23 November


XNN – Dance Chaos Magic (2020, Eschatology)


Like a tenacious pugilist, Eschatology Records keeps dishing out swift blows, unrelenting as ever. The latest thwack to sit you on yr proverbial backside is Dance Chaos Magic, a 40 minute track boasting a notable quartet comprised of reigning eschatological champ himself, Ben Cohen (saxophones) along with heavyweights Daniel Carter, (Saxophones, Trumpet, Flute, Clarinet ), Eli Wallace (piano), and Dan Kurfirst (drums).

The first 10 minutes of the piece, the quartet float ’round breezy as hell. Carter’s flute work is playful, head-bobbing and slyly intertwines with Cohen. Arcane tea kettle and subdued poet, mingling. One might argue this is the strongest portion of the piece.

At around 11’ Wallace re-enters spooky, like. Vertiginous villain, tip-toeing up (or is it down) the stairs, the whole thing channeling Dolphy’s film noir vibes — we are in pursuit, quick duck ‘round the corner — all the way. What this listener can now suss out as Wallace’s trademark style (a little bit staccato, a little bit woody, with a nice slathering of prepared pianee) is all over the first third of the piece. Whilst Wallace sits a bit loud in the mix initially, as the piece unfolds, the piano recedes and the stereo spread settles a bit with each instrument sitting nicely in the mix. Wallace’s work from 17’ – 23’ is particularly superb and ranges from the realm of the prepared to Schönberg-esque balladry.

The group comes into their own at 23’ — 27’. Think Don Cherry and Ornette’s interplay on the Ornette! spliced in with Ornette’s Free Jazz LP, take the tape and leave it in a hot car all summer and you might be close — moody, stretched, and free as all get.

The closing quarter of the piece truly runs the gamut. From forlorn and contemplative musings only to crescendo into something that sounds like one of Tashi Dorji and Tyler Damon’s frenetic outings relayed by one of Shabaka Hutchings’ groups. It grooves, but won’t hesitate to make yr head spin.

Street fighters who blast Eschatology Records back catalogue or Daniel Carter out of their sound systems, harmolodic hard-hitters, and devotees of ICP (juggalos and Dutch improvisers, alike!) be sure to give this a whirl.