Some releases should come with a warning label. We are not talking about Tipper Gore (remember her?) Parents' Music Resource Center (PMRC) stickers warning of the dangers of ''Raising PG Kids in an X-Rated Society" of the late 1980s. No, the alert that should be attached to S/T by the Wasteland Jazz Ensemble might read something like "secure all sharp objects and nail down anything that could be blown away." Similar to preparing for a category 4 hurricane, there is a bit of preparation required to experience this recording.
Wasteland Jazz Ensemble is an expansion of the duo Wasteland Jazz Unit of Jon Lorenz and John Rich. Both are reed players specializing in free improvisation with a premium on noise. Their saxophone and clarinets are fed through feedback electronics resulting in an onslaught of energy and noise, maybe best described as entropy music for robots. Their roots are in the Japanoise music of Masami Akita aka Merzbow, C.C.C.C., Hijokaidan, and Incapacitants, with close ties to the reeds and guitar trio Borbetomagus.
With this double LP, the duo expands into a septet that includes bassist Edward Ricart, the electronics of Matthew Reis, guitarist Dylan Posa, and percussionists Brett Nagafuchi and Ryan Jewell. The touchpoint of this septet begins with Peter Brötzmann's Machine Gun (BRÖ, 1968), John Coltrane's Ascension (Impulse!, 1966), and Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz (Atlantic, 1961), then incorporates the noise experimentations of Cuts Of Guilt, Cuts Deeper (Rare Noise, 2015) by Merzbow, Mats Gustafsson, Thurston Moore, and alázs Pándi.
"Untitled I" begins with a drumstick count into mayhem much like John Zorn's compositions for his Naked City band. But where Zorn's chaos may last 20 seconds, the WJE expands the tumult for nearly fifteen minutes. The shortest track, "Untitled V," at just over four minutes is no less punishing. The septet equipped with Reis' electronics, plus the feedback via contact mics of Lorenz' saxophone and Rich's clarinet does not allow for a pause to take a breath throughout the seven tracks. The expansion from a duo to this larger ensemble brings added layers to the experience. The thunder of Ricart's bass and the double drumming of Nagafuchi and Jewell add nuance, if you can accept nuance as a possibility of free jazz and noise. The music is not for the faint of heart, nor is the sound faint in your ears. It is a full-on cyclone experience without melodies and without discernible arrangements. It does though contain an animating spirit. A powerful life force that is indisputable for those prepared to listen.
John Rich: electronics; Matthew Reis: electronics; Brett Nagafuchi: percussion; Ryan Jewell: percussion.
| Year Released: 2023
| Record Label: Gilgongo Records
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