Pekos/Yoro Diallo - Pekos/Yoro Diallo (Yaala Yaala CD)

All right. Looks like another label has cropped up in recent days to help Alan Bishop shoulder the burden of robbing the brown man blind! Ahahaha just kidding. Really though, I'm not going to touch that little moral dilemma with a yardstick, primarily because I'm far too apathetic to actually form a "stance" on it. I'll assume that neither Pekos nor Yoro Diallo are getting any cash back on this disc, but then in the same light I'll also assume that Jack Carneal and his Yaala Yaala cohorts aren't reaping much of a profit either. Let's just say it's all about the music and remain happier, for that. This is the first release on the label, with a name derived from what Bougounian musicians would reply to the question "ça va?" (according to Carneal, it means "just wandering"). Indeed, this first release was culled from a market in Bougouni where Carneal resides, and the other two are equally Mali-centric: a compilation of anonymous artists ("Bougouni Yaalali") and a disc from Daouda Dembele (who, like Yoro Diallo, I first discovered via the awesome Awesome Tapes from Africa blog.
Only a brief descripto is included with the album, and none of it talks about who Pekos or Yoro Diallo are. All it sez is that Carneal picked this tape up from a vendor in Kolondieba, an electricityless village two hours from Bougouni, and that it was "probably recorded on a boombox sometime in 1998 or '99". Which is good because everybody knows that the new Pekos is just wanky prog bullshit in lieu of actual songwriting. That was a joke. Anyway looks like Carneal himself doesn't even know if any of the above is true, adding that Bougounians are generally skeptical of verification. No idea what the hell that means but he's the guy who's been living in Mali the past eight years, not me, so I'll take his word for it. Anyway it's a collaboration (not a split) between the two, each man contributing vocals and playing electrified ngonis, which are explained thusly: "ngonis are large spike lutes; a four to five foot length of wood or reed is jammed into a hollowed out gourd and strings, often fishing line, are connected from a bridge at the base of the instrument to the end of the neck." There's also a continuous stream of percussion on the four tracks here, provided by someone (or someones) other than the two featured players. The duo sermonize across surely much more than the hour-long chunk provided here, but the four tracks that made up the cassette (and make up this CD) are more than enough meat to chew on till their next outing is stumbled upon and haggled over. The first track clocks in at an all-too-brief 14 minutes, and is remarkably effective in its simplicity: sloppy percussion strikes and a pulsing ngoni crackle (something of a cross between Konono No. 1's thumb pianos and an electric guitar, to my decidedly untrained ears) and form an amazing, almost bluesy lope. It's the kind of irresistably catchy rhythm that would be fine enough on its own, but the singing exchanges between Pekos (the raspier, somewhat calmer voice) and Diallo (the booming, commanding voice that often cuts off Pekos') really lift the track into a whole new place of untold glories. Diallo in particular hits on a constant melody every time he opens his mouth and it just has to be heard to be appreciated. No idea what these two are singing about, but the info I found suggests the two are probably being egged on via small monetary donations "to sing about how great Coulibaly is, Sidibe is, what a strong man Traore is, etc." Not sure I really care to find out what's being said though, you gotta be the Tin Man to not feel this. The second track is shorter and a bit of a down in terms of energy, with plodding percussio and one endlessly scraped ngoni. The other, however, offers up some interesting free improv scramble, usually at the most unexpected moments. Diallo and Pekos sound almost like they're riffing back and forth when they sing, lending an even more slothful air to an already sluggish, sun-scorched affair. Track three is very similar to the first, with a languid, gently galloping percussion/ngoni rhythm (given an odd, almost banjo-like flair here) periodically torn up by an almost call-and-response interplay between the two men. Diallo again is almost alamringly fierce with the way his voice cuts in from seemingly out of nowhere only to disappear just as fast. The latter portions of the track feature some of the wildest ngoni flurries yet, much to the delight of the small but appreciative crowd. The last cut is a massive 20-minute slab, as slow and as quiet as anything yet but also as fucked - dig the enormous feedback riptides that pour through and hiss in the background. This track sees Diallo take a step back and leave the lion's share of the speaking/singing to Pekos (who also seems to banter a bit with the crowd). Perhaps then it's Diallo who's responsible for the lovely flourishes from the makeshift instrument he wields, easily some of the most fully-formed and cleanly executed strokes of the whole set (reminding slightly of Tetuzi Akiyama's boogie work for electric guitar). A couple sections see the song turned over to various scrawls of the instrument, both solo and in duet, while others see still more furious shouting as the tune crawls its way almost subliminally to an ecstatic climax that's cut just short before any true catharsis can be heard...but that isn't to say there aren't revelations found all over the rest of the disc. It is worth noting however that the sound quality is far from pristine (which is definitely a good thing) - a couple of sound dropouts here and there due to the original cassette and just a general lo-fi, dirty sound won't please the tympanic membrane of stuffy musicologist types, but I don't think you fit that bill anyhows.
My lack of applicable knowledge of West African music betrays me from being able to draw any valuable comparisons but it sounds great to my ears and that's the only litmus test worth a hoot, to me. Needless to say if you've enjoyed what's been exported recently from the likes of Sublime Frequencies and the Crammed Discs label, you owe it to yourself to check out this one. I know as soon as I get a chance I'm picking up the other two jammers from Yaala Yaala, and eagerly looking forward to whatever else they're bringing over from the Malian markets. And how about that cover?

