Friday, November 21, 2008

Suite: Bittersweet

Nels Cline/ Wally Shoup/ Greg Campbell

Suite: Bittersweet (2007)

Strange Attractors

There's a good amount of records out there that are of Suite: Bittersweet's brand of modern free-jazz. Most of this brand involves the participation of names like Flaherty, Corsano, Shoup and Cline (and a host of others in this revolving door of worthy improvisers). These are the best of the best of our day, to be sure, but it's strange how these records now have a particular, unique set of expectations attached to them. You could not safely call these improvisations 'ground-breaking', or 'cutting-edge' as they seemed to have evolved into their own sub-genre, their own classification. But saying that does not intend to take anything from the unforeseen landscapes welded in these sessions. Nor do I intend to imply that they are premeditated. What in fact we have is a sort of controlled apocalypse. Like a C.I.A. experiment in which they remove a small town from all contact with the outside world in order to simulate Armageddon. It's real. The hysteria is real. But you can be assured knowing that it will not spread into some sort of John Zorn debacle.

This particular album has gotten quite a bit of playing time recently. I wouldn't rate it any better or any worse then any of it's contemporaries, if such a comparison is even possible. It does score a 100% for genuineness, which is probably the ony requisite we should have on improvised music. This is guitar, sax, drums, from 2007, and it is in print at SAAH. but assuming you'll hear this and immediately go out and buy the full record and the multitude of others of it's kind, I'll be willing to post the B side only to this record temporarily, and by request. Enjoy.

Monday, November 17, 2008


Not to get off-topic, but Summer is the most wretched of the seasons; an egregiously long string of unnecessarily hot days defined by excess, idleness, and reckless hedonism. A time in which everything of importance seems to dilute - 0ur convictions, our focus, our passions. It takes a disparate and cruel drop in temperature to remind us that our primary function is still simply to survive in an unforgiving planet. And that some things need to be explored before we're gone. Back to work.
By virtue of a welcome but inexplicable surge in email requests here are some re-ups:

The Music Improvisation Company
Instant Composers Pool 006
Guitar Solos 2
The Made-Ups

The Futurist

Shellac of North America
The Futurist (1997)
Chicago, IL

Ah, yes, the not so super secret Shellac album. I'm not going to go into what this record was, you can google all that. But I will tell you that it is my favorite Shellac work. All the expert minimalism and math, none of the doo-doo and feces talk.

I know posting a Shellac record may be breaching the sort of obscurity standard we've established here at M&N, but I just happened to have upped it for a friend last night and thought, some young kid out there in the vast reaches of our universe hasn't heard Shellac yet. And here it will be a bright morning for some new student of the non-song.


Thursday, July 31, 2008


Well obviously it's been a while since the last post and I could blame that on a number of things, any of which would seem terribly irrelevant. So I will spare you the excuses and instead implore what few of you there are left to grab this CD.

Six weeks ago the "Prison City", IL band Big'N got together for their drummer's birthday in an effort to demonstrate how vulnerable the skull actually is to fierce emissions of noise. Their shows are rare and celebrated events , so I was quick to seize the night.

I'm fairly certain such a night is a primarily regional delicacy at best, so for all those unfortunate and innocently out-of-the-know, here is a site link, and a buy link. You should know, though, that after listening you'll prob be like, "woah man, like where'd my balls go? This music totally just ripped them off."



Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Music Improvisation Company

The Music Improvisation Co.

Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, Hugh Davies, Jamie Muir, Christene Jeffrey

ECM Records

If you're like me than the Gorge Trio's Madeups really left a hole in your brain when you first heard it. Mostly due to the amount of restraint the Trio showed. For Noise, or Free-Noise this is a quality that is largely overlooked. The players will typically opt instead to compact as many layers of sound possible into each recorded second. The Madeups was patient, poised, minimalist, somethings I thought to be quite revolutionary.

So imagine my surprise when I found they've been doing it since the seventies.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Gorge Trio

The Madeups (2002)



The paradox of free-music is that you can never achieve a wholly free improvisation. Your ideas have to come from somewhere and that somewhere is a cesspool of idioms and cliche. So naturally what you try to do is something which I call multiple fragmented perspective amalgamation. Imagine a portrait of a man's face, painted from all sides, all combined into one image. Space does not allow you to have all perspectives represented equally so thus each perspective compromises itself and becomes fragmented. The result is something nearly unrecognizable, it is a mural of familiar images cut into such tiny pieces and rearranged so that it becomes nearly totally unfamiliar. And nearly totally unfamiliar is the best free-music can aspire to as well. But it also represents reality much better than anything we're used too.

