Monday, October 26, 2009

Music Library: Avett Brothers, Albert Ayler, Band of Susans, Borbetomagus, Camper Van Chadbourne, Derek Bailey

I have a lot of catch-up albums to burn through, but man, I need a break from the regularly scheduled material after spending a week with Jandek. So here we go!

Avett Brothers - Emotionalism (2007). Picked up on the recommendation of a friend who saw them at ACL Fest. I like about 3/4 of it, but the sappy ballads bring the album's momentum to a sudden stop every time. Perhaps it's part and parcel of my state as a bitter old git, but I think their emotionalism is better when turned towards regret and bitterness.

Albert Ayler - Lörrach, Paris 1966. This is a fantastic, beautiful, transcendent live album with Ayler & co. tearing down all the walls. Each piece starts with an iteration of the theme, nothing that an self-respecting mid-century brass band wouldn't know. But then it all turns into free-jazz pursuit of the ineffable. This is the emotionalism I was seeking. This marks the fourth time I've written about Ayler on this blog and I have yet to say why I like him so much. I still can't put it into better words.

Band of Susans - Love Agenda (1989). I've also written about the Band of Susans before. In short, I love their wall-of-skronk-guitar-sound and sense of melody through the din of noise, a tactic they learned from Glenn Branca and Rhys Chatham and gave to My Bloody Valentine, among others. Great band, great album. I still don't have Veil, but this is four of five studio albums for me. Love the cover of "Child of the Moon," too.

Borbetomagus - Snuff Jazz (1990). Perhaps the most punishing of punishing avant-jazz in the world, Borbetomagus makes Peter Brötzmann sound like the Archies. This disc includes two live performances of near-unbearable squall and shriek that I can appreciate on an intellectual level while my ears beg me to move on. When I saw My Bloody Valentine a few months back, I had the experience that others have reported during "You Made Me Realise" where my mind imposes melody on the chaos during the sheer din of the loud section. However, Borbetomagus resists harmony. It is an unpleasant cleansing. Sound sounds so much better when it ends.

Camper Van Chadbourne - Camper Van Chadbourne (1987). As you might gather from the title of this project, it is the work of avant-garde guitarist Eugene Chadbourne and Camper Van Beethoven. I saw Chadbourne play a few times when I lived in North Carolina, and it was pretty great. He's not just a fun bluegrass/jazz/avant-garde stylist and an oversized personality, but the man plays the electric rake. That weird humor is on display on this album, which features not just a number of originals satirizing political events of the 1980s but also covers of King Crimson's "I Talk To The Wind," a medley of Zappa songs, two covers of Monk's "Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues," plus Byrds, Fugs, and early Pink Floyd. Fun!

Derek Bailey - Pieces For Guitar (1967). A major influence on Eugene Chadbourne, Bailey opened up doors for creators of atonal free music such as Jandek, Eugene Chadbourne, Borbetomagus, and Band of Susans. This is a lovely album of Bailey's earliest recordings from 1966 and 1967, which was released only a few years ago. Bailey sounds closer to conventional than anywhere else in his catalog on this album, but he also sounds like himself. Neat stuff.


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