Mette Rasmussen/Tashi Dorji/Tyler Damon — To The Animal Kingdom (2017, Trost)
Hot off the press from Austrian label, Trost Records, To The Animal Kingdom is a blistering release from a fantastic trio of Mette Rassmussen, Tashi Dorji, and Tyler Damon. Recorded live in Toronto during the trio’s brief Canadian tour in the summer of 2016, the opening bars of the title track prod, poke, and playfully tease the listener before exploding into a joyful cacophony that straddles a meandering and rapturous line between disgruntled no wave and John Coltrane’s final works with Rashied Ali. “To Life” features Rasmussen’s serrated, almost Dolphy-esque playing, which invokes hardboiled film noir chase scenes and/or the turtlenecked basement hipsters of yesteryear, spitting, salivating, and flippantly flicking their cigarettes with disdain, all the while losing their shit behind the impenetrable façade of cool. Concurrently, Damon and Dorji’s equally fervid sonic quills shred the air ragged, making for a melange of something that’s not quite jazz, not quite punk, and not quite noise rock, yet would fit square in the middle of a Venn diagram of the three. The closer, “To The Heavens and Earths” is a slowly crescendoing, jerky, free jazz number. At times reminiscent of a less bombastic Last Exit, the piece builds to it’s lurching apex, only for the bottom to drop out. Just like a bird whose sprightly song has ceased, the ensemble briefly take stock of all that surrounds, before fluttering off into the vastness of the world.
Keiji Haino and Yoshida Tatsuya — New Rap (2006, Tzadik)
Buy [no stream, sorry]
This 2006 collaboration between two titans of the Japanese underground is both everything one would expect it to be, yet still manages to delight and offer surprises. Released on John Zorn’s Tzadik label, New Rap is something of an artistic balancing act. Not only does the duo possess the requisite talents to throttle up and pull back, Keiji Haino and Yoshida Tatsuya balance their own reputations and egos. Resultantly, the listener is treated to a spastic and exploratory release where the collaborators effectively transcend preconceptions and expectations, and craft an artwork reflective of this transcendence. It’s not Haino, it’s not Tatsuya, it is some strange rendering of both and neither, contradictory though it may sound. The duo flirt with no wave, free jazz, and noise rock, never sounding lost or contrived. The opener “Houston Street” sets the tone and undoubtedly caught those of us at Marginal HQ by surprise: instead of Haino doing full on freak outs, the duo knockout something approaching a postmodern-no wave tango.”West Broadway” features a shrieking Haino who makes extensive use of vocal loops. Tatsuya’s frantic drumming lends to the frenzy, which builds to the bursting point by the song’s conclusion. “West 48th Street” explores free jazz motifs, before exploding into a mélange of tight, yet erratic drumming and vocal howls. In the final 3:00 of the track, Haino’s vocals sound as if they’re part horse, part horn, as the duo spiral down the billowing reaches of the sonic maelstrom. “Chinatown” is arguably one of the best tunes on the album, and begins as a prodding and staccato number that evolves into an engrossing and radiant piece punctuated with Haino’s shrieks. In their 48 minutes through New York City, the two demonstrate why they’ve become icons and mainstays. Highly recommended for no-wavers, fans of Rhode Island noise rock, or any of Haino or Tatsuya’s other works.
Tunic — Disappointment (2016, Public Tone)
While the band purports themselves to be fans of the Chicago School of noise rock, they sound remarkably fresh. Making use of the early-Albini’s midwest-y driving, frenetic pace, but ditching all the macho-loner bullshit. Frenzied eighth notes are to be expected on any punk release and are ever-present here, but so too are slightly unorthodox rhythms which manage to bludgeon the listener and simultaneously break with punk’s proclivity toward the straight eight. Among the most appealing aspects of the release are the band’s sheer emotional intensity and the fidelity of the release. It sounds on first audition to be live-tracked and fairly spartan. One hopes for the sake of authenticity, this isn’t some digital gimmick. Despite its brevity, this release is visceral enough to stand up straight and deliver a knockout blow. Done and dusted in under ten minutes. Pop open the deck and the tape is sizzling. Highly recommended.