Thursday, February 18, 2010

Original Silence - 2007 - The First Original Silence

I initially found out about Original Silence due to the involvement of both Mats Gustafsson and Paal Nilssen-Love, who make up two-thirds of the excellent Norwegian/Swedish free jazz trio, The Thing. Because I'm such a big fan of that band (one of the few newer bands I listen to as much as the other free jazz classics of the 50's/60's/70's), I was naturally interested in hearing them and finding out more about them. Upon a simple Google search I found out Thurston Moore (c'mon, you know who he is), Massimo Pupillo (bassist of Zu), Terrie Ex joining Thurston on guitar (of the Ex, who's music I'm not familiar with), and Jim O'Rourke on electronics (who has been involved in far too many projects for me to mention). Needless to say, it sounded more than promising.

Let me tell you, my brethren, this is some truly spectacular improv. These guys have a chemistry together that bands who have been going for well over 10 years can only dream of. Where there calls for breathing space, the rhythm section will settle down and let the sax and electronics guide the way for a bit, then come back in with an explosive ferocity that sounds like Peter Brötzmann's Machine Gun put through a stack of lightning-stricken 6000-watt amplifier. Where it calls for an all-out atonal cacophony, these guys are on it like white on rice. They are also masters of the oddly groove-laden, almost danceable 4/4 parts, because they still attain the overall feeling of madness provided by the more chaotic sections while showing form and discipline.

The First Original Silence contains two songs, the first being an excellently-recorded 14-minute live documentation with the group seamlessly jumping from arhythmic and completely atonal free jazz to 4/4 noise rock at the drop of a hat. Surely this is a trait those familiar with The Thing will be used to, but never with such an extravagant line up.

The second song on the first album is a 44-minute free jazz/noise rock permutation that seems to explore more texture and do more with dynamics then the first track. Jim O'Rourke's electronics seem to play a bigger role on this track, and instead of Mats Gustafsson spitfiring atonal staccato sax squeals, he takes a more restrained approach to the slower sections, which, when mixed with the soaring guitar feedback and sizzling electronics, creates thick, monstrous swells of droning mayhem. It's very, very tasty. However, that's not to say this song doesn't have the all-out intensity contained on the first one. These musicians are all far too experienced and talented to not want to employ some sort of dynamics, especially in a long piece like this, so they spice it up with their fiery spurts of noisy free jazz, and FUCK do they do it well.

Face it, you need this album. And yes, I will be posting the second album sometime in the near future. Hopefully this year we'll see a third installment released.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Foot Village - 2009 - Anti-Magic

Foot Village is an LA-based quartet of skin-bashing weirdos, coming from a backdrop of bands such as Gang Wizard, Rainbow Blanket, and Drug the Corpse. They make a pummeling, boisterous, and percussive racket using nothing but their voices and drum kits, and with this stripped down method they create some of the most intriguing music to seep into my ears on in quite some time. And if you happen to be a percussionist like myself, Foot Village is a must hear, and their new full length, Anti-Magic, isn't a bad place to start.

I must say though, I think the band's cacophonous nature is better captured with a rawer production job as seen on earlier releases, most notably on the 2008 LP, Friendship Nation, and 2005 EP World Fantasy. But, nevertheless, Anti-Magic still shows Foot Village at the top of their game, and even shows their already on-the-dot tightness and proficiency in the field of drumming has improved since the first two full lengths. Plus, the final song "Chicken & Cheese 2 w/ Friends" shows sides of Foot Village that were never seen before, bringing in much more instrumentation and clever use of samples, and the rest I'll leave as a surprise.

If you're already familiar with Foot Village, you pretty much know what to expect with this album, but regardless, if you don't have this album already, download it now, and then buy it, along with the rest of their excellent discography.