The Squid's Ear Magazine

Tragic Assembly: Instability <i>[Used Item]</i> (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.

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Crowmeat Bob Pence-bass clarinet, clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone

Phil Venable-upright bass

Charles Chance-drums

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UPC: 195269156114

Label: Soul City Sounds
Catalog ID: SCS00030
Squidco Product Code: 33701

Format: CD
Condition: VG
Released: 2022
Country: USA
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded at Todd Warner Studios, on January 23rd, 2022, by Todd Warner.

This is a USED (previously owned) item

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.
Previously played Squidco store copy, used for cataloging and samples, in excellent condition.

"Free jazz is often pigeonholed as a decidedly unsubtle art form, too often stereotyped as a bunch of people peeling the paint off the walls with the expressive force of their unrelenting, full-volume squalls.

And yes, there is plenty of that kind of free jazz, and it can be positively thrilling.

But more thrilling, I would posit, is the more understated flavor of free jazz, the kind that foregrounds melody and texture and the full range of instrumental timbres. Tragic Assembly makes that kind of free jazz on its debut album, Instability.

The trio consists of three Triangle improv veterans: reed player Crowmeat Bob Pence, bassist Phil Venable (The Paul Swest), and Charles Chace (The Paul Swest, Speed Stick) who, for this band iteration, trades in his usual guitar for drums. Album opener "Best Static" proves to be a kind of mission statement in the creative potential of restraint. Even though all three play lots of notes and fill up the sonic space, there is transparency and clarity to the collective results.

Anchored by Chace's skittering, meterless beats, Venable and Pence overlay different kinds of melodies, rarely overlapping but always flowing in complementary swirls. Even when Pence abandons pitches in favor of pops and splatters, the group still maintains the sangfroid of those early Ornette Coleman albums.

On "A Person Followed," Pence switches over to bass clarinet and luxuriates in long lines. The song reaches a subtly frenetic peak when Venable picks up his bow to complicate the texture even further. The album gradually builds up steam, closing with some near freakouts in "Stilted Transmission" and "That Vacation Friend," but even those feel somehow reserved (especially compared to what all three are capable of). [...]"-Indy Week

Get additional information at Indy Week

Artist Biographies

"Upon graduating with a degree in cinema production in the 90's, Crowmeat Bob swiftly went to work at the Record and Tape Exchange and started playing bass and guitar with friends (primarily guitar guru John Aguero) in his parents' basement and in a friend's garage. No gigs were played during those years; they were a freaky little neurotic island in the strip-mall wasteland of northern Virginia. The prevailing aesthetic was some kind of heavy splatterjazz-noise-math-rock-free-improv, with 'frop breaks spent listening intently to all kinds of bidness like electric Miles, Black Sabbath, Messiaen, Sonic Youth, Marc Ribot, Cecil Taylor, Bartok, Last Exit, The Stooges, you name it. He eventually made the move to North Carolina in like '96, where he resides to this day, and picked up sax and bass clarinet while continuing with guitar.

He's played with about a billion bands, either as a composer or sideman, and been gigging on about a weekly basis since settling in the Research Triangle in 2000. Becoming fairly well known as part of the small "free improv" scene there, he was fortunate enough to get to play with a lot of great touring musicians, some of whom you probably revere. And mixing with the indie rockers provided ample opportunity to add sax to various rock'n'roll bands. His playing can be heard on local labels like Merge, Sorry State, and Paradise of Bachelors. Now that he is almost a halfway-decent player and has had a lot of experience writing music for many different kinds of ensembles, he has finally put out a record as a leader: Judge Schreber's Avian Choir is the name he gives to a recurring project that takes slightly different forms, in this case a large string ensemble with a heavy rhythm section."

-Bob Pence 9/13/2023

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

"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 9/13/2023

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

Track Listing:

1. Best Static 11:35

2. A Person Followed 10:27

3. Reasonable Trash 6:13

4. Man Damage 5:17

5. Dedicated To Shoegaze 1:44

6. Stilted Transmission 9:41

7. That Vacation Friend 3:16

Related Categories of Interest:

Used CDs
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Collective Free Improvsation
Trio Recordings
New in Improvised Music
Used CD Alphabetic List

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