Volcanic Tongue Catalogue

Joe McPhee & Paal Nilssen-Love
Tomorrow Came Today

Smalltown Superjazz STSJ-148

CD
£12.99


Fantastic duo CD from original fire music saxophonist Joe McPhee and tireless European drummer Paal Nilssen-Love. Recorded in the studio in 2007, McPhee plays tenor sax and pocket trumpet while Nilssen-Love plays drums. McPhee is on staggering form, blowing beautiful Coltrane/Wright-inflected rundowns, sighing through melancholy blues dirges and tearing it up with a ferocious, muscular style. A fantastic release.

Trio X
Live In Vilnius

NoBusiness Records NBLP-2/3

2xLP
£26.99


Alongside David S Ware’s quartet and Charles Gayle’s Parker/Ali trio, Joe McPhee’s Trio X are one of the great contemporary small groups in free jazz. This beautifully presented set – with both discs cut to play at 45rpm for maximum fidelity – documents McPhee, bassist Dominic Duval and drummer Jay Rosen at an intuitive peak, recorded live in Vilnius in 2006. The set is divided between originals, inspired re-settings (“My Funny Valentine” into Edwin Star’s “War”) and readings of material by Ornette Coleman (an exquisite “Lonely Woman”, “Law Years”), Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk and Dvorak (a starkly beautiful reading of the first movement from Symphony #9 that connects Ayler-ised jazz to European folk/orchestral traditions). McPhee’s playing is gorgeous, with bold, fluid lines bisecting Duval’s uncanny, vocalized bass work and Rosen’s precise feel for time and space. This is a great free jazz record, one with a huge umbilical to the post-Coltrane tradition but with two fists pointing towards the future. Another excellent release from this new label. Highly recommended.

Joe McPhee & Michael Zerang
Creole Gardens (A New Orleans Suite)

NoBusiness Records NBCD-32

CD
£13.99


Stellar live recording from one of the greatest living free jazz saxophonists, Joe McPhee, and percussionist Michael Zerang. The range of McPhee’s thought at this point is fairly staggering, exposing himself to playing situations that range from the Chicago underground through Chris Corsano, Peter Brotzmann’s big band and LAFMS fugitives Smegma. But then McPhee has always been a radical thinker, incorporating tapes and electronics early on as part of his Survival Unit. Indeed, I would say that he has never sounded better, bucking the trend for fire musicians to tame the flames as they age and pushing himself headlong into new situations that keep his thinking and playing sharp. Which brings us to this gorgeous new LP from a label that has established itself as one of the premier free jazz imprints, Lithuania’s NoBusiness Records. Recorded live in New Orleans, with titles and themes that reference the city, McPhee’s playing here is so lucid, so beautifully ‘out’, that at points it feels like a compendium of alla the aspects of the saxophonist’s personality that have illuminated his back catalogue reduced to the space of a single set. Zerang gives him plenty of room to spread out, whether playing spare rhythmic tattoos beneath his beautiful pocket trumpet work or chasing the trails of his obsessively raging saxophone. It’s a fucking doozer, is what I’m trying to say. Highly recommended.

Joe McPhee & Chris Corsano
Scraps And Shadows

Roaratorio Roar-26

LP
£16.99


Second duo album on Roaratorio from this inspired hook-up between veteran free jazz saxophonist Joe McPhee and drummer Chris Corsano: this is a major kick out the jams bomb, with a buncha titles dedicated to fellow heavy-hitters like Paul Flaherty, Kidd Jordan, Han Bennink, Muhammad Ali and Fred Anderson. McPhee moves between pocket trumpet, tenor and soprano saxophone throughout. The trumpet blats are particularly effective, pushing Corsano into a weird martial Don Ayler/Don Cherry vibe that he responds to by marching the whole damn deal to the edge of the precipice. But it’s McPhee’s tenor that really grounds the music, playing with a breadth of tone and the kind of interstellar logic of the late-Coltrane ensembles while making lightning strikes on the saxophone’s most phantom registers. A great, great side, one that could have sat as comfortably on Centre Of The World or ESP Disk back in the day while playing with the kinda fiery no-prisoners assault that is truly post-Noise. Comes with a download, highly recommended. 

Steve Lacy & Joe McPhee
The Rest

Roaratorio Roar-28

one-sided LP
£12.99


Previously unreleased 1977 concert recorded in Basel, Switzerland featuring these two soprano saxophone titans: taking its title from jazz critic Steve Loewy’s comment about the first solo Lacy half of the concert that originally came out on Hat Hut (the classic Lacy album Clinkers: “where is the other half?”, he asked), The Rest comes from a tape held by McPhee but never previously made available. Recorded early in McPhee’s career as the result of a spontaneous invitation from Lacy to join him ion stage for the second half of the concert, this is an absolute tour-de-force, with Lacy on stunning form, charging through ideas with a pin-point focus and a beautiful, romantic swooning tone that is unmistakable. McPhee’s soprano playing is a great counterpoint, chasing endlessly-repeating loops of fluid tone one minute, adding strange declamatory asides to Lacy’s sudden gasps of ballad form the next. Plus there are sections when the two get really out, sounding like some kind of post-Nonaah/AACM investigation into space rock. A major addition to the shelves of both players, with liners from McPhee and a free download. Recommended!

