Thursday, May 10, 2018

Henry Kaiser-The Deep Unreal; Metalanguage Records, 2017

It was completely unexpected by Disaster Amnesiac to have come into a copy of Henry Kaiser's The Deep Unreal. I found myself being handed one by the man himself after a scheduling snafu had brought us into a brief bit of contact at an Oakland recording studio. The CD was quickly loaded into my listening rotation, and has been, much as I imagine Henry's views during his deep sea dives to be, full of odd and delightful surprises.
Opening track The Story Of My 2017 Austral Spring At The McMurdo Intake Jetty plunges the listener quite rapidly into Kaiser's personal ocean of sound, wherein he finger picks chiming single notes that drift atop currents of delayed drone figures. These sounds, per the liner note all improvised with no looping or overdubs, blend into a long form meditation of the guitar and its sonic possibilities. Kaiser's been playing for a long time now, and many of his approaches are at play here: glassy tones, 'plexed filigrees, quick runs along the strings, micro tonal zones and more. All of this coalesces into a piece that has felt both seductively relaxing and scarily intense to me as I've listened. It's a marvel to hear all of this real time sound organization as it blooms into and out of its beautiful moods and modes. Disaster Amnesiac has thought that it has the kind of "natural" feel that much instrumental music aspires to, the emotional depth that New Age music promised, the other worldliness that I've always wanted from Psychedelic music. Deep within this track is a kind of purity of playing which should serve as an inspiration to those with ears to hear it. Henry dives way deep.
Unreal's eponymous track kicks off with a bit more darkness than its predecessor while Kaiser continues to investigate the the areas into which his playing drifts. Don't panic though, as he's soon spinning those luminescent notes, clavichord-like in their timbre and pushed through some fascinating pedal processes. It's as if one were watching strange jellies and bubbles as they journey through some deep zone within the ocean of Terry Riley's brain. Disaster Amnesiac has sworn that I've heard a quote from My Favorite Things, to boot! The Deep Unreal does have the kind of raw openness of an elongated Coltrane jam, with the way in which the piece spirals ever more into itself, the music revealing more and more as it makes its way through time. Stunning technique throughout, but  one never gets the showing off vibe that can mar the work of certain shredders. This technique is sublimated to aesthetics, from which art emerges.
Never one to shy away from Blues, Kaiser plays a good one on A Spoonful Of Ice Death Blues. The delayed tones setting up a somewhat foreboding mood as the the finger picking dances atop. It's tough to believe that this track was recorded live, especially when a ripping solo begins to emerge from this initial interplay. I've listened to a fair amount of soloing from Henry, and this one ranks as probably the most effectively wiggy one. He goes off into a progression that is blasting and raw, yet chillingly smart as it melds intellect and emotion into a killer statement of what the guitar is capable of showing when in certain hands. Ice Death Blues leaves whomever are currently Kaiser's contemporaries in the dust as far as real expression within the Blues is concerned. Dig it and be blown away.
The CD ends with Henry picking up an acoustic guitar for First You Fall In Love With Antarctica-And Then It Breaks Your Heart. Here, he shows his Kottke/Fahey side in a sweetly melodic piece of American plucking. It's another piece of sheer beauty from his mind and fingers. Just gorgeous, and over quickly. Please pay attention and let your heart melt as you do so.
Mention must also be made of the sonic depth of The Deep Unreal. Disaster Amnesiac has noted that the tones on this disc, from low to high, are all so expertly captured. The former are speaker-shaking in their presence, and the latter are incredibly clear in theirs. No engineer is listed, so I'm assuming that Henry was charge of that aspect as well. Tape Op readers, take note!
The Deep Unreal is a masterful work from Henry Kaiser. Disaster Amnesiac can't say much more than that. You just gotta listen to it.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Nava Spatiala-Noisenautics Vol. IX; Muteant Sounds Net Label, 2018, digital download

One thing that Disaster Amnesiac is learning for certain as I continue to dive into the download thicket sent to me be Muteant Sounds is that along with being a purveyor of fine Free Jazz, the label is also gifted with some really great Noise/Industrial acts. Seeing as that I'm a fan of the latter as much as being one of the former, taking a flyer on them was obviously pretty easy.
