Tuesday, March 15, 2022

M.A.N., B.A.N. - M.A.N. - B.A.N. (Dropa Disc, 2021) ****½

By Martin Schray

The last real festival I attended was Summer Bummer in Antwerp/Belgium in 2019. I’ve never been to the city before and since it was in late August I combined a nice city holiday with some good music. The main reason why I wanted to go to the festival was the fact that I had the chance to see Peter Brötzmann performing with Fred Van Hove, I guessed that this might be for the last time (unfortunately, I was right, as Van Hove recently passed away). But there were also two promising trios with Thurston Moore (guitar), Farida Amadou (electric bass) and Steve Noble (drums) on one night, and on the following one it was Amadou and Noble with Brötzmann (saxes, clarinet, tarogato). Brötzmann, Moore and Noble are well-known, but frankly speaking, I had no idea who the woman on the bass was.

Farida Amadou is a self-taught musician, she comes from Liège/Belgium and treats her instrument rather like an electric guitar. Stylistically, she plays almost everything from blues to free jazz and hiphop. She started to get interested in improvised music in 2013, when she met the members of L'Oeil Kollectif and when she began to play with drummer Tom Malmendier, with whom she formed the duo Nystagmus. Since 2014, she has played with many musicians (including US ex-pats) throughout Europe: Linda Sharrock, Balasz Pandi, Jasper Stadhouders, Eve Risser, Mette Rasmussen, Chris Pitsiokos, Alex Ward, etc. In February 2018, she also joined the punk/noise band Cocaine Piss.

When she hit the stage at festival she immediately knocked me out, especially her musical understanding with drummer Steve Noble, with whom she has had a duo project since May 2018. It was incredible. A possible reason for this blind, somnambulistically secure musical understanding might be the fact that Noble also started his musical career with alternative music, namely with Rip, Rig and Panic in the 1980s. More impressive even was the way Amadou held her own against these alpha dogs.

The album now gives us the opportunity to hear both concerts again, an absolute stroke of luck. One gets the impression that Last Exit has been resurrected, the free rock super group from the early 1980s with Brötzmann, Sonny Sharrock, Bill Laswell and Ronald Shannon Jackson - not as a quartet though, but as two trios. Amadou is a main reason in making the music reminiscent of them, because her playing in some passages actually recalls Laswell's gritty bass dubs, but then again she attacks her instrument in a brutal manner. The first part of the album, M.A.N. (the letters stand for the musicians’ last names respectively), is an insane energy attack and especially on the second side of the record Noble drives his two comrades-in-arms forward with a concrete groove on the toms and the two of them let the feedbacks and loops buzz over it. And in combination with Brötzmann? Amadou can even elicit new facets from the old warhorse’s music, even if he largely reels off the old familiar fireworks of his repertoire of recurring riffs. However, he seems to draw new strength from the unfamiliar input by Amadou, the joy of playing is always palpable. The album in a nutshell: Imagine your craziest idea of alternative freely improvised hard rock and you are close.

M.A.N. - B.A.N. is available on double vinyl only.

You can listen to some music here: https://soundinmotion.be/product/man_ban/

1 comment:

Stefan Lingg said...

Like the author I was also lucky enough to attend this festival (and visit Antwerp for the first time then) and am glad that Dropa Disc decided to release these recordings. For those interested in Farida Amadou and her incredible work, I'd like to recommend another album, in this case together with Liz Kosack and Dag Magnus Narvesen: Circuit. Available here: https://patterndissection.bandcamp.com/album/circuit

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