Music Reviews

Haldeman, Tim – “Open Water as a Child” – [Woolgathering Records]

carsonstreet   3/21/2023   CD, Jazz

Open Water As a Child, by saxophonist Tim Haldemanwas originally conceived as a one-off concert for the Ann Arbor Jazz Festival. Tim says of the work, “The concert was a love letter to our friends and neighbors in Flint, who’ve been enduring the tragic results of the total failure by those ‘in power’. I needed a way to express my anger and sadness, so I reached out to some friends. The musical arrangements are loose, leaving space for the musicians to improvise. Recently my favorite thing about playing music is to explore how a piece can grow unpredictably into something new. What I wrote was a launching pad for the musicians. I wanted to hear what everyone would do with it.” Minimal, quiet with poetic readings on some tracks. You’ll feel as if you are in a beat cafe.

Noertker’s Moxie – “Pantomime In Billville” – [Edgetone Records]

carsonstreet   3/21/2023   CD, Jazz

In 2001, Bill Noertker formed Noertker’s Moxie as a vehicle for his thematic compositions. Since then he has composed over 150 pieces of music and has released sixteen CDs, including the soundtrack for Curious Worlds: the Art and Imagination of David Beck and the extended suites Sketches of Catalonia; The Blue Rider; The Druidh; and Tricycle. The pieces herein are Noertker’s reflections on his travels, his encounters with art, his penchant for poetry, his love of Catalonia, his sense of wonder at words, his fondness for the tritone, his fascination with film. Sweet – play it.

Galper, Hal – “Ivory Forest Redux” – [Origin Records]

carsonstreet   3/21/2023   CD, Jazz

Pianist Hal Galper and guitarist John Scofield have come together beautifully despite their differences. Scofield’s 1979 quartet release, Rough House featured Galper, along with bassist Stafford James and then young drummer, Adam Nussbaum. In essence, the groundbreaking pianist had found a partner who simply allowed him to be himself. Galper’s 1980 release, Ivory Forest was supposed to be Scofield’s next offering, but he was unable to release it in his name following his signing with a different label. Galper became the de facto leader of the date, an easy adjustment considering that he had composed all four original compositions on the album. Hal Galper along with John Scofield, Wayne Dockery and Adam Nussbaum – hard to beat.

Frankel, Danny w/ Cline, Nels and Goldings, Larry – “The Interplanetary Note/Beat Conference” – [Self-release]

carsonstreet   3/21/2023   CD, Jazz

Danny Frankel says of this album: “I want to talk about my new record, The Interplanetary Note/Beat Conference, with Nels Cline (Nels Cline Singers, Wilco) and Larry Goldings (who’s played with Jack DeJohnette and John Scofield). I started planning the recording a few years back. I was on a tour and spontaneously I’d write an idea in the back of the tour book on the blank pages. I’d write down an image real quick, like, “Let’s pretend we’re driving in a car in Israel in 1967.” (That became “Gypsy Cabster” with theatrical electric sitar, nutty ’60s drumbeat, and Teischord electric keyboard.) On that song I solo for eight bars towards the end, and I tried to capture the phrasing of a drunk poet. My friend Pablo calls this recording a psychedelic organ trio. Money Mark says he likes to clean his house while it’s on! It’s all good.” This is notes on the back of a napkin music. Jazz with some psych, some ambient and some experimental.

Bipolar Explorer – “In The Hours Left Until Dawn” – [Slugg Records]

carsonstreet   3/21/2023   A Library, CD

Bipolar Explorer are an NYC-based experimental dreampop trio featuring SummerSerafin (vocals, spoken word), Michael Serafin-Wells (guitars, vocals, bass, organ, synth,melodica, tape loops, percussion, spoken word) and Sylvia Solanas (backing vocals, spokenword – English/French). The band’s eclectic sound has continued to evolve as they began contributing to the UK’s storied experimental radio project, The Dark Outside. More experimental pieces began appearing on the band’s albums with compositions that folded in field recordings with new instrumentation and tape loops and woven together with their existing ambient, spoken word and shoegaze-y anthems resulted in recordings more thematic, or as the group has taken to calling them “dreamscapes”. In The Hours Left Until Dawn weaves together these strands of experimental, ambient, spoken word, field recordings sprinkled with instrumentation and shoegaze-y compositions.

Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica Quartet – “Where Here Meets There” – [Self Release]

carsonstreet   3/21/2023   CD, Jazz

Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica Quartet led by vibraphonist, percussionist Brian O’ Neil categorizes itself as travelling to a future moment where American music is as exotic as its past. Hence, a persuasive declaration as the band combines Eastern modalities with cool jazz grooves and world music. They also delve into the annals of American popular music by performing three Gershwin compositions and one comp by jazz vibraphonist Cal Tjader amid several group-penned originals.

Atlantics, The – “Flight of the Surf Guitar 21st Anniversary Edition” – [Atlantics Music]

carsonstreet   3/15/2023   A Library, CD

In 1963 The Atlantics were at the forefront of surf music in Australia, with their classic surf instrumental “Bombora” sitting for eight weeks at No. 1 in the Top 40 charts.
In 1999, in response to a growing demand from surf music enthusiasts around the world, The Atlantics – Peter, Jim, Bosco and new member Martin, got together in the studio for the first time in thirty years to recreate that surf pounding sound that made “Bombora” such a classic. The result was Flight of the Surf Guitar. Featuring seventeen tracks, comprising fourteen all new originals, together with brand new recorded versions of three of their most popular songs, “The Crusher”, “Rumble and Run” and of course, “Bombora.”

Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – “Hypnotic Brass Ensemble” – [Honest Jons Records]

aarbor   3/15/2023   CD, Jazz

The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble is an eight-piece, Chicago-based brass ensemble consisting of eight sons of the jazz trumpeter Phil Cohran. Their musical style ranges from hip hop to jazz to funk and rock, including calypso and gypsy music. The brothers were raised in a house where music was a constant element of the household. Phil Cohran’s “Circle of Sound” held rehearsals in the living room and put on live shows in the adjacent loft/theatre called the “Sun Ark”. The brothers were obliged to wake at 6am and play their horns before and after school. As adolescents, they played around Chicago as the Phil Cohran Youth Ensemble. Later they played in the subway and on the street. Here they are joined by such luminaries as Tony Allen [6], Malcolm Catto [1,2,11,12], and Damon Albarn [13]. This is their first full length from 2009. All tracks worthy. AArbor

Endless Floods “II” [Dry Cough Records]

atavist   3/14/2023   12-inch, A Library

French minimalist doom from 2017. (It’s a mere coincidence that I’m getting around to this review on the heels of another atmospheric river, in the midst of a winter of seemingly endless floods.) In this trio the fuzzed out bass and drums do the heavy lifting and the guitar shows up on occasion to glide up over the din. Sonically, there are a lot of cues to the early protoplasma in the dank Pacific Northwest of the late 1990s/early 2000s: the sparse, battered drums, massive bass teetering on the brink of feedback, spare guitar clinging to the baritone register, strained, raw vocals screaming in the background. They thank their friends, family, and Heavy Metal (you’re welcome!), but also like the indie proto-doom of yesterday’s PNW, they don’t fully embrace many of the signature emblems and signals of the genre, retaining screamy, lofi near-punk (post-punk?) aesthetics and general rainy-day malaise. Two massive tracks (24 and 19 minutes) with a delicate two-minute acoustic guitar intermission between them.

Anatomia/Undergang [coll] [Me Saco Un Ojo Records]

atavist   3/14/2023   12-inch, A Library

Heeaaavy. Plodding. Menacing. Doom-laden death. Here are five tracks on a split 12″ from a couple projects well-known to KFJC. Anatomia’s vocals run the range from hissing growl to gargling howl. On the epic first track “Total Darkness” the tempo is akin to funeral doom while the timbre is filthy enough to keep a gangrened foot in the world of death metal. The second track, “Bound to Death”, ratchets up the tempo while the saliva-flinging vocals remain immersed in heavy reverb. Undergang make for good disc mates with plenty of their own phlegm to spit at the world. Pounding, driving, siren guitar ascent. Medium tempo stuff with some faster breaks thrown in. A highlight is when their second track, “Helt til Rotterne”, locks into death machine mode. On its heels, the third track “Taksidermi” makes for a strong closer, dialing in the range of sounds that Undergang have mastered. All Undergang tracks clock in over four minutes and under five.

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