Click here to listen to MP3 samples from the above album


Heavy Literature

A whole whack of brain-peeling lit has made its way/is making its way to my offices as of late and no, this isn't a review of any of them, just a general heads up because you should pick em up to pass the time on the days when I'm absent. To the left needs no introduction, the new tome from Julian Cope what should probably be mandatory reading in public schools if the few PDF pages I leafed through in Krautrocksampler were any indication (is someone gonna reprint that thing or what?). It's a beautiful hardcover edition (and not too too pricey either for a U.K. print) with a nice section of color photogs of album covers from Rallizes to Flower Travellin' Band to Creation to J.A. Ceasar and more. Scratch here.
You'll notice on the Amazon page above you can buy Japrocksampler in tandem with The Source, a prized document from Ya Ho Wa/Father Yod acolyte Isis Aquarian that should hopefully shed some light on one of the more mysterious whatevers to take place in the Americana underbelly. In case you needed any more incentive (look at that bombastic cover!) it comes with a CD of rare and unheard Yod material including a 1973 performance at a high school??? Shit's in session all right.
Last is a fairly recent biog. on the infamous Viennese actionist-cum-diety (loose pun intended) Hermann Nitsch which I really don't know a thing about since it hasn't arrived and, regardless, I'm still making it through the Writings of the Vienna Actionists collection (that one covers the Big Four: Nitsch, Brus, Muehl, Schwarzkogler). Anything those guys get/got up to is of interest to me, so how can this one possibly go wrong? Get re(a)d.


James Blackshaw - The Cloud of Unknowing (Tompkins Square LP)

