AMN Reviews: Björkenheim / Sopko / James / Laswell / Yamaki – Inaugural Sound Clash (For the 2 Americas) (2017; M.O.D. Technologies)

A trio of guitarists, Raoul Björkenheim, Mike Sopko, and Dominic James, join New York mainstay Bill Laswell and drummer Hideo Yamaki on this hour-long jam session. Recorded on January 20th of this year at John Zorn‘s Stone, Inaugural Sound Clash clearly refers to the inauguration that took place earlier that day (especially with its subtitle “Against the Empire of Alternative Facts”).

Despite appearing to be a protest album when judged by its cover, the recording itself does not come across as overtly angry. Instead, the trio of guitarists play in a blues-rock style, trading riffs and solos. When one of them takes the lead, the others add textures in the background. Laswell contributes his trademark smooth and echoing bass lines, while Yamaki provides a variety of unusual but steady beats for the others to work off of.

Consisting of one 56-minute track, there is plenty of room for all of the contributors to stretch out. Thus, in addition to the more intensive soloing and chording, the quintet takes it down from time to time, exploring tempos and atmospherics. But this is not free improv – there is ample structure, a reprise or two, and the rhythmic elements are familiar enough for Inaugural Sound Clash to have a broad appeal.

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