chilean song "El pueblo unido jamas sera vencido" (The town united will never be defeated) and invited pianist Piotr Nowicki to perform it for this recording. ... Click to View


Gintas K: Blind Man Tales (Bolt)

Gintas K, in a moment of frustration, took more than 40 elements from some recent work he was preparing and put them into multichannel software which, with a few corrections, became this surprising and complex work of organized and detailed sound. ... Click to View


Candelaria Valiente Saenz / Marcin Masecki: Hymnen (Bolt)

Based on the anthems of nations that have endured recent struggles, from the duo of Marcin Masecki on keys and Candelaria Saenz Valiente on vocals and percussion, embraceable songs with unusual structures paying tribute to the beautiful themes for each nation. ... Click to View


Arturas Bumsteinas : Different Trains (Bolt)

A collection of experimental, electroacoustic, and comprovized works of composer, sound artist, performer, and improviser Arturas Bumsteinas, inspired by Central European cultural landscape, including a radio play Wielka improwizacja commisioned by Bolt Records. ... Click to View


Joanna Sokolowska Halszka: Msza (Bolt)

A chamber opera by Joanna Halszka Sokolowska at Opera// REMIX at Komuna// Warszawa, using sung and spoken voice, piano, and a variety of tonal instruments to present an intriguing set of variations informed by numerological methods, scientific statistics, &c.. ... Click to View


Alexander Schlippenbach Von Trio: Pakistani Pomade [VINYL] (Cien Fuegos)

One of saxophonists Evan Parker's favorite recordings from the long-running trio led by pianist Alexander von Schlippenbach with drummer Paul Lytton, the powerhouse free improvised "Pakistani Pomade" alubm is reissued on 180 gram vinyl with its original cover. ... Click to View


John Butcher / Andy Moor: Experiments With A Leaf (Unsounds)

Since working together in Thermal, saxophonist John Butcher and The Ex guitarist Andy Moor have collaborated in live performance, here recording in a cathedral in Berne, Switzerland in 2013, using its natural reverb to augment their impeccably paced and inspired dialog. ... Click to View


L'Ensemble Volta: Les Nuages de Magellan (Recommended Records)

ReR's 3rd collection featuring the ondes Martenot, an early electronic musical instrument invented in 1928 by cellist Maurice Martenot; this volume, performed by the 4 piece L'Ensemble Volta + Antoine Alerinie is dedicated to Spectralist composer Tristan Murail. ... Click to View


John Greaves / Peter Blegvad / Lisa Herman : Kew Rhone (Recommended Records)

Taking Rock In Opposition into difficult territory, Peter Blegvad and John Greave's song cycle is a perplexing and rewarding album blending literature with rock and jazz forms, performed in an ensemble including Carla Bley and Michael Mantler; an intricate masterwork. ... Click to View


Stepmother (Simonis / Visser / Gilonis / Kerman): Calvary Greetings (Megaphone / Knock 'Em Dead)

Bringing together members from RIO-oriented bands like Vril, AA Kismet, The Work, Hat Shoes, Hail, 5uus, Present, & Thinking Plague, Stepmother presents a strange conglomerate of styles in short songs with twisted elements, strange intent, and superb playing. ... Click to View


Motorpsycho: Demon Box [VINYL 2 LPs] (Rune Grammofon)

Still the favorite of many Motorpsycho fans, the iconic "Demon Box" was also this Norwegian rock band's breakthrough album from the early 90s, hard-edged prog oriented rock (think Sleepytime Gorilla Museum), presented in its original 2 LP format on 180 gm vinyl. ... Click to View


Beatriz Ferreyra : GRM Works [VINYL] (Recollection GRM)

Electronic composer Beatriz Ferreyra was a pioneer alongside Pierre Schaeffer, developing the famous Music Theory of the Sounding Object in the 50s, and continued to compose with Bernard Baschet and his Structures Sonores, holding residencies at Dartmouth College. ... Click to View


Michel Redolfi: Pacific Tubular Waves/Immersion [VINYL] (Recollection GRM)

Electroacoustic landscape composer Michel Redolfi in a work for Synclavier digital synthesizer recorded between 1979 & 1980, attempting to musically translate his research on underwater sound in the Pacific, from the movement of rolling waves to its depths. ... Click to View


The Necks: The Necks Box [8 CD BOX SET] (Recommended Records)

Formed in Australia the late 1980s by Chris Abrahams, Tony Buck and Lloyd Swanton, the Necks play post-jazz, post-rock, post-everything, slowly morphing improvised music, here in a limited numbered box set presenting 8 of their CDs from the UK Recommended Records label. ... Click to View


Reinhold Friedl : Golden Quinces, Earthed For Spatialised Neo-Bechstein (Bocian)

Reinhold Friedl performs on one of the last remaining of 150 Neo-Bechstein amplified Grand Pianos, using unusual recording techniques to find unexpected sonic aspects to the instrument, producing a dark ambient and industrial work of great intensity. ... Click to View


Alva Noto: Xerrox Vol. 3 (Raster-Noton)

Alva Noto continues his Xerrox series with the 3rd volume,"Towards Space", using the process of copying and manipulation of data as a basis for sound compositions, here showing a warmer music inspired by film memories, creating an imaginary soundtrack. ... Click to View


Eric La Casa: W2 (1998-2008) [2 CDs] (Herbal International)

A journey in sound from composer Eric La Casa, who organized these recordings of water and wind captured over 12 years as a sonic journal of the various geographic locations he visited, transforming them into an absorbing story about the living world. ... Click to View


John Zorn: The Song Project Live At LPR (Tzadik)

In celebration of his 60th birthday Zorn asked his most acclaimed vocal collaborators to write lyrics to select compositions from his vast musical catalog, first released as a 7" box set, and now here in red velvet covered CD package from a live performance in NYC, 2015. ... Click to View


Steve Coleman & the Council of Balance: Synovial Joints (Pi Recordings)

Composer and alto saxophonist Steve Coleman in a superb modern jazz album, written by applying characteristics of human synovial joints to compositional process, and using "camouflage orchestration" to orchestrate players into the fore-, middle- and background. ... Click to View


Graham Lambkin / Michael Pisaro: Schwarze Riesenfalter (erstwhile)

Balancing active organized sound worlds from Graham Lambkin with Wandelweiser discretion from Michael Pisaro in five tracks that punctuate concrete sound compositions with Feldman-esque piano progressions, bound together by a short poem; captivating and elusive. ... Click to View


Jeph Jerman / Tim Barnes: Matterings (erstwhile)

The pairing of eccentric sound artist Jeph Jerman with Quakebasket label leader/percussionist Tim Barnes, using unidentifiable sound sources, field recordings, and the occasional acoustic instrument to create unique, curious and absorbing environments. ... Click to View


Eric La Casa / Taku Unami: Parazoan Mapping (erstwhile)

Using "recordings" and "devices", this is the first release from the long-standing collaboration of Eric La Casa and Taku Umani, 15 untitled tracks of curious and subtly discursive sound work recorded in a diverse set of locations. ... Click to View


Ingar Zach / Miguel Angel Tolosa: Loner (Sofa)

Using electronics, field recordings, and acoustic percussion, the duo of Ingar Zach and Miguel Angel Tolosa (Ubeboet) create murky soundscapes punctuated and driven by percussion and ringing tones, rich ea-improv using tone and drones to envelope the listener. ... 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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