I recently read a quote defining good art as "that which reflects the viewers perspective most accurately back at him." Now take that same man, and make a painfully thorough documentary on his character. Make sure you interview everyone, and leave out the boring crap that everyone feels they have to say. The result is a mural of details ranging from his deepest, darkest secrets, to pure, unsubstantiated rumor, perhaps a man nearly totally unrecognizable to his own family. That's what you really see, isn't it? Things are actually phantoms of what they're supposed to be. Even those trusted, sacred things. You see, Rhythm and Melody are lies, trying to smuggle into your brain a poisonous, false world of trite, cookie-cutter lyrical and musical cliches.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The F and The C

Austin, TX

This here is a three-piece of guitar/bass/drums from Austin, that plays a self-described brand of noise/freerock/absurdist improvisations that might seem obviously comparable to the rattle of disassembled engine parts, individually mutilated and then pieced back together. But it actually sounds nothing like that at all. But I won't blame you for thinking that because it's terribly easy to overthink these things.
Case in point: When you're hearing these individually mutilated parts, you can't help but ache to know which parts were mutilated artfully, and which parts recklessly, right? And you can't help but ache to know what's the difference between the two. I mean, certainly you can bang on your instrument for an hour and call it a 'noise/freerock/absurdist improvisation', right? What's so hard about that? But is that all that they are doing? Are you sure? Then why do people like me eat this shit up? Maybe you're missing something. Maybe you should listen again.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Blue Humans

Blue Humans
Clear to Higher Time (1993)
New Alliance Records

This past week I decided to tie up a few loose ends in my Alan Licht collection, finally finding, among other things, that The Evan Dando of Noise? release from '97, which I just find too funny not to mention here. Anyway, his solo works are all very interesting and I'd recommend them in particular if it were not for his part in this beautiful studio racket from '93.

The recording is two guitars panned hard to the left and right channels respectively. The drums are centered, maybe a bit back in the mix. Someone once described this to me as free-noise, and I've always enjoyed that characterization. The drums splatter around very much in the vein of free-jazz, maybe like a belligerent imitation of Rashied Ali, while the guitars seem to be a wild mess, just raging on separate rants, noteless, unrestrained. But I have a suspicion that if one were to travel in time and sit in on this recording, that the level of coordination observed between the players, whether by design, or improvised, would be surprising. Because there is some quality in these noisy rampages that makes it outstanding, one that I can't quite pin down. Something went terribly right for these three in the August of 1991.

I'll throw up a link to a file with the five tracks later tonight or tomorrow, because I'm pretty sure it's out of print, but I'd like to check first.In the mean time here's one track, "Movement" from another blog. Here's the ZIP.
The CD goes for $.01 used, and under two bucks new, so just buy it already.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Febuary Releases

These are a few records released this month that I have not heard yet, but am excited to get my hands on.

L'ocelle Mare is the newest project of avant guitarist Thomas Bonvalet, formerly one half of France's excellent Cheval De Frise. After the tray time Frenetic Record's Fresques Sur les Parois Secrètes du Cråne received, it would be a sin not to pick up Thomas's solo record. But if that alone wasn't enough, the tracks provided on his website point towards a braver, more complex, fascinating direction for the classically trained guitar man. I've had tracks "9" and "2" in my head for weeks now, trying to decode the narratives hidden within them. You have to wonder about the writing process that led to these songs, because they seem to grow naturally, as if improvised, but retain a flawlessness and a precision that suggests design. Very impressive.

CD available at Sickroom Records. Plays Chicago on Mar. 1st in store at Permanent Records.

My Disco also releases their second record this month, and based on the tracks provided here, it seems likely to be even stronger than their first. I'm basing this mostly from the tracks "You Came to Me Like A" and "Paradise" which boast an impressive understanding of restraint and minimalism in structure which I thought was long dead. If the rest of the album meets the standard reached in these two tracks, then we're in the runnings for the best of year. My Disco hail from Australia and it doesn't look like they have any immediate plans to visit Chicago or the States which is too bad for us, and too bad for the dying genre.

