The Squid's Ear Magazine


Star City Survivor: Wilderness (Soul City Sounds)

The follow-up to their debut album, Orbital Decay, finds guitarist Phil Venable and drummer Tommy Jackson delving deeper into their free duo referencing free jazz, ambient, no wave, and other forms of experimental and avant-garde music, their often turbulent dialog inspired by a desire to find hope in the world despite a contemporary period of death and injustice.
 

Price: $12.95



Quantity:

In Stock

Quantity in Basket: None

Log In to use our Wish List
Shipping Weight: 2.00 units

Sample The Album:





product information:

Personnel:



Phil Venable-guitar

Tommy Jackson-drums


Click an artist name above to see in-stock items for that artist.




UPC: 755491298596

Label: Soul City Sounds
Catalog ID: SCS0015
Squidco Product Code: 34440

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2024
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Hondo Creek Studios, in Pittsboro, North Carolina, on December 16th, 2023.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"The improvisations laid down by guitarist Phil Venable and drummer Tommy Jackson on Wilderness are stark, powerful and uncompromising. The three compositions on the album were cut in a single marathon session at Hondo Creek Studios, with engineer Mike Nicholson. Venable and Jackson produced the sessions, keeping the sound raw and primal.

"I think we all hoped things would get better in the 2020's, but it seems like we're lost in a haze of fascism and violence," Venable said. "The past year was a thicket of conflict and death. I don't think the human race knows the way forward, so we're stuck in a vicious circle of retribution. These songs sprang out of a desire to see some kind of hope, despite all the death and injustice.

"Star City Survivor doesn't rehearse," Venable continued, "but that's not to say we aren't thinking about our playing, or how to communicate with each other and the listener. Themes definitely popped up, either consciously or unconsciously."

"I'd say Wilderness is a noise record," Jackson said. "Phil and I both have eclectic music tastes. We draw inspiration from a lot of different influences like free jazz, ambient, no wave, and other forms of experimental or avant-garde music."

The set opens with "Loss." Slow, brooding distorted guitar notes, with a long sustain, are supported by hissing cymbals and random bursts of bass drum and tom toms. The guitar pulls you down into a pit of grief, with the drums expressing anger and frustration. Halfway through, Venable unwinds a short, repeating melodic figure against Johnsons fractured rhythms, but the tension remains high until everything slowly fades out.

"I listened to 'Alabama' by John Coltrane a lot this past year," Venable said. "It's the song he wrote to express his feelings about the 16th Street Baptist Church Bombing, carried out by The Klan in 1963. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to deal with humanity's inhumanity. This is one response."

"A Descending Visitation" was the first tune Johnson and Venable tracked for the album. They weren't sure it was anything but a warm up, but it exploded into an exploration of avant-garde noise. Venable's buzzing guitar notes slip into some frenzied rock shredding, while Johnson's drumming breaks the tempo into scattered fragments. Venable alternates between brief melodic phrases and waves of feedback. Johnson moves freely, never settling down into a single rhythm for more than a few bars, matching Venable's aggressive attack.

Venable calls "In A Barren And Howling Waste" the "primal scream of the recording." It opens quietly with bent, sitar-like notes from the guitar and Johnson's drums rumbling down in the mix, like storm clouds building up before a downpour. The guitar noise slowly increases, veering into blues and rock, drenched with overtones, while Jackson fills the background with snare rolls, snapping cymbals and kick drum accents. The tempo slowly increases moving into prog rock territory, with hints of '60s metal in the mix. After another spattering of cymbals, the guitar adds wha-wha notes and effects from a Danelectro Back Talk pedal, producing a dark psychedelic drone and rolling flurries of notes. Jackson's snare rolls, bass kicks and cymbals suggest a sprint to dodge the downpour and lightning. The tension between guitar and drums remains relentless to the end, with no suggestion of release. To close, Venable adds short jolts of noise, with melodic fragments that suggest the WWI song "Over There," slowly descending into a steam of feedback, underscored by Johnson's sizzling cymbals and crackling snares. "This track conveys the 'wilderness' of the title," Venable said. "I think we've all been lost in it, to some degree, for the past few years. Hopefully, we'll we come out on the other side, with the help of our faith and the music."

The duo's debut, Orbital Decay, came out of a more impromptu session. Venable and Jackson had met each other playing in another project, but didn't know each other well. They hadn't played together often before going in to record, so the feeling was more tentative. Wilderness was informed by the bond they forged playing together over the course of a year.

When they play live, the music is just as adventurous. "As you might imagine, we're loud," Venable said. "A live show tends to be different. We might add people on trumpet, sax or additional percussion and improvise as much as we can. I'm curious to see what we recorded for Wilderness becomes during a live performance. They'll probably turn into pieces that shrink or expand, depending on the night."

