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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Jooklo Trio - It Is What It Is / Virginia Genta - Amplified Sopranino Sax 7"

By Nick Metzger

It's pretty undisputed at this point that the Jooklos (Virginia Genta and David Vanzan) bare the torch for unabashed third eye opening, cosmic energy sourced, 21st century fire music. Their various incarnations and groupings explore free jazz, psychedelia, and punk with such ferocity, passion, and power that listening to the music can border on transcendence. The music is exciting and unpredictable and I've yet to hear anything they've been involved in that I didn't fall head-over-heels for. Below are a couple of releases I've been slow in getting to. One is a 7" lathe cut of Virginia Genta on solo amplified sopranino saxophone from Relative Pitch records and the other a limited edition CDR of their trio with Brandon Lopez on their own Troglosound imprint. I've been blown away by both of these releases and am certain after listening to these against their prior work that the Jooklos are still steeply ascending and nowhere near their high water mark.

Virginia Genta - Amplified Sopranino Sax (Relative Pitch, 2019) *****

This latest solo outing from the esteemed saxophonist Virginia Genta comes lathe cut into a jagged square of plexiglass from Relative Pitch records. Her third solo release after 2012's ultra limited edition "Tenor" and 2016's excellent " Rough Enough " finds her again making an all-to-brief 7" statement, this time on amplified sopranino saxophone. I never actually saw this pop up on Relative Pitch's website but as of this writing there are still affordable copies available on Discogs. Genta has really developed as a player since her beginnings. Initially noted for her immense power and expressiveness this single documents her growth as a technician, showing off her circular breathing prowess and hypersonic fingerwork. As if that weren't enough she goes amplified here, adding an overdriven cutting-edge to her tempest.

The record absolutely howls from the drop of the needle and never lets up. Genta weaves together lightning fast fundamentals, overtones, quarter notes, and feedback into an organic, albeit extraordinarily intense, sonic tapestry. The two roughly three minute tracks elicit a wild mix of touchstones, ranging from straight horn giants like Evan Parker and John Butcher to the speed metal soloing of Trey Azagthoth. This speed makes it somewhat overwhelming on first listen, like sticking your head out the window of a speeding vehicle and trying to catch your breath. But soon the logic takes form and the pieces inherit a strange beauty imbued by their intensity. The key is to let it wash over you, to concede to the currents and let them take you where they may. Fantastic.

Jooklo Trio - It Is What It Is (Troglosound, 2019) ****1/2

Recorded at GSI Studios in Manhattan at the end of August, 2018, this limited edition CDR captures what is sure to become a legendary coupling. Genta and her long-time-partner-in-crime David Vanzan plus one Brandon Lopez, all amasse under the moniker Jooklo Trio. As you can imagine the meeting plays out like a stellar collision, their sonic masses caught in an accelerating spiral and merged in a blast of power and intensity. Amplification, feedback, and distortion play a big part here, adding oxygen to the fire and making it roar with a white-hot blast furnace of free-jazz-punk energy. Lopez's sledgehammer bass playing is saturated in fuzz, and made all the more crushing by Vanzan's energetic avalanche of percussion. Genta's amplified tenor and sopranino saxophones light up their suffocating murk like rooster tails of sparks flying off the grinding wheel.

"Last Parasites" builds a foundation of snarling bass and hyperactive drums that Genta laces with shrieking feedback and reedy guitar-esque runs. On "Cripple Eye" Genta switches to tenor, squealing and barking amid Vanzan's explosive percussion and Lopez's slinky bass crunch. "Toxic Spit" continues the onslaught, with the trio sounding like Full Blast on steroids. Vanzan is such an under-rated drummer, and here he pushes the other players into the red with his raw energy. Lopez fits right in with the duo, and you can hear him and Genta throttling with the surges of percussion. "Smile of Insanity" might be the harshest piece on the album, with Genta peeling the paint off the walls in an almost unbroken narrative of respiratory aggression. On the fantastically titled "Trash Over Rice" the bass throbs within a web of death metal percussion. The din is punctuated with ecstatic banshee howling. The final track, "Shitty Kid" is manic with an incomprehensible energy given the intensity of the preceding tracks. Genta blows piercing serpentine lines in ceaseless variations, beckoning the cosmos with her purifying fire. Epic.