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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Cactus Truck - Seizures Palace (NotTwo, 2014) ****½

By Stefan Wood

In music skronk is a word used to describe the indescribable; usually in reference to aggressive noise that is seemingly incoherent, a sax bleating non stop, drums flailing in non linear rhythms, or guitars screeching sheets of sound.  It has negative connotations, a word that fits the bill when someone is talking about music that is so jarring that words to adequately describe it fails. The Cactus Truck revels in it, with creativity and excellence, in their new and appropriately titled album, "Seizures Palace."  I'll be clear: this is not for the feint of heart.  This is tinnitus inducing, headphone shattering skronk of the best kind.

With John Dikeman on saxophone, Jasper Stadhouders on guitar, and Onno Govaert on drums, Cactus Truck is a Dutch group strongly influenced by Albert Ayler, Peter Brotzmann, and the no noise scene of the late 70s/early 80s.  Dikeman is a force on saxophone, not acerbic like Brotzmann and a little more lyrical than Ayler, but no less potent in breathing fire through his instrument. Stadhouders is equally powerful on guitar, his playing culling from the sounds created by early 80s groups like Sonic Youth, the Swans, the Ex, and a myriad of other post punk noise groups. Govaert finished the trio off with percussion that sound like it is falling off of a cliff, but is cohesive and underlines the power of his fellow musicians. Throughout they do cross the boundaries of free jazz and punk, fusing the improvisational of the former with the earthy hardcore and speed of the latter. Three of the tracks are less than 30 seconds, framing the album by occurring in the beginning, middle and end. "Will To Power," "One For Roy," and "Fourth Wind" are stand out tracks, with forceful statements made by all three players, trading blows and punches as if their lives depended on it.  They are creative enough no not make the noise all sound similar, in fact their variety in sonic attacks is what makes this album work so well.

"Seizures Palace" is highly recommended, not only for its brute force, but for its creative chops as well.