Ettrick - Infinite Horned Abomination (Self-released CD-R)

Deja vu? Nah son, I got the Ettrick long-player in the mail the other day after being so enthused about their 3" CD-R on American Grizzly. In case you somehow missed my gushing last week, all you need to know about Ettrick (all I needed to know, anyway) is: two guys, one plays alto saxophone and the other plays tenor saxophone, they both play drums, and they're a black metal band. A black metal jazz band! Yeah! It's the kind of absurd idea that just has to work and you'll be thrilled to know it does. Oh does it ever. At least, in my books.
"Infinite Horned Abomination" (did they get Matt Bower on tap for that triple-loaded title? Did I already make a reference like this before?) boasts five tracks totalling almost forty minutes, with an interesting approach. See, Jacob Felix Heule plays alto on tracks two and three, drums on four and five, and occupies the left channel. Jay Korber plays tenor on tracks three and five, drums on two and four, and occupies the right channel. And nobody plays anything on intro track "Before the Semantic" which is an accurate sinister/ambient recreation of a given black metal album intro from the classics down to the currents. Which is why if you were listening to this blind, the almost bagpipe-esque squawks that come from Heule's alto on the following "Village of Decomposition" could disorient you in rather severe fashion. But then the drums come pounding in and you remember just what it is you're hearing. Like most of the tracks here "Village" doesn't sound too black metal/grindcore at all, at least not as much as the track on "Sudden Arrhythmic Death" does. What it does sound like is maybe a meeting of Peter Brotzmann's throat and Zach Hill from Hella's limbs. Or, of course the most obvious current comparison, elder statesman Paul Flaherty and young juniper bug Chris Corsano. A flattering comparison to be sure, and the Heule/Korber tandem certainly scrape along the same kinds of notes. There's some downright breatheable zones plotted throughout the track, mostly towards the end as Ettrick proves they aren't all about the invisible oranges (just most of the time). "The Wind Starry Transverse" is an interesting track because it's got all brass and no drums. Jay and Jay absolutely maul their instruments from the inside out, with the kind of white-knuckled exploding-lung/eye/cheek fury brought upon by not only the likes of solo jaunts via Brotzmann, Braxton, Abe and Hawkins but also the raw reed-ruining lambasting of jazz-as-noise thespians Jim Sauter and Don Dietrich. Again - pretty hard to tie a sax duet to metal but I'll be damned if it isn't just as aggressive as anything else from the genre. Maybe at this point you can guess what's going to happen in the follow-up jam "Resound the Other". That's right, all drums and no saxes baby. I wonder what'd happen if I played "Transverse" and "Resound" over top of eachother? World implosion? I think so, so I won't risk it. Anyway to my surprise it doesn't turn out to be a competition over who can play the fastest (although their are some moments that make me think of that "Drum>MachineGun" Relapse compilation) but for the most part the two are improvising off eachother as if they've been doing it for years. Milford Graves/Sunny Morgan style...if they were raised on Les Legions Noires. Concluding track "An Interval Inside" brings it all back full circle for a brief 6-minute sautée of horn/drum destruction, again more coke-riddled Last Exit jazznoize than Burzumic terror but it makes me warm and fuzzy inside to know it was inspired by both.
"Infinite Horned Abomination" is more uneven than "Sudden Arrythmic Death", but that kinda goes without saying since "SAD" was just one track, recorded live. And, to be fair, in my brief email discussion with Jacob, he professed his preference of "SAD" to "IHA" and was quick to remind that "SAD" is the newer release after all. So all that said, this full-length CD-R/demo thingy is still a pretty interesting document and still gives an acute demonstration of the kind of potential and skill Ettrick possess. I hear some rumblings about a vinyl release (reissue?) in the band's future, to which I say...how can I help finance it?


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