Phil Venable has years of experience on both acoustic and electric bass and guitar and has played in a wide variety of rock, jazz and improvisational settings. He runs Soul City Sounds, a label that's produced jazz and spoken word albums by a wide variety of musicians and poets, including North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green, free jazz trio Tragic Assembly, Ken Moshesh, HoOdEleCtuaL and Venable himself.

Tommy Jackson was inspired to play after hearing the trio of albums put out by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. His parents signed him up for drum lessons when he was a boy and the drums became a part of his life. He played guitar and bass in rock bands during his teenage years and vibraphone and piano in college. He's released several albums of jazz, rock and R&B and plays classic rock tunes with the Reeves House Band."



"The members of this guitar/drums duo live in North Carolina's Triangle, a conglomeration of metropolitan areas that contains three major research universities and several thriving cities. So, it's fair to say that Star City Survivor's second album is named for a desired state, not the location its members actually inhabit. But if Wilderness is where they want to be, rest assured, they know how to get there.

Guitarist Phil Venable opens "Loss," the first of the record's three tracks, with a sequence of sullen, grimy figures. His phrasing and penchant for fuzz tones root this music in rock; he understands that there are moments where an unclean buzz is the best thing to play, and he goes there with conviction. But from the first cymbal flourish, drummer Tommy Jackson makes it clear that his music is not confined to one stylistic cubbyhole. He hits hard and fills up space, but his surging attack creates shape and movement without locking into a groove.

"Loss" lasts nearly 10 minutes. It's hardly an amuse-bouche, but it's still the shortest thing on Wilderness. The music increases in dimension, intensity and resources, expanding to incorporate dustbowl-bleak melodicism and acid-rain ambience into its belching volcanic storm. While Jackson and Venable don't necessarily need technology to bulk up their sound, they're not afraid to take advantage of it; some delay units get a workout on "In A Barren And Howling Waste," running slippery loops against the prevailing deluge to hallucinatory effect. But then Venable steps on the wah-wah pedal, unleashing a barrage that carries all before it."-Bill Meyer


Get additional information at Magnet Magazine

Artist Biographies

"Phil Venable is a Chapel Hill, NC composer and multi-instrumentalist. He plays in numerous groups including Tragic Assembly and The Phil Venable - Paul Swest Duo."

-Soul City Sounds 4/22/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Thomas Jackson is a New York City and North Carolina drummer based in Harlem, NY.

-Tommy Jackson Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/tommyjacksondrums/)
4/22/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. Loss 9:46

2. A Descending Visitation 11:12

3. In A Barren And Howling Waste 25:45

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
Guitarists, &c.
Percussion & Drums
Duo Recordings
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers

Search for other titles on the label:
Soul City Sounds.


