Experimental Jazz Rock
February 5th, 2016 – auralgamiSOUNDS
Formerly D’Arkestra, Curio Key Club is the most recent evolution of the musical stylings of Louisville’s Drew Miller, fleshed out into a band of seven thoroughly talented musicians. Songs on Curio Key Club are even more patient and complex in their form and texture than the D’Arkestra music that came before them – the band having progressed to an even greater, more tasteful ability of playing off each other’s ideas. All seven musicians play as a hive mind, even in the most complicated and tempestuous moments of the album, staying welded together in their groove and interjecting at just the right moments. The album is well realized as a whole, pacing itself with both sung songs and instrumental tracks, building an intensity and carrying a momentum as it carries on. “Running Man,” one of the album’s pre-released singles is propelled by its drums and bass, with a rhythmically contrasting chorus – as a sub-four-minute track, it serves as a great representation of the band’s sound. The album’s final track, “Killing Fields,” hides five minutes of intricate instrumental work behind a somewhat less intense first half, before bringing the album to a close. Kudos to Kevin Ratterman of La La Land for his recording skills and for making such a complex album speak with such clarity; similarly, I really enjoyed the collaged art that Brandon Bass put together for the album’s packaging. It’s refreshing to hear music as thoughtfully orchestrated and tastefully complex as the songs on Curio Key Club, making the album an enjoyable and repeatable listen.
Tracks I Liked: Running Man!!!, Tweezer Chef!!, Faceless!, Slang Transit!, See Yourself!!, Killing Fields!!!
Ben Southworth – February 3rd, 2016 – Kenwick Place
Llama Records – September 15th, 2015
I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed a free jazz record before. It’s certainly the sort of thing that’s tough to pin down in writing – it’s not easy to break it down into smaller parts. That said, this new album by Jason Stein, Raleigh Dailey, and Tim Daisy is one that listens well from beginning to end – it feels much like one might expect a live performance to feel like. Jason Stein and Tim Daisy are both big players in the Chicago free jazz scene – Stein performs exclusively on bass clarinet, and Tim Daisy on percussion. Raleigh Dailey, a Lexington-based pianist, is Associate Professor of Jazz Studies at the University of Kentucky. The tracks on this album range in sound from fast, loud, and busy washes of cacophony to quieter, more restrained, and more contemplative murmured conversations between the three musicians. The second track, “In the Shape of a Pig,” is a patient exercise in quietness, filled with scrapes on piano strings, pitter patter on gongs and drums, and throaty flutters on the bass clarinet. Perhaps my favorite of the album is track four, “Against the Gray,” which is a lengthy, gradual escalation from calmness to chaos, and shows off the talent of each of the three musicians very well. Generally speaking, I’m not always able to enjoy recordings of free impov – it’s the kind of music tends to make more sense to me, and tends to have a greater emotional impact when I hear it performed live. Opening Lines feels spontaneous, the musicians sound very well in-sync with one another, and it translates the atmosphere of a live performance better than most free improv albums I’ve heard, and is all the better album because of it. If you’re a fan of free improv (or even if you’re not, and you’re just feeling a little adventurous), I would certainly recommend giving this a try.
Tracks I Liked: In the Shape of a Pig, Against the Gray, When Now
Ben Southworth – September 19th, 2015 – Kenwick Place
Genre: Math-Core, Genre Bending Metal
“Be courteous, obey the law, respect everyone – but if someone puts his hand on ya, send em’ to the cemetery!”
The first words of this album, sampled from a speech by Malcom X, this quote does a pretty great job of summarizing the entire atmosphere and mood of this album – at least in its themes and lyrical content. Much like Peculate’s previous releases, Pax Tecum is an album that hits all over the spectrum of genres, while having its foot firmly planted in metal. Somehow, though, the album manages to explore even more sounds and genres than anything Ben Norton – the singular force behind Peculate – has recorded so far. Not only does it bounce around through metal, rock, ambient, and mixed-meter trickery, it includes influences (even entire sections of songs) of jazz, electronica, and some awesome sampling. The influence behind the themes explored in the album is certainly worth noting, and though the political commentary is still overt and easy to spot, Norton does a better job of embedding these themes in an artful way than before. Though some of the lyrics still read a little bit like a political rally’s speech (and maybe intentionally so,) there are those – like “Class War” – that sing out a little more like most songs. Pax Tecum, if anything, is quite a lot like the stuff that Peculate has done before, but at a much improved level – there’s more genres tied into each other more craftily, more artfully written lyrics, and an album as a whole that covers some really important material.
Tracks I Liked: Suffer Peacefully!!, Never Hurt a Soul!, A Romance!!, Class War!!!
Ben Southworth – July 10th, 2013 – Radio Free Lexington
Genre: Experimental Jazz-Fusion
I’m a bit behind on writing this review, but when I received this album, I was immediately excited to just listen to something for the sake of listening to it (a rarity nowadays, haha.) Lead by saxophonist Drew Miller – who has also shared his talents with Lucky Pineapple and Another7Astronauts – the album is a great bit of experimental jazz, and the influences of these bands can be heard in this recording. Whether the track features vocals or not, the song is allowed to play out before the band introduces the next idea. The album’s title track is probably the best on here, as it accomplishes all sorts of good things – instrumentally, vocally, structurally – and shows off the jazz training of the band members quite well. The rest of the album moves along like this, with a dizzying sound that staggers along, but never gives the feeling of falling over. It’s recorded very well, and if you (like me) are a little slow on the uptake of this local talent, I’d certainly recommend checking out.
Tracks I Liked: Jazzist!!, Halogen!, Ghost Town!!!, Ghetto Boo… I Miss You! (nice and funky), Squares and Squares!!, Boogaloo!
– Ben Southworth