Brekekekexkoaxkoax - We Used to be Such Good Friends (Hushroom Recordings CD-R)
Been a long time that I ain't never heard no name as weird as Austin, Texas' Brekekekexkoaxkoax but weird is the name of the game these days innit. I'm not even sure how to pronounce it but I think "Breakfast Coax" is close enough. Brekekekexkoaxkoax define themself as "an open-ended art music collective, focusing on improvisational, indeterminate performances using sound, visuals and movement" which is pretty much how every band I wind up reviewing defines themselves anyway. But it's cool though, Brekekekexkoaxkoax actually have some pretty neat credits to their name: they appeared on the illustrious RRRecords 500 locked grooves compilation where thousands of other bands were turned away and they seem to be studious followers of the Fluxus movement given how often their tracks show up on Fluxus-related tributes and compilations (okay it probably only happened like twice). As I understand it, "We Used to be Such Good Friends" is their debut long player for the sometimes-quartet of headmaster Josh Ronsen and compadres Jacob Green, Glen Nuckolls and Genevieve Walsh. On "Friends" however there are guest appearances from like-minded souls Vanessa Arn (electronics) and Bill Thompson (computer). What's interesting about "Friends" is that the quartet only play together on the first track and again in splintered form on the third - the other two are Josh Ronsen going it solo. I guess at the end of the day, after all, it is still his Brekekekexkoaxkoax.
I may have made a subtle allusion to the notion that Brekekekexkoaxkoax are another run-of-the-mill campfire squatting tambourine-shaking troupe but they're really not, they're like the version of that troupe that actually went to university and majored in things like Computer Graphics & Design or something with the word Vector in the name. Or they're just adept at adopting a slight air of academia. Or that's just me misinterpreting things as usual. Well the amount of instruments used on the half-hour opener "Haifa Hi-Fi" is as staggering as you'd expect: oboe, organ, acoustic and electric guitar, banjo, violin, flute, snare drum, electronics, and more...basically everything with a string from tennis rackets down on to your mother's sewing machine is put to good use, and I may or may not be exaggerating. The resulting jam though is almost surprisingly restrained for the most part, as the four players take the time to actually pay attention to what the other is playing and meditate on it good n' long until they decide to sneak in with their own contribution. I guess the comparison that kept coming to me was an updated take on AMM (kind of ironic since AMM never really went away), or at least re-imagined by a pack of young'uns affected by/afflicted with the post-Altamont world scenario. The 20-minte accompanying jam piece "Tuesday on Sunday" is a lot less jerky and more fluid, approaching the more down-tempo moments of Labradford or Brokeback. The song is held together at its nexus courtesy Ronsen's on-going electric guitar rhythms, not at all unlike Josetxo Grieta's "European Son" interpretation we visited yester's day. By the time the track starts thinking of a conclusion, Green's oboe is already doing quiet battle with Arn and Thompson's gizmodgery and it flows as smoothly as any Milky Way I've come to know. Real long, and patience is most definitely a pre-requisite, but real nice. Ronsen's first solo track "Figure or Failure II" is a four-minute bridge between the two epics and a rather inhumanely tranquil sound sculpture plundered from turntable, voice, electronics and computer. Mostly it comes out like a black ocean rumble, as soothing as it is disconcerting and as E.A.I. as any of that - hard to hear anything other than what I suppose to be the computer in it though. Ronsen's other piece is "For I.D. II", a slothful goliath if there ever was one. It's another twenty minute jaunt but this one's a solo bowed bass performance and a rather exquisite one at that. It begins as light and airy as you can get while playing a bass guitar and slowly but certainly bleeding into more sinister territories until the sound forms around your ears as thick as an on-rushing tornado, maintaining just the right amount of pressure long enough to splinter into rubbery strands of pure dark matter. Sunn O))) by way of Scodanibbio?
Ronsen's solo takes are just as nice and fully-formed as the group tracks, which sound like Rowe, Ambarchi, Muller, Nakamura et al. getting lost on the way to ErstQuake and playing the Terrastock festival instead. "We Used to be Such Good Friends" is no revelation, but the group of musicians working here under the Brekekekexkoaxkoax banner are too talented to not pull off a work of undeniable competency. And the quotes on and about improvising music in the booklet are at least a helpful indicator that these folks aren't slobs either.