I was cleaning today and noticed a small stack of CDs I'd never bothered to listen to during '06, just kinda filed 'em away when they arrived. So I popped a couple of 'em in the player. The first was Whit Dickey's Sacred Ground (Clean Feed). This is the third album Dickey’s done for this Portuguese label, and I can't even remember the names of the other two, never mind what they sounded like. They all have the same personnel, more or less: Roy Campbell on trumpet, Rob Brown on alto sax, Joe Morris on bass (on one of the other two, there was a different bassist, so Morris played guitar), and Dickey on drums. Five or even four years ago, I'd have bent over backwards to find something nice or at least encouraging to say about a record like this, but I don't have it in me anymore to cheerlead for guys who are running on fumes, creatively. (If they're not, they're jacking off just to get the session fee and the few hundred guaranteed sales, and that's maybe even worse.) Can free jazz be formulaic and faceless? You bet your ass, and this is the proof.
I got better results with Catacombs' In The Depths Of R'lyeh (Moribund Cult). This came out in February, but I didn't pay any attention at the time, for reasons I can’t accurately recall right now. (It might have been because the label sent me some goofy solo-black-metal stuff at the same time – Fear Of Eternity, Striborg – and I probably couldn’t muster the energy to slot one more of their offerings into the player). It's doom metal at its most ponderous - basically, the tempo of early Swans with a lot more sustain in the guitar lines - and the vocals go down into Cookie Monster's sub-basement until they don't even sound like a human voice, let alone discernible words. Six songs in 72 minutes and some change (Track Two, “Dead Dripping City,” runs close to 17 minutes all by itself). It's not as good as Ahab's The Call Of The Wretched Sea, but it’s pretty good, and the title of the last track made me laugh – "Awakening Of The World's Doom (Reprise)."