I always liked James Blackshaw but this is the first release of his I've actually owned, I think. Such is the crux of the internet and not having enough wealth to spread it into all the corners I may so desire. Well ain't that a B. But, through the use of our friend the MP3, I've been keeping tabs on James, from the lovely "Celeste" to the slightly off-kilter but equally enjoyable "O True Believers", but only now did I spring into action and snap up a copy of his latest "The Cloud of Unknowing" because it's the record I always felt he had in him (really!) and it absolutely destroys me every time I play it, which is a lot these days. I probably need to run the spiel by you again as much as you need to hear it again, but James is one of those post-Fahey/Basho/Kottke/Bull acolytes that roam the hillsides sniffing fresh dew, acoustico in hand (a 12-string on this voyage). In addition to setting himself apart from that ilk (while simultaneously wearing its influence on his sleeve), I never thought Blackshaw really fit in with the aforementioned new(er) breed - Jack Rose, Glenn Jones, Rick Bishop, Ben Chasny, you know the names. All those guys have a rough edge to their playing. Not to a fault, mind you. But Blackshaw's playing is almost a pure, distilled take on Takoma (and India), imbued with an almost continuous stream of hopeful dissonance. In fact if you want to make a case for a criticism of "Cloud", you might say that it's excessively, what's a word, flowery? To the point of new age-y-ness? At some points? But alas. Talking about criticisms before I even get started, where are my manners.
The two main reasons to own this record are stuck at the beginning of side one and the end of side two - the 11-minute title track and the 15-minute "Stained Glass Windows", respectively. "Cloud" splays out a couple of formalities before slipping into a most sublime and encompassing refined/Primitive raga, with each of Blackshaw's rapidly shifting finger flicks spinning a cocoon-like web through the speakers, with precious care taken to wrap the listener up without even a moment of angularity in which one might awaken, startled, from their gossamer slumber. "Windows" is perhaps even more hypnotizing, focusing on constant repetition with Blackshaw working a dense layer of background notes that act like a La Monte Young backdrop to the runs his other hand is making. In between these two monumental slabs lie three shorter pieces. "Running to the Ghost" evokes the spirit of Van Dyke Parks with a steady ebb of crescendoing/receding notes joined by Fran Bury's violin and effusive chimes that, coming right after "Cloud", make the case for this one being just a bit too sweet on the teeth. On the other hand, "The Mirror Speaks" begins with a muddy torrent of string work that sounds downright aggressive, and while Blackshaw eases up the rest of the way, the song remains weighted with a sense of terse urgency. The same might be said for the cymbala-centric groan of "Clouds Collapse" which splits the record in two - as the only track without a hint of 12-string flourish on it, and with a dull noisy grind and swirling dark matter off in its horizon, it only hints at the fangs Blackshaw bares fully on the last five minues of the record. As the strains of "Stained Glass Window" fade out, they're replaced with an ominous lurch and fervent string scream by Bury's violin, kinda sounding like Eyvind Kang on the wrong side of the bed or a C. Spencer Yeh/Francisco Lopez hook up. Even Blackshaw's attempts at ugliness aren't enough to put a damper on the spirits in lifts on almost every other minute of its existence. And if you're willing and don't got a fully jaded/pessimistic soul, "Cloud of Unknowing" will let you scale some seriously heaven-scraping heights. Totally, truly, wildly, absolutely and highly recommended.
And speaking of killing it, this is another jewel in the Tompkins Square tiara, which has quietly but steadily built up an impressive little roster. The "Imaginational Anthem" compilations, the great Peter Walker tribute/celebration, Robbie Basho "Venus in Cancer" reissue, and a record each by Spencer Moore and Harry Taussig that I've yet to hear but ought to provide me with some real and much-needed education. Chapeau, sirs.

Click here to listen to MP3 samples from the above album


Night Wounds - Allergic to Heat (Woodsist LP)

