Volcanic Tongue Catalogue

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

NoBusiness Records NBCD-32


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
Undergroud Railroad

Bo'Weavil Recordings Weavil-51


Edition of 500 copies reissue of this free jazz masterpiece from 1969: McPhee is a versatile multi-instrumentalist who has forged his own circuitous route through the jazz underground since his blazing debut on Clifford Thornton’s Freedom & Unity back in 1967.  In recent years his profile has been higher than ever thanks to fruitful associations with younger players like Chris Corsano, Hamid Drake and Mats Gustafsson as well as with Peter Brotzmann but most of his early recordings, released on his own CjR imprint, have long been unavailable.  Underground Railroad was the first release under his own name and it’s a primitive whirlwind of a session, with drummer Ernest Bostic sounding like a fleet of steam rollers behind McPhee’s catastrophically powerful horn.  This is a cataclysmic recording, one that lurches between primitive field holler force, walls of tribal percussion and hurricanes of weeping brass. CjR was also one of the earliest artists-run private press free jazz imprints and the restoration of alla its earliest releases is a major public service. Highly recommended. 

Eli Keszler

Rare Youth RY-010


Fantastic LP of austere solo percussion and dark matrixes of strings from this past collaborator with Jandek, with aspects of Scelsi and Dumitrescu, Chris Corsano, Keiji Haino and Biota: “Debut LP by drummer/multi-instrumentalist Eli Keszler. A distinct composition in four parts, Livingston is a brooding and dark meditation for drums, crotales, guitar, clarinet, bowed percussion, Fender Rhodes, nail violin, and tapes. This is a rare kind of solo record, in that Eli's obvious instrumental virtuosity is tempered with a refined sense of composition and emotional space. You don't get the sense that this is the work of a single musician. Furious outbursts of raw percussive energy are kept in check by floating, distended melodies, and moments of silence are interrupted by the jarring clarity of high-pitched bells being bowed at close intervals. At times sounding like an Indonesian gamelan being put through the wringer, and at others like the massive drone of an aeolian harp being played by the wind -- Livingston effectively combines the influences of composers like Giacinto Scelsi and Iannis Xenakis with the improvisational energy and atmosphere of an artist like Keiji Haino. Clocking it at just over 23 minutes, this is a potent piece of music and an auspicious debut by a very talented young artist. Limited edition of 300, with hand-screened covers. Definitely recommended to fans of Mirror, Organum, ESPdisk, nmperign, Jandek, Evan Parker and Paul Lytton, Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, Phil Niblock, etc.” – RY. Recommended.


Rel Records REL-016

one-sided LP

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. 

Things That Just Happen

Rel Records REL21


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

Rel Records REL-019


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.