Bucharest based Nava Spatiala have cooked up their own brand of Noise, dubbed it Noisenautics, and have been lucky enough to have releaseed Noisenautics Vol. IX on Muteant Sounds. Consisting of two tracks, this offering from Miron Ghiu and Claudiu Chihaescu boils and bubbles with a pace that flows like hot lava.
Opening track Mental Noise Detox starts off with rocket ship sounds that are wrapped in spiky feedback and sharp dial tones. This combination forms a drone that sets up and continues for several minutes of Noise immersion. What Disaster Amnesiac has really enjoyed about this sound bath is the way in which it its pace allows for either deep listening or background ambiance. There is real depth to the sound processing, and the listener can either fall into it or stand/move/dance before it. I'm always grateful to Noise acts that allow the option! Nova Spatiala's promo blurb states that the group's sounds "...could make you dance or or get tripped out on a journey of sounds...", and I'm in full agreement with them. Detox wends its way through many discrete zones, but it always has the feel of being one piece. Picture yourself on a boat journeying down a glitch-ey river of multi-colored information that manifests itself as physical embodiment of sound. When it ends, you'll most definitely be feeling its traces.
Noisenautics Vol. IX second track, Morning Glory, cuts in quickly with percussive shaking sounds and more glitch.  What sounds like a keyboard ostinato takes up the pace even more, and the listener is off and running into a somewhat more claustrophobic area. Siren sounds rise up, giving the impression of a kosmiche krieg being fought. The battle lines settle in for more of the nuanced drone which Nava Spatiala are do adept at dishing out. Toward the end of the track, Disaster Amnesiac has felt encased in some kind of sonic ice block; these chilly sounds begin to warble and eventually lead to a very dramatic hard cutoff. I've actually had to go to their page at the Muteant Bandcamp page to check and hear if my file was corrupted. It wasn't. The track just has a jarring, hard stop that completes the listening experience is a somewhat frustrating way. Ah, well, I guess that Noise shouldn't be all about ease of use, now, should it?
Combining Noise with nuance, Noisenautics Vol. IX would surely be of use to fans along multiple stops of the Experimental Music spectrum. Maybe pair it with some of Muteant Sound's more Fire Music offerings for a greater view of the depth currently on display within the international Outsider Music world. Stay tuned for more reviews of Muteant releases, as Disaster Amnesiac is nowhere near the end of download codes sent over from them!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Abbath-s/t; Season of Mist Records, 2016

Every time that Disaster Amnesiac enjoys and/or writes about any Metal made past, say, 1990, I confess that I feel a certain amount of mental trepidation. It's the details that really scare me: it's pretty much a given that after that date, micro-genres within Metal began to take root, and one can certainly be called out as a phony for missing even the slightest detail. Still, Disaster Amnesiac continues to enjoy it, and goddamn but I've enjoyed the hell out of Abbath's powerful 2016 release, Abbath.
Marching boots let the listener know right away: there will be no peace for you here on Abbath as To War! slams in with a stomping groove from drummer Creature as Abbath frames it with some seriously violent, ripping tri-tones. A minute in, and the entire rhythm section locks in and leads in to a blast beat that supports the vocals. This piece is all kinds of dramatic, and I swear that I hear a subtle nod to Tony Iommi at one point. It's these kinds of nods to their antecedents that often make Metal bands compelling to Disaster Amnesiac; paired with the sheer creativity displayed on the opener, To War! sets the tone for the Metal massacre that follows it.
