Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Graveyards - Cinders (Sergent Massacre LP)

As I mentioned earlier, Ben Hall came through campus recently as part of Trauma, and as he is wont to do he lay some beautiful stuff on me, this LP being one of them. Only the second release on the up-and-coming Sergent massacre label, the disc sees two side long explorations with the Graveyard crew in full on quartet mode, aka Coccyx (I believe...), Hans Buetow, John Olson and of course Hall.

The first side opens with some tingling bells and electronic lurch along with Olson and Coccyx's saxodrone sputterings. Soon the whole thing drops down to an electronicless zone of echoing horn lines and Tibetan style bell clatter that is some of the most focused and restrained work I've heard from the unit yet without slipping into any sort of silence-as-composition forms. Not that they aren't perfectly capable of that too of course... actually, much of the first half of the side is little more than a tapering off from the beginning, everything slinking backwards into the night as the saxes scream and careen around their concrete studio. Soft murmurs from Buetow's cello interlace with breathy crevices that are so thick and steamy that they can melt the skin right off you if you're not careful.

Second side starts off dronier than the group usually gets, with nice crispy shimmers below undulating waves of feedback before the electronics enter full force, splurging all over this tranquil terrain. The electronics slip in so nicely with the rest of it though that it all builds into genuine communication, creating deep pockets of fragile improvised spaces for events to unfold. Really get in to the sounds on this, committing to a heavy approach that the group usually achieves through spontaneity rather than the relative consistency on display here. Soon the whole thing sifts back to just some drum scrapings and super high, nearly indecipherable Waves style electronic work... fumbles along for a bit here, with momentary drum moves that get so quiet so as to become textural. That the group can then rebuild it into its own machinistic improv hole speaks volumes to the abilities on display here. Really one of their best sides yet.

Never really ceases to amaze me with these guys... their level of interaction and shared sense of improvisational modes is so fully realized that the unit keeps dropping bomb after bomb and bomb after bomb keeps getting overlooked by every community that should be appreciating this stuff aside from the noise/experimental basement scene... it's too noisy for the general jazz community, but the free dudes should be all over this... even with a nice write-up in a recent Wire, and Hall's stint with Dixon and all, this is some heavy duty shit that manages to find all its own zones and rides them out over and over and nobody seems to be the wiser. Dudes just get it. When will everyone else catch on? BEAUTIFUL artwork too, and with another LP out by Spykes (his first release, believe it or not...) you know this is going to be a major player.

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