The new record, Paradise, is available at Stomp Entertainment.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Derek Bailey

Experimental etc. has more D. Bailey improvisations available for download (I mean, like, all of them). Including the link to this amazing video, and others. The timing of Etc's post is uncannily serendipitous, because I've fallen into a deep and incurable obsession with Mr. Bailey's works over the last few weeks. It's really out of control. I haven't seen the sun in days. My friends stopped trying to call me. I don't know who I am anymore.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Distressed (2006)

Nels Cline, guitar; Zach Hill, drums; Jonathan Hischke, bass, bass synths; Matt Zivich, synths

I bought this early last year but it seems lately I've been giving it a ridiculous amount of playing time. I'm not too familiar with any other Z. Hill projects beside Hella, so I'm not sure if he often ventures outside of his metal comfort zone, but he certainly ought to. This album could certainly be defined as avant garde, and I'm not sure that the genre sees drumming like this very often. Nels is at his best on this record, leading the tangents, with his trademark and refined union of free-jazz and free-noise guitar stylings. And Matt Zivich's intelligent noise-making is particularly impressive with it's display of subtlety and restraint, all the while remaining a powerful presence in the quartet. (Apparently he's Wilco's live sound engineer (?), but he ought to do this type of thing more often as well.) And the bass winds around Nels guitar like a true professional. All the elements are in place, here. It is a refreshingly unique improvisational exhibition, a cut above the sort of improvised-noise recording one might be expecting. Recorded in one day.

Listen to this mp3, "Deathwatch on the American Empire". Or at a myspace.
Buy the record here.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Three by ZU

One of the many terrible things about being obsessed with noise happens when you find a great record by a band you've never heard of before. Instanly you need everything they've done. The thought of that one great record, just collecting dust out there. You vow to find their every release, and wrangle them in like helpless, lost steer. And then the nightmare thickens as one by one the steer turn up rare, expensive, out of print, or worse, Italian. Zu have such a history of rapid-fire releases and collaborations that I imagine are half-improvised and pressed so fast they themselves forgot about them. That's not even a joke, you think Nels Cline remembers all of his collaborations? Bullshit. Because I know that motherfucker, and I know that motherfucker doesn't!

Here are three OOP by Zu I can't find anywhere.

Listen to Zu here. Buy their stuff here.

And I've never met Nels Cline in my life.

Friday, February 1, 2008


Here are two more releases that I've had some trouble finding, which the blogosphere has recently, graciously provided.

Derek Bailey
Aida (1981)

Found here:

This sort of instrumentation knocks you upside the head and proves that the music you have been listening to all your life has been boring and colorless and without dimension. I don't think there will ever be a time where I will say I'm done finding Derek Bailey releases, so I can't necessarily say it's my favorite, but this is the best I've heard yet. There are moments in this record that are super-human. And because Art is social, by listening to it, by proxy, you are traversing the new plane right beside him.


A Short Apnea

Illu Ogod Ellat Rhagedia (Ustrainhustri) -2000

Found here:

Not as mature or self-assured as the Gorge Trio collaboration, or even the excellent Indigo Ballad, Illu Ogod is the A Short Apnea's, wilder, untamed, uncertain adolescence. It is loaded with daring, unexplored ideas which shift gears at random, refusing to be locked down, shoveling new sounds and combinations of sounds one after the other. If this group wrote the book on artistry in noise-making, then this record is chapter one.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Winter '008

The benefit of so many of these consecutive snowed-in and sub-zero nights is that there's not alot to do besides getting really, really acquainted with your record collection. These sorts of musical benders usually induce an unnatural lust for new sounds, an insurgence of mail orders, and misguided, impulsive, frozen trips to the corner record shop. It seems the ear grows more acute this time of year. This winter I've decided the season's frontier I need to tackle should be the blogosphere. I went out and bought one of those gargantuan hard-drives and I plan on scraping the barrel clean of all sorts of nutso, obscure, rare and out of print gems. Some of my favorite finds so far:

ICP Orchestra

Group Composing, ICP006
Recorded in Rotterdam, 15/5/1970

Peter Brotzmann: tenor sax, Paul Rutherford: trombone, Han Bennink: percussion, Misha Mengelberg: piano, Evan Parker: tenor and soprano sax, Peter Bennink: alto sax, bagpipes Derek Bailey: guitar.

I can't say enough about this, but I have a suspicion that the more I write, the less people will read. Nevertheless, this is amazing. I really want to say something regarding the 'deep textures' that are improvised by this all-star line-up, but I fear it will sound cliche. But there is depth or some such quality in this recording that I haven't heard in any other to date. My knowledge of such things is still in it's infancy, but I believe that ICP006 is what we should talk about, when we talk about free-jazz.