Here's an LP I'm so late on I think it's gone plum out of print...but the CD version was put out at least fairly recently on Corleone so at least it's still kinda topical. You probably know by now so I'll just swing through the formalities - Night Wounds is an L.A. based unit who were the trio of Patrick, Ryan and Toby when "Allergic to Heat" was laid down but they could've expanded/contracted since then, I ain't knowing. They're also pretty busy, with a one-sided 12" also due on Corleano in addition to splits in varying formats with like-minded neophytes Soft Shoulder and Knitwitch, 10lec6, AIDS Wolf, Twin Crystals and Shearing Pinx. So plenty of other chances to catch em on wax if you missed this one indeed.
I will preface anything about to say with this - I don't really feel a lot of this new new noise rock clutter that's typically spawned from California or Providence or Montreal or anywhere for that matter (well Russia and possibly Zimbabwe aside). So I was predisposed to be indifferent (or hostile) to Night Wounds before I even played them. Now I won't say they flipped me on my head, but there are great moves all over this record, even enough for a miser like myself to feel rattling his bowels...if not to step out onto the dance floor just yet. Dig opener "Allergic to Heat", introduced by a clarion sax call and a steelwork stomp that digs into my shins and elevates my cullions in a way I've not yet known. There's only one line out of all the sneering vocals I can actually make out and it's "I wish I knew" and every time it rolls around it's just like fuckin' yeah, you know? I get the same feeling whenever "Ex Best Friend" crumples into mega-distorted Naked City type flip outs before whipping back into considerably fucked post-punk slobber, then grinding to a near-halt (must be all those DJ Screw influences I hear about) and ripping out a supremely styrafoam sax chomp from way deep inside the group's own intestines. Less thrilling to me is the rather straight-forward, anthemic "Nineteen" with its repeated chorale of "nineteen/act your age" and the angular, grinding riffage of "Caving In". Both to me seem lesser than what the group is capable of, but it's no raw deal since the LP closes off with three excellent numbers. "Hex Appeal" and "Damage" are both rampant bloodfeasts driven by drumming that thuds and resonates like a well-oiled/programmed machine, but no robot could handle the limbic workout doled out by the former, augmented by zoned out horn shrieks. The militant drumroll march of "Damage" keeps things pretty rigid throughout, allowing only for a shaking guitar scrawl unsolo to pull it through to the homestretch. And it's quite a stretch. At 8 minutes, "X.O.T." represents almost a third of the album's running time (a perfectly succint 28 minutes), and it brings together just about every one of Night Wounds' disparate influences to showcase them under one roof. Starting out with another sax solo amidst a rubble of scorched guitar noise and sloshed drums (not at all unlike a pared down version of those Borbetomagus and Voice Crack tete-a-tetes), the track slowly grinds into a skewed noise/funk rhythm, intermittently exploding with spurts of free improv/fire music wailings and dark, almost sludge metal menace. I'm wheezing over here.
Listening to Night Wounds, one can glean a whole lotta influences packed into their sweet n' sassy approach - This Heat, Faust, Black Flag, Dead C., D.N.A., Mr. Bungle circa "Disco Volante", the Residents, Iggy and the Stooges, Fugazi, Big Black, Liquorball, Butthole Surfers...you could go for days. The trick (and what makes em so likeable) is that they never sound exactly like any one of em, instead melding all parts together in a sweaty gob of gunk that makes for a pretty sweet ride, even if there are a few bumps along the way. You might say it should be no other way. If this doesn't sound like your bag, give it a shot anyway. I was a non-believer and came away quite impressed. If it does sound like your bag and you haven't heard it yet, you'll be in dirty, stinky heaven.

Click here to listen to MP3 samples from the above album


Various Artists - Power/Field / Kilt - Snow White in Hell / Redglaer - Aneleutheromania (Anarchymoon 2xCD-R/LP/CS)