Abbath stays locked in for Winterbane, as Creature continues to slay behind the kit, driving bassist King and Abbath toward a pounding 2/4 breakdown and a snapping bridge part which grinds out Power Metal riffs. King coaxes huge steel pole riffs from his bass and Abbath throws out more delicious dissonance before Creature pauses, signalling a return to the stomp. Headbanging fucking delights abound before some fine acoustic picking pairs with a half time breakdown, evidence of master song crafting and arrangement. Abbath's vocals are great on this ending tag, too.
Perhaps a bit more Iommi influence shows on the spiky lead guitar intro to Ashes of the Damned, a medieval lute sound after which the group quickly pulls out their Thrash chops, a "demonic storm" of pure Metal fury, punctuated by well-placed synth hits. This cut travels into a major chord anthemic zone for a brief moment before that doomed lute arises again, leading to a quick, thrashing outro. Disaster Amnesiac's perceptions are left on the side of the road, whipped by the frenzy into exhaustion.
The pace slows down, but certainly not the energy, for Ocean of Wounds. Creature sets things up with heavy tom tom pounding. The thick guitar and bass tones perch atop the beat as Abbath croaks out his lyrics. It all leads to one of the best hooks that Disaster Amnesiac has ever had the pleasure of hearing from Black Metal. Every time I hear it, my excitement level jumps up several notches. Abbath seem to know not to abuse a riff like this, as it's only utilized twice before the songs fades away. Disaster Amnesiac has already mentioned song craft, but dammit, I must do so again. Abbath is awash in astute examples of it, and one need look no further than Wounds for great examples of it.
Then again, one really should continue listening, as I suspect one would, for Count the Dead. A post-battle order, given in the rain, presumably reeking of blood and guts, starts the song off as Abbath rips out high end chords for King and Creature to lock in with. They march through the grimy field and into yet another great goddamn chorus, repeated twice, before another blast beat is set up. The group swirls around within the fast rhythm as Abbath intones Simon Dancaster's bloody lyrical vision and spurts out a great melodic solo. Dig on how rough his throat sounds on that last chorus. Dude ain't holding back, that's for sure.
Speedy double time Thrash pushes the next track, Fenrir Hunts, quickly out into the air. Creature breaks things down while never losing sight of the beat as King and Abbath join him, speedily spraying out their Metal assault. The drums at times threaten to overtake everything else going on on this track. It's most definitely a showcase for a kick ass drummer. Abbath adds some more of his lead guitar voice as the trio breaks things down and falls into the blast. The ending portion of Hunts has a stumbling, almost tiered portion before returning to solid Thrash to end. An almost Technical Metal song, and Abbath nail it.
Is Root of the Mountain a sly nod to Blackmore or Priest? Disaster Amnesiac hears a lot of British steel in its opening, clean pre-NWOBHM tones that set up a solid 4/4 opening verse. They end up at a triplet feel, almost swinging, much the same that many bands did pre-Metallica. Clearly, as in Abbath's case, they still do, and it works. King gets downright Geezer on the bass here, too. This one's absolutely rooted in the sounds of Abbath's progenitors, but they've built their own, powerful sounds and firmly embedded them on this mountainside.
Abbath concludes with tight thrashing of Endless. The group, seemingly not contented to end with the power and majesty of Root, throws down one last ripping gauntlet of pure speed and fury. They lock in with more of that whip tight precision, in Dancaster's words, "....Dauntless Fearless Tireless Relentless..." Ah.....hell yeah. Forty five or so minutes in, and Abbath is still kicking the listener squarely between the perceptual nuts, and that ending fade guarantees that they'll still be there for you when you return, waiting....
If you're a fan of well crafted, tightly played Metal, of the Black or many other varieties, you surely will want to return to Abbath, too.