Acoustic Guitar Trio

s/t (2001)
Recorded in Los Angeles, CA

Nels Cline, Rod Poole, and Jim Mcauley

Another bout of improvisation, though this one substantially less aggressive. I spent most of my life trying to convince myself that heart trumps skill, but this type of collaboration makes that brand of idealism hard to sell. The players tread delicately, and are remarkably respectful to the agenda, that is to say, no one at no point monopolizes the music. What most interests me in this recording is the unlikeliness of the partnered guitar lines. Unlikeliness is difficult to intend, and it sounds great here. I found this at Audial Forensics.

Moreland Audio
Turbogold (2003)
54-40 or Fight Records
Atl., GA
Well, not this album specifically, but the motherload of Moreland Audio live sets has been made available here. If nothing else, download one set. I assure you that you've not heard composition like this before. Two parts guitar, one part drums. For me, these are the tracks that launched an entire collection, I've spent good dollar after bad trying to find music like this, and at some point just gave up and went onto noise and free-jazz. Salut, Atlanta's finest! Uploads found at Master of None. Buy it proper.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Guitar Solos 2

Bailey Frith Fitzgerald Reichel
Guitar Solos 2 (1976)
Caroline Records

So the first Frith upload got me thinking about the second Frith sider, and it occurred to me, that it's never been officially digitalized, and that moreover, it's out of print. So why not rip it for the two or three people who drop in from time to time? I've made a couple of vinyl rips for personal use, and have been sufficiently pleased, but this being the first of it's kind for M&N, I'm open to technical advice or criticism. This particular record is in grade A condition, but understand, it's also thirty plus years old. Ripped with a Rega P1.

Side one
Water/ Struggle/ The North (Frith) 11:05
Only Reflect (Frith) 4:00
Brixton Winter 1976 (G.F. Fitzgerald) 9:40

Side two
Avantlore (Reichel) 3:05
Vain Yookts (Reichel) 3:00
Donnerkuhle (Reichel) 5:05
Virginal (Bailey) 6:20
Praxis (Bailey) 4:00
The Lost Chord (Bailey) 1:50

Monday, January 14, 2008

Laddio Bolocko

Laddio Bolocko
The Life and Times of Laddio Bolocko (2002)
No Quarter Records
New York, NY

This is the entire discography of one of the premier noise rock groups of all time. It compiles their three releases from 97, 98 and 2000. The flagship of the Bolocko Armada is undoubtedly the 97 debut, Strange Warmings of, which features six blistering, hypnotic tracks of guitar/bass/drums/sax, among them the profound and mind-splitting opener, 'Goat Lips', which has within it, that stuff of gods, that rarely found, life-changing, metamorphosizing stuff. But you're nuts if you think I'm going to upload it here, because that would be too easy for you. This is serious, man. We're trying to build something here; a transcendental state. And that takes hard work. Only Discipline creates Excellence. Go find it.

In the meantime:

This video came from here.
No Quarter seems to have sold out.
Try Amazon. Music Stack. Ebay.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


I meant to put this up before the new year, but didn't get around to it-
Tracks from this blog's 2007 picks.

1. 'B is for Burning' - Zs (Arms)
2. '37501' - 37500 Yens (Astero)
3. 'I Hate Clowns' - Black Engine (Klu Klux Klowns)
4. 'Tax Reduction' - The Conformists (Three Hundred)
5. 'James Spader' - Sleeping People (Growing)
6. 'Bump' - Zs (Buck)
7. 'Crime Story' - Home of the Wildcats (Sing Puerto Rican Love Songs)
8. 'Sting Ray and the Beginning of Time' - Exploding Star Orchestra (We are All From Somewhere Else)
9. 'Caved-in Heart Blues' - Nels Cline Singers (Draw Breath)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Fred Frith

Fred Frith
Guitar Solos (1974)
London, England
I just uploaded a fraction of this for someone, and thought why not throw it in here. I remember a while back making a resolution to seek out music that sounded as alien or unearthly as I could find it- or rather, music that sounded completely detached from tradition, and lacking the fingerprints of history. This record is one that genuinely sounds like it was written on Mars. It's still music, but it's using no scales you've ever heard of. It's as though the album is trying really hard to speak your language, but the culture barrier is far too wide to effectively communicate. The first few tracks, which I've packaged here, are a perfect example of this beautiful blend of the other-worldly and the familiar. Frith has way too many projects to keep track of, so if you've any favorites, let me know so I can track them down.