Recommended & Related Releases:
Venable, Phil
Bassworks, Vol 1
(Soul City Sounds)
Three muscular and inventive solo improvisations on the acoustic upright bass from North Carolina bassist and composer Phil Venable, a member of Tragic Assembly and The Phil Venable - Paul Swest Duo, recorded in the studio in 2022, the three "Basswork" parts are mostly demonstrating his strong walking and plucking skills, at times applying objects to his strings.
Other Recommended Releases:
Tragic Assembly + Tatsuya Nakatani
Live at the Artscenter
(Soul City Sounds)
The NC Tragic Assembly free improvising trio of Charles Chace on guitar, Crowmeat Bob on reeds and Phil Venable on upright bass are joined for this 2022 concert at Carrboro, NC's ArtCenter by improvising percussion powerhouse Tatsuya Nakatani, adding sonic expansion and rhythmic punctuation to this trio's typically drum free configuration, heard in four striking improvisations.
Venable, Phil / Jphono1
Nowhere Beacons Everywhere
(Soul City Sounds)
Jphono1, aka guitarist John Harrison, working with Carboro, NC improvising guitarist and Soul City Sounds label leader Phil Venable, along with input from John Crouch and Ken Moshesh for drum & percussion input, release this experimental album of strange drones, grooves and ambient electronic sounds, beautifully paced with a expansive breadth of concept.
Venable, Phil
Bringing The Light [CD EP]
(Soul City Sounds)
A new Free Jazz album inspired by Pharoah Sanders' Karma, from the North Carolina ensemble led by upright bassist, guitarist and Soul City Sounds label-leader Phil Venable with Crowmeat Bob on saxophone, Ken Moshesh on percussion and Tommy Jackson on drums, plus a work for spoken word with NC Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green and a song inspired by BLM with vocalist Jennifer Evans.
Magee, Massimo
Networking
(Orbit577)
With each solo intended for a specific recipient, London saxophonist Magee recorded a series of improvisations during the pandemic isolations, retaining two of the recordings as pure solo Magee, the others virtual duos with: Travis D. Johnson on synth, Tim Green on drums, Joshua Weitze on guitar, A.F. Jones for resampling, Thomas Milovac on bass, and Lance Austin Olsen on guitar.
Star City Survivor
Orbital Decay
(Soul City Sounds)
Electric free improvisation with a caustic edge, stellar burns with titles like "Broken Navigation" or "The Sun is a Ball of Hate", from the North Carolina duo of guitarist Phil Venable (Tragic Assembly) and NY/NC drummer Tommy Jackson, who explore the atmospheric drag on their far-reaching dialogs through propulsive energy burns and moments of dark stellar voids.
Perelman / Shipp / Cosgrove
Live in Carrboro
(Soul City Sounds)
The second album release from the trio of New York improvisers Ivo Perelman on tenor saxophone and Matthew Shipp on piano with DC drummer Jeff Cosgrove, captured live in North Carolina at the Carborro ArtsCenter for an extended, nearly hour-long journey of concentrative interplay, articulate soloing and diverse and authoritative dynamics of fervent and reflective moods.
Green, Jaki Shelton
The River Speaks of Thirst [VINYL]
(Soul City Sounds)
A collection of poems written by and read by ninth Poet Laureate of North Carolina and the first African American and third woman to hold the title--Jaki Shelton GreenÐ-presenting 11 texts with experimental sound work arranged by Shirlette Ammons, a fascinating set of observations and an insightful selection of "political statement, cultural commentary, and an aesthetic milestone".
Green, Jaki Shelton
I Want to Undie You [CD EP]
(Soul City Sounds)
A CD EP from North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green, the first African American and third woman to receive the appointment, persenting her work "I Want to Undie You" expressing her sorrow at the unexpected death of her daughter Imani and a celebration of her life, with audio arrangements by Alec Ferrel, plus versions of the text and music only.
Green, Jaki Shelton
The River Speaks of Thirst
(Soul City Sounds)
A collection of poems written by and read by ninth Poet Laureate of North Carolina and the first African American and third woman to hold the title--Jaki Shelton GreenÐ-presenting 11 texts with experimental sound work arranged by Shirlette Ammons, a fascinating set of observations and an insightful selection of "political statement, cultural commentary, and an aesthetic milestone".
Tragic Assembly
Blood Drains And Memories
(Soul City Sounds)
The Durham, NC free improvising trio of Crowmeat Bob on alto & tenor saxophones, clarinet & guitar, Phil Venable on double bass and Charles Chance on drums notch up their playing, with Crowmeat Bob performing on both reeds and electric guitar as the band explores breaking down the barrier between subconsciousness and expression through collective improv.
Venable, Phil / Paul Swest Duo
Kaolin
(Soul City Sounds)
Phil Venable, the Chapel Hill, North Carolina bass player known for his work in the free jazz outfit Tragic Assembly, pairs up with Tragic Assembly drummer Charles Chace for an excursion into the outer limits of improvisation, the album title a reference to a medicinal clay and a riff off of the Charles Mingus song "Moanin".
Tragic Assembly
Instability
(Soul City Sounds)
The trio of North Carolina Triangle free jazz players Crowmeat Bob on bass clarinet, clarinet, alto & tenor saxophones, Phil Venable on upright bass, and Charles Chance on drums, Venable and Chance known from The Paul Swest band, here in a studio album of seven collective free improvisations using open and often abstract approaches to melody and rhythm.
Venable, Phil
Bassworks, Vol 1
(Soul City Sounds)
Three muscular and inventive solo improvisations on the acoustic upright bass from North Carolina bassist and composer Phil Venable, a member of Tragic Assembly and The Phil Venable - Paul Swest Duo, recorded in the studio in 2022, the three "Basswork" parts are mostly demonstrating his strong walking and plucking skills, at times applying objects to his strings.
McKenzie II, Donald Sturge Anthony (feat. Elliott Sharp, Bill Laswell and Vernon Reid)
Silenced II - Views from the Auction Block
(577 Records)
Drummer Donald Sturge Anthony McKenzie II trades off duos with a set of masterful musicians in the second volume of his "Silenced" project, here with guitarist Elliott Sharp for a complex and inspired dialog; with bassist Bill Laswell for a rich and moody soundscape; and with guitarist Vernon Reid in a piece for McKenzie's daughter; plus one solo drum piece.
Kaplan, Noah Quartet
Out Of The Hole
(ezz-thetics by Hat Hut Records Ltd)
West Coast composer and saxophonist Noah Kaplan, associated with Anthony Coleman, David Tronzo, Peter Erskine, Rinde Eckert, Joe Morris, Mat Maneri, Joe Maneri, &c., here in his 3rd album with his Noah Kaplan Quartet, in a set of original compositions and one standard performed with Joe Morris (guitar), Giacomo Merega (electric bass) & Jason Nazary (drums, electronics).



The Squid's Ear Magazine

The Squid's Ear Magazine

© 2002-, Squidco LLC