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Friday, November 11, 2011

Combat Astronomy - Flak Planet (Zond, 2011) ****

By Stef

You can call it headbangers jazz, or metal jazz, or industrial jazz, the band itself tags its own genre as "ambient avant doom metal brutal prog free jazz". If you have difficulties grasping what this means, I can recommend that you listen to this Bandcamp link. The band is Martin Archer on organ, electronics, zither, tambourine, sopranino, alto and baritone saxes, Bb and bass clarinets, and bass recorder, with Mick Beck on tenor sax and bassoon, James Huggett on fretless 5 string bass, Mike Ward on tenor sax, bass and concert flutes, reindeer horn and drone flute, and Derek Saw on trombone and trumpet. The drums are all programmed.

The result is quite stunning and even better than "Dematerialised Passenger", the only other album I ever heard by the band, because they take their concept to the limit, using jazz instruments (basically) to generate the rock feel of heavy metal with all its connotations of slow and relentless doom and oppression. 

It is actually great fun, although some might call it torture to the ears, and well, I'm sure the band won't mind this description either.

Listen and download from Bandcamp

Kumiko Takara, Massimo Pupillo, Paal Nilssen-Love - Raids On The Unspeakable (2011) ***

Less impressive but equally violent is this EP by  Kumiko Takara on vibes, Massimo Pupillo on electric bass and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums. The trio manages to create a heavy and powerful sound, full of darkness and forward drive, keeping the tension even in the sparse lower volume moments. Despite some really strong parts, and the unidirectional strong musicianship of Pupillo and Nilssen-Love, the sound quality is not excellent, and at times the sense of cohesion gets a little bit lost.

For those interested in the genre, I can also recommend the French band Kolkhöse Printanium. 

Keep those heads banging!

© stef