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Z'EV-Mackay Duo-Live KFJC 2007; Muteant Sounds, 2018 digital release

The initial plan that Disaster Amnesiac had for reviewing the massive Muteant Sounds file transfer was strictly linear. I'd get to each one in the order in which they'd arrived. It was scotched when Live KFJC 2007, the recording of z'ev and Steve Mackay in duo at the BEST RADIO STATION IN THE WORLD, arrived at my inbox. I knew that I'd be listening to it before any of the earlier ones received. Disaster Amnesiac had been very excited to hear it. I mean, come on! The brilliant Industrial percussionist paired with the equally brilliant Noise Rock tenor man, caught live and sweating in the Pit at The Wave of the West? There was just no question that I was gonna dive in pretty quickly.
Live KFJC 2007 starts off with metallic gonging sounds from z'ev, which are quickly joined by clicking pad sounds from Steve's tenor. Mackay does not stay there long. He plays a Bluesy statement shortly thereafter, which in many ways sets the tone for this set. It's not that there aren't plenty of moments of fiery abstraction from the two masters of the their craft; indeed, plenty of moments of energetic wailing, especially from Mackay, occur. That said, as I've listened, it's struck me just how earthy and, again, blue, so many of the sounds on this recording are. Disaster Amnesiac hears a lot more Ornette than Pharaoh, let's put it that way. I'm pretty sure that there's a Lonely Woman quote at some point, even. Steve is by no means subdued with his playing. It's just quite contemplative much of the time. z'ev does a great job of matching Mackay's sax language. I've marveled at his ability with accompaniment on here. At times, Disaster Amnesiac has thought to myself "...z'ev plays the Blues...", mostly on account of just how in the pocket his playing is throughout. Aside from some short bursts in which his partner lays out, z'ev sounds content to lay down relatively quiet percussive patterns and drones alongside the sax. As usual, it's all he really needs to do: when z'ev's playing, one is bound to feel it, whether piano or fortissimo. The essential quality of z'ev's musical adeptness, shown by the way in which he can mesh with another player, is a huge revelation here. I realize that he spent a lot time in his later years playing in combination with other musicians. Still, that point really comes out on Live KFJC 2007.
This relatively short release features two committed and proven musical greats, melding their aesthetics into an earthy and subtle statement. Right at the end, as they introduce each other, you'll realize, again, that they've both left us. Lucky for you and I both, they left us with recordings such as this. Cue it up and drift on off.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Kenny Millions-Multiplexity; Muteant Sounds, 2017

Again we return to the Muteant Sounds massive drop of downloads! This time, Disaster Amnesiac has been grooving to Kenny Millions' 1977 offering, Multiplexity. After repeated listening, I feel foolish that this guy's work has been unfamiliar to me! I am always telling myself and anyone that will listen about Jazz's bottomless well of talent, about how there's just so many great sounds out there, but......yeah. Disaster Amnesiac has been caught seriously off guard with this one.
Right from the jump, with Bop It, Millions and his crew: Peter Warren (tracks 1, 5, 6)/Mark Miller (tracks 2, 3) on bass, Sadiq Abdu Shahid on drums, and Garret List on trombone, slam into some seriously swinging instrumental interaction. Shahid hits things crisp and hard, knocking around with great rolling aplomb, and tight syncopation that melds like iron to Warren's big walking bass lines. Atop this, Millions speaks all kind of multiphonic dialects with his alto sax. His cries, wails, guffaws, and all around extended ruminations carry the attentive ear into the kind of aural abstractions that seem like such inherent qualities from reed instruments when in the hands of a superior player. Disaster Amnesiac has read about the mid-1970's time frame being a kind of dry spell for Jazz, but, clearly, whomever wrote those words was not aware of Kenny being on the scene. Multiplexmulti follows. This track of Musique Concrete styled experimentation features List and Millions getting odd with their voices, along with their respective axes. Buchla synth tones blend with 'bone bleats and flute trills as these dudes get very Avant Garde with it. As I've listened, my mind has conjured up fragments of Ira Cohen type films. This track would fit in fine with those kinds of moves.
