Thursday, July 30, 2015

Controlled Bleeding & Sparkle In Grey-Perversions of the Aging Savant; Off Records/Old Bicycle Records, split CD, 2015

Controlled Bleeding first came on to this listener's mental radar back in the late 1980's. Teenage Amnesiac had a friend that was a brilliant artist and thinker, and as such, this friend knew creative types that were a bit older and a bit more tapped in to the deeper currents of underground music. I recall getting a chance to thumb through one of these peoples' LP collection, and for some reason, the Controlled Bleeding stuff left the kind of mental impression that urged: SEEK THIS STUFF OUT. Over the years, Disaster Amnesiac has enjoyed hearing their output when possible, and, naturally, ended up following them on Facebook. Needless to say, I was compelled to check out their latest offering, a split with Italian group Sparkle In Grey, when it was announced on their page.
Perversions of the Aging Savant is presented less as an arbitrary split release, and more of a single-themed work. One great aspect to this theme is that a lot of its meaning is left to the listener to to ponder; aside from the titles, not a whole lot of info is given regarding this. What is given in spades, however, is a glut of musical changes and approaches, the entirety of which is delivered in all-instrumental fashion.
Controlled Bleeding present their sounds first, in a section titled "The Perks of Being a Perv", and it's quite impressive to hear their ideas therein. They run the gamut from Musique Concrete-like collage tones in Intro, to Heavy Psych Progressive in Garage Dub and Birdcanned Pt. 1 & 2, with their fantastic guitar squall and fine, free drumming, to the smashing Industrial aggro noise of Perks, and the pastoral loveliness of Springtime in Brooklyn. A short, guitar-led live track from 2012 is tacked on to the end of the CD version of Perversions, an introspective coda to the proceedings. One aspect of Controlled Bleeding that Disaster Amnesiac finds fascinating and inspiring is the way in which they've developed their unique voice: however they've wanted to! The core group of Paul Lemos, Joe Papa, Chad SB and Tony Meola seems to use whichever form that they're currently interested in exploring, all the while keeping their Experimental Music edge, and their unique voice, in the process. Their tracks on Perversions of the Aging Savant show this process to be one that is still evolving in creative, musically compelling directions.
Disaster Amnesiac was not familiar with Sparkle In Grey before hearing Perversions, but after having done so, I'm surely happier for it. Their section of the release, "The Rant of the Idiot Savant", is made up of four connected pieces that feature droning violin, piano, electronics, bass, and sax. This one starts off with a feel of late-night/early morning chamber jams, somewhat quietly burbling, then leads up to more assertive rhythmic patterns before sinking back into the ambient zone. It's as if the Savant's interest had been piqued, then his/her opinion served up, and then he/she had quietly skulked away into the night. As I've listened, I've thought that I'd love to hear Sparkle In Grey live, and their bonus track, also at the end portion of the disc, with its great, spacious drumming of Simone Riva and sweet, minor harmonic horn lines, only adds to that desire. Perhaps they could book a joint U.S. tour with Controlled Bleeding?
As I mentioned a few paragraphs back, Controlled Bleeding will always remind Disaster Amnesiac of certain key aesthetic influences. Looking back on those, for me, early exposures to creative art and music, I do feel a certain nostalgia, but I am certainly glad that groups like Controlled Bleeding have kept looking forward and developing their music, all the while never giving in the formulaic thought traps that can snare musicians over time. Underground groups such as them and Sparkle In Grey are doing fine work, pulling from various streams of music in order to develop their own voices. They may be aged, they be perverse, but don't let any of that scare you off of 'em. These savants' offering here is very worthy of your attention.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Ou-Scrambled!; Spoot 2015OU/Public Eyesore Records #132, 2015

Scrambled is right! Here Disaster Amnesiac was, having figured myself used to the Noise and extremely Avant-Garde offerings being sent over from Public Eyesore, and then this one arrives! Not that Disaster Amnesiac is complaining....far from it. Think about it this way: you've been served several odd elixers, thick with strange, otherworldly, unnamed tastes, and then a snifter of the finest, smoothest cognac arrives, along with the best of Cuban cigars, and you're asked to partake of them both. This is one of the feeling that I've had as Scrambled! has massaged my ear drums, in regard to previous Public Eyesore releases that I've heard. Seriously, my perceptions about it all have indeed been scrambled! 
There are many aspects of the this big(ish) band recording to enjoy, not the least of which is the voice of Martina Fadda. I guess it would be safe to say that Fadda is the featured performer herein, as eight of the nine tracks feature her pretty prominently. Stop checking your Facebook status for a second and think back to the preceding paragraph and recall the cognac analogy. Got it? Good, as it's most definitely her voice that provides a lot of that smooth feel. She also achieves a lovely sensuousness with her delivery in Spanish, Italian, English, and Portuguese. Is there a finer language in which to sing than the latter? If you find it, please let me know. Disaster Amnesiac has reveled at listening to her singing the whimsical lyrics of band leader Ersilia Prosperi. Martina has the kind of Jazz singing voice that relaxes the mind, taking the listener down cool, understated melodic streams. No yelling or shouting here, just really beautiful, skillful vocal technique and execution that runs the gamut through many powerful modes.
Disaster Amnesiac knows from recent personal experience just how complicated it can be to play within a large ensemble, and it's partly that knowledge that makes listening to Ou's group interaction such an impressive subjective experience. All of the players navigate Scrambled!'s charts with skill and zest; they play funky Second Line in S'Ou Abbattadu, Euro-Free, seasoned with Mingus-like Cumbia flavoring, in Gallone Bocca Larga, evoke Bahia beauty choruses in Jengi; simply put, this group cooks. Especially impressive is the shimmery post-Chick Corea piano from Andrea Pesce and the deceptively simple drumming from Cristiano De Fabritils that swings madly with bassist Claudio Mosconi. Reeds players Amy Denio and Cristina Pecorario submit great solos and fine harmony playing alongside Prosperi. In that same way that Martina Fadda's vocals offer many unique moods within Scrambled!'s duration, so too do her charts, and the players that make up Ou are very much up to it. Disaster Amnesiac has not heard such sounds as these since Mark Apfelbaum's Hieroglyphics Ensemble was storming stages with Don Cherry in tow.
Additionally, I'd like to submit a request that I Like You, a hilarious, short track of surreal humor, be played before most social functions from now on.
As the shock of the novel sound of this Public Eyesore disc has given way to pure enjoyment of its great tunes and the flair of their International and Jazz fusions, Disaster Amnesiac has found myself transported to mental spaces that have been highly enjoyable and highly musical. If you're at all interested in Vocal Jazz or large ensemble Jazz, hell, just Jazz in general, you'll find a wealth of compelling examples of said forms on Scrambled!. It will surely pair well with your perceptions.