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Matta Gawa is guitarist Edward Ricart and drummer Sam Lohman, Washington, DC based rock improvisers creating music they describe as "cinematic chunks of post-hardcore improvised sound".

Gawa, Matta

Gawa, Matta: bA (Engine)
Label: Engine    
Released in: USA    

"Washington, D.C.'s Matta Gawa's self-described "cinematic chunks of post-hardcore improvised sound" is, however else you might describe it, standing apart from the main body of whack jazz. Sounds created from more than forty guitar pedals generating loops, sample, octave altering, various synthesized noise effects created and layered all at once and rounded out by some mad drumming create a dark, dense sonic explosion that confronts your ears. Yes, that's what I'm talking about: good, wholesome fresh strange and freaky sounds. All of this unhinged stuff can be found on Matta Gawa's maiden release, bA, out last week courtesy of Engine Studios.

Matta Gawa makes big noise, but it's coming from only a couple of guys: Edward Ricart on guitar and Sam Lohman on drums.

Perhaps never before has such a primitive sound been produced by so much technology and so few people. The seven songs were composed and recorded on the spot. There's a very thin line between spontaneously creating art and just noodling around. For this record, I'm gonna go with the former, because underneath that pile of guitar-generated noise there's some actual jazz being performed. No, it's not what Stanley Crouch calls jazz, but Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane and Peter Brötzmann most likely would. As if to emphasize the spiritual aspect of jazz championed by many of the avant garde greats, the album's name is derived from an ancient Egyptian word for spirit, and to bring that point home further, every song uses the word "bA" in the title ("Your bA Will Not Abandon Your Corpse," "Is A bA Among You," "Your bA Is Within You," etc.).

Ricart does more than just spin off effects from his vast array of pedals; he actually plays his guitar, too. Pulling together styles as diverse as Hendrix, Sonny Sharrock and even Muddy Waters, the composite style makes Ricart very much his own man. Lohman's "caveman" drumming often reminds me of Engine Studios stablemate Warren Smith, probably because Lohman absorbs whatever Ricart tosses at him without overreacting to it.

The murky, analog-y blare gets going from the opening notes of "Your bA Will Not Abandon Your Corpse." Ricart sets down a spidery pattern from a pedal-produced synth-bass and wails psychedelically on top of that. In the middle of the track, he comes up with an ascending chord vamp out of thin air, loops it, and contorts it all to hell for the remainder of the song, as he continues to pull out feedback more effects from his large arsenal. All the while, soloing with an unmechanical passion on his guitar as Lohman provides a modulated rumble.

That gives you a pretty good idea of how the remaining six tracks go, but there's odd little twists or tricks here and there that are unique to the song: "Izezi And his bA" has a more clearly defined chord progression that Ricart improvises very proficiently over; "Dialogue Of A Man With His bA," is highlighted by a unmistakably jazzy guitar solo; and you can hear Delta blues note bending on "Dialogue Of A Man With His bA." It's the kind of unpredictability that usually comes from totally improvised sessions.

I thought of finishing by stating something clever like "this is the best album Sonny Sharrock never made," but in truth, Sharrock never would have made this record, anyway. Maybe that's because Matta Gawa goes even further out beyond the frontier to create something that can only be described as a Matta Gawa record. And I'm hoping there's more such records in the near future."-Pico, SomethingElseReviews

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Related Categories of Interest:

Improvised Music
Rock and Related
Improvised Rock
Guitarists, &c.
Percussion & Drums

Get additional information at Something Else!

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Product Information:


Label: Engine
Catalog ID: e035
Squidco Product Code: 13919

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2010
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard foldover
Recorded on January 10th, at The Country Ghetto, Canaan, NY


Edward Ricart-guitar

Sam Lohman-drums

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Track Listing:

1. Your Ba Will Not Abandon Your Corpse 13:17

2. Izezi And His Ba 4:41

3. bAs Of Re 8:18

4. Dialogue Of A Man With His Ba 13:10

5. Is A Ba Among You 4:59

6. Your Ba Is Within You 10:00

7. My Ba Cannot Be Kept From My Corpse 1:53