Grab bag of fairly new Anarchymoon trans-missives on mixed format...in case you need help decoding, the compilation is the 2xCD-R, the Kilt is the LP and label proprietor Redglaer aka Bob Bellerue lays claim to the tape. Anyway you probably remember Anarchy Moon (or "anokmoon") from the bang-up job they did with that Dead Machines/John Wiese/Damion Romero set not too long ago, and ideally even the Roman Torment/Feed the Dragon 12" splt and the Redglaer 10" because those were worth a look too. Bob's back in a big way with these three and more, a Smegma LP compiling disparate 7" tracks (!) and a five-way split 7" with Raven Chacon, Redglaer, Alchemical Burn, AGL, and Mark Beyer. For now though, let's focus on eating what's on our plate, starting with the compilation.
According to the bit of info included on the "Power/Field" xerox, all 23 tracks across these two discs were "performed and recorded live on-site somewhere, outside of the studio and the stage", hence the title in large part I do imagine. The first disc is a pretty even split between power and field, with certain artists devoting themselves to the former (most of these found towards the front of the disc, it seems) and others to the latter. I have to say I'm more a fan of the field recordings - \\\'s "Vive Le Rock" sounds great for what could be a bunch of rocks (geddit?) bouncing around inside an aluminium bowl like metal kernels popping, while William C. Harrington's "LAX 9/17/06" and Christopher Fleeger's "Sea Gulls at Lake Ella" sound exactly like what the titles say they are, and all the better for it. The sinister gnaw of Chronicles of Lemur Mutation's "Cattle Gate" and David Kwan's "Howl" find their power in understated recordings from out in the backwoods of the planet and are a perfect oasis peppered between noisier jaunts like Phroq's static/glitch "Glass Building II" and No John's all-out noise attack "Nieuwpoort 2006". If the previous tracks hinted at some kind of "noise" inflection, he's the first to say what we were all thinking, and it marks a definite seachange for the rest of the disc. Jeff Gburk roars out of the gate with a sinus-blowing drone that whittles its way down to nervous static through distorted radio frequencies within its 8 minute running time and Infiltration Lab goes the opposite direction, starting from nothing and working up an impressive boiler room lurking pitch that'll take your fingernails clean off. From there though, the tracks get slightly faceless - tracks by Oubliette, David Kendall, sheaMgauer and Gen 26 all focus on electronically-generated rackets and drones with a low degree of memorability about them. Only Stephen Cornford's simple yet elegant "Air Con Quartet" (which I doubt is really what it claims to be but who the hell knows) sticks in the grey matter with its dull, wavering hums, but then again it does have almost ten minutes to get its point across.
The rest of the lengthy pieces are given over to the second disc, and there are six to speak of - one each from IDX1274, Dave Phillips, Ecomorti, Burial Hex, Nova-sak and Bellerue's Redglaer, all at least 11 minutes in length. Similar to disc one, these tracks waver in between the "field" and the "power" but you really wouldn't know it judging from IDX1274's hulking opener "Field of Waist High Grass (II)" which doesn't really sound like a field of waist high grass at all unless it has come to life and is attempting to swallow you whole. IDX1274's M.O. is that he doesn't use any keyboards or samplers and everything you hear is hand-manipulated from original ("clean") sources. Hard to pick out anything clean from this slobbering mess, but that's really more a compliment to IDX's knack for obfuscation. And it certainly sounds cut up and re-stitched too, but I think he's telling the truth. I think I'm more a fan of the methods than the results, but that's just me being a pussy more than anything. Nova-sak's "Field Power" (hm) is of a similar vein, this one sounding altogether more spacey and with some dropped-out moments but still noise-rooted and birthed from decidedly non-nature-al equipment. Burial Hex's "Reaping the Keep (Outsider Version)" has me on the fence, like a ten-minute slice of greyish blur spitfires, storm activity, darkened skies over vast farmlands, and shoot it even starts with a cowbell...I'd probably enjoyed a more slimmed down version of all this electrolysis, this one just seems to ramble. Ecomorti's "amaz on p inkele PHANT s eal for the Xtinct" uses the sounds of two endangered species' (I'll let you piece together which) in an off-kilter hum that's still more of the field, but doesn't quite sustain itself over its alotted running time. Curious I should say that because Dave Phillips' fantastically titled "Most Adults Are Atrophied Children Whose Fire Has Long Since Been Extinguished" (a phrase lifted from William Bennett's blog, sez Google) almost befalls the same fate but has a certain je ne sais quoi going for it that just sweeps me up in its ghost limbs like a princess. What it is, is an absolute slow burner of married high-pitched whine and pond sounds; ducks, loons, crickets, the like. Its only build up is the last two minutes when the drone fades out entirely, with the soothing sounds of waterfall and a duck to take it home. Beautiful! And it's as close to new age as you're ever gonna get from the Schimpfluch group so just take it. Redglaer closes off the proceedings with an awesome pieces that combines the best of both worlds, taking a full six minutes to slowly start to churn and transform into a static-speckled acid-burned noise jam with just thee most glorious oscillations that, at this point, sound more like heaven than anything Yod himself plunked onto the globe. Guess when it's your compilation, you gotta step up your game? Challenge met!
Sequencing questions on disc one and general - let's face it, inevitable - inconsistencies aside (and that's just my own personal take, maybe you'll dig how it is just fine), this one was definitely worth the two years of work that went into it. Painfully limited to 200 copies and housed in one of those sexy cardboard tuck-in sleeves, it's too bad more people won't get to enjoy it. But as of today there's still hope for Y-O-U.