The band moves back into earthier territory next, with the nice, lengthy Bossa Nova From Hell. Miller takes a great, plucky solo pretty early on, followed by a short statement from List, cool for its warbling tones, before Millions takes off on an extended sax musing. He starts off kind of low, before soaring up into higher register glossalalia. Shahid holds things down for him, varying his bossa beats with a feel that Disaster Amnesiac keeps thinking of as "gravillic" (see Anthony Braxton). It for sure ain't no half step. List steps back into the fray for some more duo exchanges with Kenny before the head statement is given again. There's a sophistication to this song, shown strongly within its harmonic voices, that you just gotta go with. These guys were players.
More pure abstraction occurs  with Lament For A Caged Lion, in which steaming Buchla sounds serve as a bed for plaintive bass clarinet playing from Millions. Kenny lays into this lament with passionate insight, giving human voice to some poor, caged creature. Sadiq steps out on the next track, What's the Difference Between a Pizza and a Jazz Musician?. This track's tight turns and corners are navigated easily by the drummer. His snare rolls fit in tightly with the (harm)melodics of the piece's head. He pairs sweet cymbal rolls with bowed bass from Warren before taking a kick ass solo on which his well tuned tom toms are played with musical fury, with stabbing interjections from the 'bone. It's the kind of solo that gets people standing in the live setting. Give it up for Shahid! Good lord what a great skins man.
Mulitplexity concludes the Blues-ey shuffle of Terrestrial Delectations, during which Kenny Millions serves up a sweet, extended solo that is indeed earthy in its tone as Warren throws down the Funk on an electric bass and Sadiq absolutely buries the pocket. Millions hits high notes, gets all kind of colorful, and just generally slays throughout. This track's groove is Miles wide, as if they'd been digging a tunnel from an extended stay in Agartha or Pangea. A very different solo turn from Shahid signals the close, and the band takes things home, struttin' all the damn way, as well they should. If you've got it, flaunt it!
As stated, Disaster Amnesiac is at somewhat of a loss as to why I've never been aware Kenny Williams, or the other stellar musicians on Multiplexity up to this point. If you've been listening to them, right on, if not, this is a fine way to be introduced to their talents. I guess that we all have catching up to do in one way or another.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Two blasts of sonic heaviness from The Pet Goat Records!

Last weekend Disaster Amnesiac was in attendance for a bittersweet event. Noisebridge Hackerspace, a really down to earth, fun spot for hackers and digital makers in the Mission District of San Francisco, was having what was likely to be its last Godwaffle Noise Pancakes show. Godwaffle itself is in real danger of not having anywhere to happen in the City, as Grux can't seem to find a new venue. Hopefully, he'll soldier on, as these shows are absolutely fun. Dario, main man of the powerful Noise project Blood of Chhinnamastika, hooked me up with a couple of recent releases from his The Pet Goat Records. As my bloodied perceptions stumble away from their sonic pounding, here are some enthused thoughts!

Blood of Chhinnamastika-self titled, cassette; The Pet Goat Records #97, no date given
Having seen Blood of Chhinnamastika live a handful of times, Disaster Amnesiac knows that it's a project that can seem somewhat assaulting. That said, my take is that Dario wants to find a way to get an audience moving, and as such will wade into their fray in order to do so. With this eponymous cassette tape, Blood of Chhinnamastika moves the battle to the home listener's ears. Big, whirling, fried electronics blast out from the three tracks contained within it. Power Electronics moves are thrown with jolting force, sometimes left to drone and waver dramatically, sometimes cut up and juxtaposed with recorded voices. Within the former spaces, and at high volumes, tracks such as Death Is the Greatest Teacher, See No Hope, and Unreality Tortures (great title!) kick some serious sonic ass as they fly out into the air. Huge, blackened blocks of what I'd imagine are sounds sourced from analog synthesizers, pedals, and digital methods are combined to stun the brain with their force. The cut ups at times provide some levity as the human voice is made to stumble, babbling away with stunted non-eloquence. Disaster Amnesiac can't help but wonder if these passages Blood of Chhinnamastika's none too subtle commentary on the human proclivity towards verbal diarrhea. At other times, it's as if the vocals of some subterranean being have been captured within their natural habitat. Demonic as all get out, that's for sure. Surreal and seriously fried, this tape must be cranked up loud for its full effect, and Disaster Amnesiac highly recommends that you follow suit.

