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Friday, December 14, 2007

Jeffrey Hayden Shurdut - The Williamsburg Sessions II (Ayler Records, 2007) ****

Here is another excellent record by Ayler Records, by Jeffrey Hayden Shurdut on guitar and amplifier, Blaise Siwula on alto sax, Brian Osborne on drums. Shurdut is the "inventor" of environmental tuning or "Etuning" with which he is trying to reflect the sounds of every day life. On this album the three environments are the lumber yard, the warehouse and the waterfront. Hence the titles of the three tracks "Etuning The Lumber Yard", "Etuning The Warehouse" and "Etuning The Waterfront". It sounds silly but it shouldn't put you off : the music is great. Jeffrey Shurdut uses his guitar to bring back to life the sounds that he heard at these locations, with or without electronic changes. Osborne carefully plays his percussion around this, gentle and precise, with all the attention going to Siwula's wonderful playing on the alto. "Etuning The Lumberyard" starts with slow blowing and soft-spoken guitar and drums, but gradually the rhythms get more halting, louder and uptempo, industrial if you want, noise if you like, but still focused and rhythmic, then falling away completely for some beautiful solo alto, a little sad that the end of the day has arrived and all activity has clearly stopped in the lumberyard. On the second track Siwula's melodic and bluesy blowing flows like waves over the splintered drone created by guitar and drums, structureless, even-toned. The third track "Etuning The Waterfront" is by far the best. Now drums and guitar create regular sounds but in an irregular way, coming and going, like boats or heavy trucks passing by or power-drills or helicopters, and through those sounds Siwula is playing his plaintive, melancholy notes, adding the emotional contrast to the harsh sounds, then, as the music slowly evolves, all of these background noises coalesce into a wall of noise, and Siwula turns up the volume, playing anguished, painful melodies, and when the wall of noise becomes rhythmic and counter-rhythmic like hell, the sax is being drawn in by the rhythm, generating some hair-raising distress, maybe even terror, and when at the end the rhythm becomes tribal, hypnotic and intense, Siwula starts playing repetitive phrases for the first time since the beginning of the record, and once he does that ... magic emerges, as if he's become totally sucked up by and surrendering to the madness around him, sounding like a self-sacrificing liberation. Stunning!

Downloadable from many sites. Do it.


Anonymous said...

Hey, how do I email you, bro? I can't find any contact info on your profile.

Stef said...

Thank you for the comment, anonymous.

I added an e-mail address in my profile.