Bellerue's also got a stake in this one, the debut full-length from his Kilt project what also features Raven Chacon and Sandor Finta. When I first got it and had no idea what it was, I confess to hoping it was a Scottish noise (or, going by the cover alone, black metal) band making a play on using the word "killed" as a band name, but some things aren't meant to be. I'll settle for what I got, and what I got ain't so bad either. "Snow White in Hell" is two long sides of noise demolish that purports to have actual track times and seperations but I'll be fucked if I can hear any of it, it's pretty tough to distinguish from all the general wreckage taking place. Sounds like all three have their hands in pretty deep here with overloaded circuits, junk pedals pushed to extremes, gibbering Porky Pig metallic stammers, and heavy abuse of what can only be described as a cross between a dentist's drill and a world-razing gamma laser (Light of Judgement?)...these cats are rough and raw and bringing it back to how you remember the good times circa early 90's Japanoise filth a la Incapicants or Hijokaidan. It's good to be reminded every now and then that blasts as harsh as this are still rippling through the strata. Because yes sometimes I do need to be reminded. If you do too, then get Kilt. Ahahaha, moving on.

A bit of full disclosure before I get into this one(-sider): I'm predisposed to like any tape with "fuck the government and the people" stamped on the inside because well I'm a sucker like that. "Aneleutheromania" brings together a selection of live Redglaer performances in a rather brutish cover wrap, and hits all the aforementioned aspects of Bob Bellerue's noise fetishism. It veers bodaciously from tinnitus-inciting sine scrawls to guttural noise sludge and a full spectrum of oscillations in between conjuring up feelings of radio transmissions, field recordings, 80's industrialism, concrete, and more. At the "lighter" moments it sounds like a Wolf Eyes/American Tapes thing and current Whitehouse by way of Africa in the darker spots. The odd vocalized grumblings and/or shouts, generally deformed by all the electronic gnarl they'll battling through, are just the sweet touch needed to push this one from sassy to salacious...but it's got bite, believe you me. Only complain is that it's a touch long for my tastes, but so's everything else in the world so I can't fault Bob for that one. Definitely a cool smattering, but I'd recommend the "American Masonry" 10" before this one, if it's still available.


Jean-Louis Huhta - Halfway Between the World and Death / Boots Brown - Boots Brown (Slottet CDs)