Microwave Windows/Blood of Chhinnamastika-CD; The Pet Goat Records#98, no date given
The duo of Microwave Windows and Blood of Chhinnamastika actually played the Hackerspace event mentioned within the the intro to this post. Their set certainly was powerful, but it is this CD which really shows off their finely honed chemistry. Starting off with the burbling, bubbling sounds of Stab Homing, this pair dig down deep into some pretty bonkers action. Freespace Power follows on track two with some harsh feedback which leads into robotic death burps and junkyard scraping. This track keeps making Disaster Amnesiac think about the ending scene of the Exorcist III, in which, if recalled correctly, had some dire warning about the impending Hell on earth paired with a soundtrack that sounded a lot like this stuff. The Noise cuts directly into Sentient Craggy Mantilla from there, wherein some type of signal gets the shred treatment from competing banks of digitized mania, leading up to a wild, fuzzy retard that lingers into the disc's centerpiece, Call And (Phantom) Response. It weaves masterfully jacked beats, Blood's cut up techniques, waves of glitched mania and spewed feedback into a heavily layered treatise of Noise. This fucker rages and pummels for a good fifteen and one half minutes of extreme noise terror (yes, I know). Microwave Windows and Chhinnamastika proceed next down Too Many Rabbit Holes, in which signals get flanged and 'verbed. Disaster Amnesiac has been digging the percussive sounds on it, along with the shredding slow build of its second half, which melts into its earlier sonic elements. The Holes blend seamlessly into Smashing Paper Cranes; this second longest track on the CD gives off sparks of wiry energy. I hear a laser war in some past iteration of the planet coming from what I believe to be Moogerfoogers chained into a loop of audio barbed wire. Again, there are just layers and layers of stuff happening with the action. The relatively placid Atmospheric Chemistry ends things Pet Goat #98, with wheedling scraps of electronics and ghostly feedback spitting some demented goodbye. The last minute or so seem to even feature some type of emergency broadcast network sirens. Fitting, as Microwave Windows and Blood of Chhinnamastika have pretty much destroyed your shit with this release.

Places such as Noisebridge Hackerspace and getting more and more rare within the SF Bay Area, but, hey, Disaster Amnesiac has already told you that. Thankfully, there's a rich, varied Noise scene that's pretty deeply ensconced. Will these myriad acts have any spaces in which to play? I'm thinking that they'll find ways to get out and get down with their sounds. Surely, if you find these spots, you'll find the likes of Blood of Chhinnamastika and Microwave Windows going at it within them. In the meantime, one can find stellar examples of their moves at Pet Goat Records. Give 'em a click or two!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Steve Mackay and the Radon Ensemble-Tunnel Diner; Muteant Sounds digital release, 2017

Back we go to the Muteant Sounds haul for this installment of Disaster Amnesiac's 2018 campaign to make it ten years of my little corner of the internet writing game! Where does the time go?
We all know where Steve Mackay went, him being a member of the Stooges and all. One has to figure that his way out tenor honking on L.A. Blues was the initial serving of Out Jazz for many  a music fan, myself included. It was really cool to see that he spent his last years being recognized and lauded for his talents. As far as Disaster Amnesiac can tell, the decades between the Stooges initial moves and their eventual renaissance were lean for Mackay. Is this the case?
Originally released in an extremely limited vinyl edition (26 copies!?), Tunnel Diner has been given a much wider potential audience on this digital release from Muteant, and hopefully Mackay's sounds find their way into many more peoples' ears that way!
