Friday, June 17, 2005


I love Silentist. Once you hear them/him/it, you will, too.

Because I'm a semi-pro rock hack, with credits hither and yon, I get lots of records in the mail. I don't get everything, of course, or anywhere close to it. There are tons of great metal records I hear about later, and have to go scrounging for like a cash-paying civilian. Then there are things I hear about, and am able to cadge from the label or the band, for free. Two recent good ones are Silentist, and Mandarin Movie.

Silentist is the project of Mark Burden, who used to be in some bands I've never heard of. He used to have bandmates, too, but recent message-board postings indicate that Silentist is now a one-man show, Burden playing live drums and shouting along to tapes of guitar and piano.

The piano is the part that makes them cool. See, Silentist sound kinda grindcore; they've got urp/growl vocals mixed way down low, and guitar that sounds like the strings are just hangin' off the neck, and blast beats. But the lead instrument is piano. And not Jerry Lee Lewis style piano, or Professor Longhair style piano, but Matthew Shipp style piano. Pounding, repetitive, fists-on-the-keys out-jazz stuff. With a grind rhythm section. Dude, it's fucking killer. The only recorded document so far is a four-song, 19-minutes-and-change EP, Nightingales, out on Celestial Gang and available from the link above (or from Aquarius Records, which is where I read about them in the first place). Seriously, this guy is on some whole other shit, and if you're any kind of metalhead or free jazz freak (and especially if you're both, like me), you gotta hear this. I'm really hoping for more music from this guy soon, because this EP says 2004 on it, but if he puts something new out, I can write an article somewhere (probably The Wire) and get him the attention he totally deserves.

Mandarin Movie don't really need my help as much, I don't think. It's the latest project from the increasingly weird Rob Mazurek, cornet player and electronics guy from the Chicago Underground Insert-Number-Of-Players-Here and Isotope 217. A biggish band that also features guitar from Alan Licht, bass and more electronics from Matthew Lux, trombone from Steve Swell, double bass and still more electronics from Jason Ajemian, and drums from Frank Rosaly, their first disc is a pretty rip-roarin' thing. No blast beats, but if you remember the band God, well, MM obviously do, too, but there's more going on here than mere crush-'em-all noise-jazz attitude. This is thoroughly thought-out stuff, not just a rehashed Machine Gun with laptops. There's a progression from least to most unfriendly, which is a nice thing in a time when "out" records usually start with their baseball-bat-to-the-temple tracks, thus building up a glut of idea-less boring pieces for the stretch. Nope, this is a very solid record indeed. Nice for the summer, especially if you're hankerin' for a feud with the neighbors. Plus, the model on the back cover is totally hot in a chilly, European, vaguely freaky way.

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