Here's two of the newer releases from the upstart Swedish label Slottet, focusing on the current wave of Swedish form destroyers with records by Santa Maria (aka Maria Eriksson), Strountes (featuring Maria Eriksson) and DrapEnHund, a duo of 13-year old girls playing "slow Swedish punk rock for the future", one of whom happens to be Mats Gustafsson's daughter Alva Melin. If you don't recognize Jean-Louis Huhta or Boots Brown at a glance, well don't feel bad, because you probably do know em, in one way or another. Huhta's been around the block since the 80's, playing first in bands like post-punk Cortex and the amazing grindcore pioneers Anti Cimex, then in industrial/noise/techno informed outfits Texas Instruments, Lucky People Center and the Stonefunkers, and now onto other mutant forms of electronically inclined music with Audio Laboratory, the Skull Defekts, Brommage Dub and Ocsid. Among others, surely (Kozmic Niggah, DJ Louis, Dr. Nobody, 413...). Weird to fathom that with all this energy spent on music over the past 25ish years, "Halfway Between the World and Death" is in fact his first ever solo outing. The lineage behind Boots Brown is probably even moreso complicated, but I'm not gonna attempt to lay it all out for you. It's a quartet of Swedish improvisers, namely the aforementioned Gustafsson, Johan Berthling, Magnus Broo and David Stackenas, who I'm sure have all played together in various configurations before, but seem to be coming together under the Boots Brown moniker for the first time here. The name appears to be swiped from Boots Brown and His Blockbusters of the 1950's, apparently responsible for a tune called "Cerveza" what made it big in '58, but I can't say I've heard it. They may have also played with Little Richard but don't quote me on that.
While "Halfway Between the World and Death" is Huhta's first solo release, it could almost be listened to as a current-day retrospective looking back and reinterpreting the sounds that shaped his, er, career up to this point. Using mostly his laptop (and a little bit of guitar), Huhta embraces a multitude of styles across the 16 tracks present here, switching from polar opposites from song to song. On tracks like "Exit", "Running Boy", "Suddenly There is a Change" and "Straight to You", Huhta uses haunted, glitchy tones to offset his straight-forward guitar loops, which range from folky to soulful to psychedelic, sometimes within the same song ("Running Boy", which also features Huhta's processed voice strands, is a good example). Elsewhere, Huhta hits on eerie industrial-infected loops and noise strands ("Furniture to Sit On Kitchens to Cook in Cars to Drive", "Watching the Swells", "Marja-Lisa), and glacial Eno ambience and melting beat structures ("Assume Formlessness", "For Conny" and the astonishing crawl heard on the title track, featuring Johan Zetterquist on acoustic guitar). Huhta's funk/disco tendencies are even given time to shine on the epic closer "Truth is in the Sound", an almost aggressive dance-like deconstruction of a sinewy beat with screaming, searchlight sound effects...easily one of the best of the bunch. And there's a lot of bunch here. In fact you might say that at 76 minutes, "Halfway" wears out its welcome just a tad, but fuck that, only solo LP in however many years of service? You're hearing this one on Jean-Louis' terms, pal.

This Boots Brown ensemble is quite a different beast from the one I last heard Mats Gustafsson in, Two Bands and a Legend (well, the Thing, actually). Whereas the Thing is over-the-top garage jazz slobber, Boots Brown is just about the exact opposite - retrained, low-key, hushed, and tightly-wound. It's a testament to Gustafsson's versatility as a saxophonist (alto, tenor and slide here, not to mention electronics too) that he's able to excel equally in both settings. And he does excel - check out his lush, longform tones blown on "Mid Calf", the empty ones heard on "Gaucho Volcano" and the tire screech of "Black Industrial Greasy" - his fellow collaborators shine in equal measure. David Stackenas stands out remarkably on all tracks, his acoustic guitar spackling the landscapes of "Teak Industrial Trailblazer" and "Black Industrial Grizzly" (a shorter companion piece to "Greasy") with helter skelter chords fondly reminiscent of Derek Bailey's, and his "low budget electronics" (according to the inlay) grinding away in the background of "Gaucho Volcano" and "Mid Calf". I believe it's Gustafsson responsible for the endless gentle rattling and creaking sounds throughout "Teak Industrial" as Stackenas squares off with Magnus Broo's formidable trumpet punches and Johan Berthling lopes alongside on double bass. The two 10-minute-plus tracks, "Gaucho Volcano" (featuring Thomas Hallonsten on stomach-knotting organ warble) and "Black Industrial Greasy", make for the finest listens as the quartet take all the time necessary to deliver each note with remarkable, resounding precision making indeed the highs high and the lows low. This kind of miniscule jazz ("ultra modern chamber jazz?" asks the label) makes for a perfect antidote to the scads of heavy blowing sessions in practice across the globe today. Boots Brown remind me a lot of the criminally underrated French jazz group Hubbub, who ply their trade playing as loudly as quietly as possible. If that makes any sense to you (and it should), don't miss out on this.
Slottet also has a few new releases on the horizon that might be of interest. Boots Brown bassist Johan Berthling has his hands in a couple - "pop impressionists" Idiot Kid and a meeting between Swedish jazz trio Gul3 and Japan's Tetuzi Akiyama. Others include a duo CD between Mats Gustafsson and Christian Marclay, and a full-length from Richard Tomlinson aka Voice of the 7 Woods. Heavy times.

Click here to listen to MP3 samples from the above album