Starting off with Brooklyn, North Carolina, Mackay leads the charge with some very soulful phrasing which indeed blends the urban intensity often blown through the tenor saxophone with gritty countrified accents. As Disaster Amnesiac has listened, I've thought over and over and this sound being a prime example of the Harmelodic approach to music. This is not to say that it's at all academic sounding: we find some really juicy Jazz playing therein. Steve gets some really funky backing from what sounds like steel drums, which add even more sweetness to the nectar as they pair with slamming Funk rhythms from the drums and bass.
The drums switch to a kind of tribal pounding feel for Bohunk Lane. Wah wah bass and odd electronics skitch and skitter atop this drum maelstrom, a second line at Burning Man before Steve and another reed man (sorry, scant credits on the Bandcamp page), intertwine their horn riff, one of them eventually taking a short solo before the whole thing gets clipped off rather abruptly.
Mackay and his partner kick off Sans Frontiers with more of that great duo exchange, longer held notes being framed by electronics and Free drumming. Wordless vocalizing enters into the mix as the group kicks off into more of their energetic weaving, the group eventually getting kicked into overdrive by intense guitar chords. It would indeed be tough to put a fence around improvisations made up of energy levels this high.
The Frontier leads to a short interlude called Patrick's Brain Aneurysm where bells and snare rolls get tenor sax smears and mourning hollers before ending up at place of pure solo energy from Mackay. The saxophonist lays it out emotionally naked and intimate, pairing sax tones with sighs and moans.
Side A of Tunnel Diner concludes with Mixed Martial Language. A rolling drum line, more steel drums, bass guitar ostinato and wiggy sax lines lead up to some cathartic vocalizing from a contrite lyric from a dude that want's the listener to know that he's "trying". Disaster Amnesiac is glad to let into this crazed confessional, despite being a bit nervous at the emotional intimacy of it.
One thing that strikes Disaster Amnesiac as I've moved from side A to B on Tunnel Diner is that the band sounds as if they're getting a lot more warm, midway through this set.  Canal Street opens the side with some intricately honked tenor from Mackay, paired with electronic whisps before the steel drums strike up again, quickly followed by thick percussive maelstrom; all of this action pushes Steve into some passionate shredding, his voice going all manic and insistent.
This energy persists into 200,000 Sax Players In Nashville as the electric bass rolls, the percussion tumbles, and the sax offers up more of those fine voices that give off heavy Blues vibes.
These two pieces serve as introductions to the the LP's title track, in which the entire rhythm sections gels into a heavy marching tempo, as Tunnel Diner's surreal second line pushes Mackay to summon up the Pharaoh. The physical impact of his notes spread out from the speakers and push the ears around a bit before syncopating beautifully with the rest of the group. A bonkers, funky bass line pushes Soul to spare and, naturally, the group responds accordingly.
As more of those shards of electronics take Tunnel Diner out, they lead to a bit more of an introspective, ESP-Disk place for Tu Croire C'Est Gratuit???. Paired horns moan and mourn a bit on this one, giving Disaster Amnesiac thoughts of spiritual services in some doomed domicile. Eventually the guitar pushes the playing out into more rhythmic bump and grind: hands clap, cymbals pop, ring modulators whirr, and before too long the group is back on Bourbon St., kicking butt and flashing on high.
Naturally, it makes sense for the group to blast off from Sun Ra's confining planet (not Saturn, hint hint) to take things out, and out they certainly do with Voyage To Arcturus. The Radon Ensemble scrawls, beeps, blips, honks, and pounds on the tune, truly sounding at one point as they're more of a rocket engine than a group of mere Jazz men. A powerful sendoff, and, yes Space IS the Place for these dudes.
Presumably pleasing to Free Jazz heads and/or headbangers of the Stooge-ian stripe, Steve Mackay and the Radon Ensemble's Tunnel Diner is a fiery and powerful document of a legendary player, doing his thing, no holds barred and ripping. Disaster Amnesiac is sad that I never got to see this group play live. I suspect that this one will stay in my rotation for a good long while.