AMN Reviews: Merzbow / Mats Gustafsson / Balazs Pandi / Thurston Moore – Cuts of Guilt, Cuts Deeper (2015; Rare Noise Records)

CUTSOFGUILT_artworkNot often does a release promoted as “mind-blowing” live up to the hype. But don’t put it past the quartet of Merzbow, Mats Gustafsson, Balazs Pandi, and Thurston Moore to disappoint in any of their efforts, much less this one. A veritable supergroup, this latest “Cuts” project tops out at 80 minutes of improvised, foundation-shaking noise.

A followup to the 2013 trio release from Merzbow, Gustafsson, and Pandi (see our review here), the incorporation of Moore adds a whole new dimension to the group’s sound. In addition to Gustafsson’s wailing, which often merges indecipherably with Merzbow’s walls of sound, Moore adds distorted speed-picking and atmospherics to the mix. Pandi proves once again to the be the perfect drummer for this unique type of free improvisation, as he uses his drum kit to provide an ominous pounding that shifts with the thick, twisting structures produced by the other three.

IMG_1045 copyThis sort of music does is not amenable to written or verbal description, as it is a collage from which the contribution of individual instruments are difficult to discern. Likewise, describing each track individually is not only difficult, but probably misses the point. Cuts is a textural project, an amalgam of pulsating fields that goes beyond feedback and dissonance. Gustafsson aptly described the recording as “a wall of noise-poetry with layers and perspectives changing all the time.”

Call it what you want – extreme noise, industro-metal, far-flung free-jazz – labels are marginally helpful. Regardless of categorization, or the lack thereof, these four not-so-gentle men have produced an early candidate for album of the year.

Creative Music in DC

Sunday, March 8 @ 8:00PM
William Hooker Trio
Beginning in the mid-seventies, William Hooker’s body of work defines him as one of the most important composers and performers in jazz. He has fielded a wide variety of ensembles in an incredibly diverse array of configurations and concepts. Each collaboration has brought a serious investigation of his compositional agenda and the science of the modern drum kit. His work is frequently grounded in a narrative context. Whether set against a silent film or anchored by a poetic theme, Hooker brings dramatic tension and human warmth to avant-garde jazz. His ability to find fertile ground for moving music in a variety of settings that obliterate genre distinctions offers a much-needed statement of social optimism in the arts. He will be joined by DC Creative Music stalwarts, guitarist Anthony Pirog and bassist Luke Stewart.
Admission $10
Twins Jazz
1344 U Street NW
Located off the corner of 14th and U Streets NW

Sunday, March 8 @ 7:00PM
CapitalBop’s Traveling Loft
Lafayette Gilchrist’s New Volcanoes: The Go-Go Suite :: Allyn Johnson Trio
One of the most powerful piano players to come out of Washington, D.C. in the past half-century is Lafayette Gilchrist. His 2014 album The Go-Go Suite, was recorded with his nine-piece band The New Volcanoes. This is their first appearance in DC. Among pianists still living in D.C., it’s hard for anyone to compete with Allyn Johnson. A true master of his instrument, and a deep knowledge and respect for the Music, he is a wonder of a musician.
Admission $10adv/$15door
The Dance Institute
3400 14th Street NW
Located on the corner of 14th and Monroe Streets NW

Sunday, March 17 @ 8:00PM
Washington Women in Jazz
Janel Leppin’s Ensemble Volcanic Ash
For truly one of the hardest working Creative Musicians in DC, Janel Leppin’s Ensemble Volcanic Ash marks only one chapter in the body of work we have come to expect from her. Her originality has been tested and proven, as has her compositional and technical prowess, through years of collaboration and study with musical masters. In addition to Janel and Anthony, the critically acclaimed duo, she has toured with Kyp Malone (TV on the Radio), collaborated extensively with Susan Alcorn (Baltimore pedal steel), and studied Indian and Persian classical music with some of the masters of those traditions. She is also a member of Stylus, a record player ensemble. All of her influences and experiences culminate into being one of the most unique young cellists in music today.
Admission $15
Union Arts DC
411 New York Ave NE
Enter through the loading dock off the corner of 4th and Penn Street NE

Every 2nd Sunday of the Month
CapitalBop’s DC Jazz Loft
The DC Jazz Loft showcases and stimulates the talent and forward-focused creative thought that is occurring in the DC Jazz community. On the second Sunday of every month, at Union Arts DC, a variety of idioms and approaches to Jazz are presented by members of the diverse local scene.
Union Arts DC
411 New York Ave NE
Enter through the loading dock off the corner of 4th and Penn Street NE

50 Years On, Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians Influences Jazz

English: Muhal Richard Abrams, moers festival 2009
Muhal Richard Abrams


Muhal Richard Abrams, the restlessly inventive pianist and composer, is a next-step thinker, not the type to rhapsodize about the past. But he has lately found cause to reflect on a time, 50 years ago on the South Side of Chicago, when he began to mobilize his peers in pursuit of originality and self-determination, ending up with a collective called the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians.

Bill Shute And His Experimental Label Kendra Steiner Editions

Just when you think you’ve heard of all of the experimental labels out there, you realize that you’re just scratching the surface. Case in point from the San Antonio Current:

Since 2006, Bill Shute has run Kendra Steiner Editions at an astonishingly low cost, hugging the holy zero at every turn. The label’s site ( is without frill, a showcase for its albums and chapbooks available only offline. Over the past nine years, Shute has pressed and published nearly 300 editions of avant-garde music and poetry from his home base in San Antonio.

DMG Newsletter March 6th, 2015

Ernst Reijseger, Moers Festival 2007
Ernst Reijseger

From DMG:

Peter Blegvad‘s Kew-Rhone Book! Tisziji Munoz/John Medeski Quartet! 7 + 4 from Clean Feed: Chris Lightcap‘s Big Mouth! Mario Pavone/Matt Mitchell/Tyshawn Sorey! Elliott Sharp Octal 3! I Never MetaGuitar Three: John King/Sandy Ewen/Ander Nilsson/Brandon Seabrook..!

Pascal Niggenkemper Solo! Eve Risser Solo Piano! Rudresh Mahanthappa’s Bird Calls! Ernst Reijseger! Luc Ex/Ingrid Laubrock/Ab Baars/Hamid Drake! Two from the Ab Baars Trio! Sarah Peebles & Evan Parker! Billy Mintz Double Band! Roberta Piket Solo! Free Phillip Johnston CD!

Joel Futterman Solo Piano 2 CD Set! Yoshi Fruchter’s Schizophonia! Loren Connors “My Brooklyn”! Liberation Music: Spiritual Jazz! Bill Orcut! Cornelius Cardew! Terry Riley! Gil Evans & More!


The DMG Free In-Store Music Schedule Continues with:

Sunday, March 8th Double-Header:

Sunday, March 15th Double-Header:

Sunday, March 22nd – Special Early Set:
6pm: STEVE SWELL – Solo Trombone Set!

Sunday, March 29th Double-Header:
6pm: ANDREW D’ANGELO – Solo Alto Sax!
7pm: MARCO CAPPELLI – Solo Guitar!