AMN Reviews

AMN Reviews: Unconscious Collective – Pleistocene Moon (2014; Tofu Carnage)

a2180120584_2Unconscious Collective is a Dallas-based power trio offering slabs of hard-rock inflected jazz improvisation. The group consists of Gregg Prickett on guitar, flute, and effects, Aaron Gonzalez on bass and mellotron, and Stefan Gonzalez on drums. The latter two are brothers, and sons of underated free-jazz trumpeter Dennis Gonzalez. Pleistocene Moon, a double album, is their second release.

Given the length and diversity of this recording, it is difficult to categorize or pigeon-hole. The self-titled opening track would be at home on a progressive rock album, as it begins and ends with primordial animal cries, and features mellotron throughout.  Tribe Apini follows up with a dark fusion approach, relying heavily on creative guitar work, while Requiem for Biodiversity takes a free-jazz angle, featuring a guest saxophone player interweaving lines and howls over guitar work from Prickett that almost evokes Derek Bailey.

As one might imagine from the above description, the range of styles present on this offering is overwhelming, and leads to an overall disjoint feel. At moments, one can hear the influence of Black Sabbath, King Crimson, John Zorn, and Art Ensemble of Chicago, just to name a few. For instance, in the second half of the album, Is the Spine the Dividing Line includes riffing bass lines, with deft fretwork in and around. The next track, Methane Rising, is more of a free-form jam session with squealing sax returning to the mix. The final track, Greedy Tongues, is a wall of guitar noise and feedback, amongst tribal elements.

Thus, rather than relying on just a raw guitar power trio methodology, Unconscious Collective throws in a few surprises, including the sax, as well as interludes with light chants, maracas or shakers. Additionally, the Gonzalez brothers have been playing together for so long, their rhythm section is superlatively tight and intuitive.

Ranging from six to twelve minutes, the eight tracks of Pleistocene Moon provide a brilliant example of what is possible in a modern guitar trio, with a little help from a few additional instruments.  Not exactly retro, but with an eye on taking the heavy rock of the 70s in new directions, Unconscious Collective have a winner on their hands.

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