Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Black Hole/Live at Tampere
Black Hole is a stunning example of saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, with his Full Blast trio, in his "big-dick art" mode - to use a phrase first deployed against sculptor Richard Serra. It's also a concise demonstration of the meaninglessness of track titles. The names of most of the pieces on Black Hole are references to quantum physics ("Large Hadron Collider," "Teilchencrash," "Quarks Up/Down"), but they sound stylistically indistinguishable from the seven untitled live tracks on the bonus disc, Live at Tampere.
No matter what labels are put on the music, it's the raw exhilaration the three players muster and sustain that counts. Drummer Michael Wertmüller, heard to great effect on Brötzmann's 2001 album Nothung, not to mention the self-titled 2006 debut by this group, keeps up a complex and stunningly powerful rhythmic attack across both discs like a combination of Rashied Ali and Mobrid Angel's Pete Sandoval. Obstreperous electric bassist Marino Pliakas cranks it up in a manner that almost explicitly recalls Bill Laswell's work alongside the saxophonist in Last Exit, when he's not stomping a pedal and transforming into a noise/metal guitarist. Indeed, this is every bit as much the rhythm players' show as Brötzmann's. But the frontman defies expectations throughout this 95-minute journey - the blustery, shrieking runs one expects are repeatedly countered by long, keening passages of quite heartfelt beauty, not to mention the melancholy reed work on "Protoneparcel." Too frequently underestimated, he remains a trickster disguised as a caveman.

Stillborn Plague Angels
New Zealander Campbell Kneale spent years pumping out music on every conceivable format as Birchville Cat Motel and Black Boned Angel. Now he's assumed a new identity - Our Love Will Destroy The World, a phrase/declaration some may recognize as the title of a 2006 BCM disc. This vinyl-only release offers up four thick slabs of droning, multilayered guitar-and-unidentified-other-stuff noise that's maybe in theory just slightly inspired by doom and/or black metal. But don't go lighting torches and painting your face just yet. The title track is an almost Sunn O)))-esque rumble with lots of oddly beautiful overtones and hidden melodies, while "Pink Hollow Paradise" is an ugly mix of high-pitched tones and a loud swooshing roar, like someone vacuuming in the next room while you're trying to listen to Ryoji Ikeda. Toward the end it gets a little crunchier, like crickets playing along with a Borbetomagus album, and if the last few seconds are to be believed, it was inflicted on a live (and appreciative) audience.
"Chinese Emperors And The Army Of Eternity" kicks off side two, sounding like lonely ghosts wailing through a metal fabrication shop while someone plays a piano in the office. At about the 12-minute mark, someone else starts blowing the world's largest kazoo, which bridges us into the final track, "Over Prehistoric Texas," a combination of Borbetomagus and Skullflower that's less anarchic than the former but more satisfying than the latter, and which ends in tape slice. Ultimately, Stillborn Plague Angels is a pleasing if somewhat volume-dependent release. If you haven't got speakers the size of refrigerators, it may not provide the out-of-body experience available to those willing and able to go for total sonic immersion.

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