Aster
s/t

Rel Records REL-008

LP
£10.99


Another stunningly beautiful package from Eli Keszler’s Rel Records. This one is the debut duo release from Keszler and Ashley Paul. Here Keszler plays bowed percussion and cymbals while Paul tears wild altissimo sustains from saxophone and clarinet, confusing the kind of static jazz minimalism of the Tamio Shiraishi/Sean Meehan duos with the sound art of Ikuro Takahashi and Harry Bertoia. The way Paul strains to modulate high, lonesome pitches has some of the melancholy grandeur of Kaoru Abe though the overall feel – constant high-tones spinning in clouds above subtle scrapes and roars - makes it feel closer to a more tactile take on eternal music than anything approaching free jazz. The dynamics of the flip are a ‘little’ more conventionally reed/drums, though Paul opts more for weird, inflating tones than anything approaching runs, while Keszler is more focused on expressive texture than time. The final track crosses strings with thuds of percussion that feels like a more improvised take on the electro-acoustic confusion of the first New Blockaders LP. Pressed on 160 gram copper plate pressed virgin vinyl, the record is housed in a black inner sleeve. The textured paper cover features a layered silk screened drawing while the inside contains grey pasted notes with an attached 8x24 inch three part multi-tone picture printed across a fold-out frosted vellum book. All silk screened, hand assembled and drawn by Ashley and Eli. The record comes in a limited hand numbered edition of 300 copies.

Aster
s/t

Rel Records REL-016

one-sided LP
£10.99


First in a series of live documents from Rel Records with the duo of Eli Keszler and Ashley Paul recorded live at Great Scott in Boston in May 2009. Released in a hand-numbered run of 135 copies and packaged with the usual stunning attention to detail we’ve come to expect from Eli/Rel, the set sees the duo apply drums, cymbals, alto saxophone, guitar, ‘green box’, banjo and bow to a series of instant settings that exist somewhere between The Revolutionary Ensemble, Iancu Dumitrescu and Einsturzende Neubauten. The compositions are complex, string and percussion heavy, generating bisecting lines of breath and collapsing rhythms that have a stately grandeur and an industrial weight while confusing sound art and avant composition with raw free jazz. Still the most thrilling inheritors of the whole underground/outside ESP-Disk aesthetic currently active. 

Aster
Things That Just Happen

Rel Records REL21

LP
£16.99


New edition of 350 copies LP from the duo of Ashley Paul and Eli Keszler: Things That Just Happen is the second album from these two and it is a stunning amalgam of subtle sound art, fragile folk/psych stumble pop and beautiful freely improvised drones.   Using no electronic processing whatsoever, the pair draw harmonically dense sustained tones from saxophone and crotales, with a beautiful sound-in-stasis feel that could almost be Harry Bertoia. The songs cross the kinda fragile poetry of the Reiko Kudo ot Ai Aso recordings with a blasted Jandek 1980s ‘feel’, moving from twin chiming guitars through dynamic sax/drums face-offs. Hard to think of anyone else who so convincingly blurs the line between sonic art and gently beating pop moves. Pressed on 200 g vinyl with insert and printed drawings, comes with a digital download.

Paul & Maurey
Satellite

Rel Records REL-019

LP
£16.99


Another set of peerlessly out song structures and dazzling psychedelic improvisation that tie together Corwood Industries and the work of Biota with nothing but the spontaneous breath of two humans, Ashley Paul (Aster/Eli Keszler et al) and Sakiko Mori: Satellite is an extended edition, complete with new and unreleased material, of what was originally a micro-edition cassette released on Wagtail in 2010. Sakiko plays keyboards, percussion and harmonium while Paul plays guitar, green box, reeds and tuba, often swapping instruments mid-stream. This is delicately complex string-think and spontaneous songcraft that would somehow reconcile the brain-buzzing density and conceptual smarts of sound art with psychedelic femme-fronted folk and radically dilated improvisation. Imagine Reiko Kudo sings the Harry Bertoia songbook with an all-female Einsturzende Neubauten and a feel for textural spontaneity that is post-Incus and you have yourself a dream date. Comes pressed on clear vinyl in a custom hand-painted and silk screened jacket in an edition of 340 copies. Recommended.

Ashley Paul
Line The Clouds

Rel Records Rel-20

LP
£18.99


Beautiful full-length album from Ashley Paul: Ashley plays her own weirdly constructed songs that seem to be permanently teetering on the point of collapse, held up by fractured Corwood-style guitar, creaking and singing strings, bowed metal, saxophone and subtle zones of sustain and delay. The settings are heavenly, ethereal without ever being cute or cloying and with a beautiful balance of darkness and light and a confusion of sound art and personal songwriter-isms that has little parallel outside of maybe the work of Reiko Kudo or Liz Harris. This is a highly personal music that somehow ties up weirdo basement singer-songwriter styles with avant garde strings, improv moves, dream-pop ala My Bloody Valentine/Dome/AC Marias and exuberant non-musical techniques. Stunningly packaged as usual by Rel in heavy art edition sleeves in custom sealed packaged with a hand-embossed inner sleeve of Ashley’s animal drawings and a download code. Highly recommended.