AMN Reviews: Brandon Seabrook – Die Trommel Fatale (2017; New Atlantis Records)

Even amongst types of music that are often referred to as “unclassifiable,” there occasionally comes a release that is a literal representation of that term. Brandon Seabrook has been kicking around the New York scene for years, collaborating with Anthony Braxton, Elliot Sharp, Ches Smith, Toby Driver, Allison Miller, and others. While known as a purveyor of avant-banjo, he relies on his guitar and compositional skills for Die Trommel Fatale, his latest release as a leader. Joined by Chuck Bettis on voice and electronics, drummers Dave Treut and Sam Ospovat, Marika Hughes on cello, and Eivind Opsvik on bass, Seabrook powers through ten rhythmically angular and thematically frenzied tracks.

With a nod to the no-wave movement, The Flying Luttenbachers in particular, Seabrook and company also incorporate influences from (or at least similarities to) Euro post-punk (e.g., The Work) and Japan’s noise scene (e.g., Ruins). Front and center is the two-drummer assault, with each of Treut and Ospovat playing in diverging but complimentary directions. Seabrook adds staggered speed riffing to their frantic contributions. But the album also has a schizophrenic nature, in that several tracks employ Bettis, Hughes, and Opsvik to create haunting chamber atmospherics, over which Seabrook adds arpeggiated chords and Bettis offers shouted or chanted wordless vocals.

In sum, if you take punk-metal guitar and vocals with unconventional and aggressive percussion, all pulled off by conservatory-trained musicians also capable of free-improv blow outs, you still probably don’t quite get Die Trommel Fatale, but that’s not a bad place to start. An impressively weird release.

5049 Records Podcast Episode 118 – Jason Stein 

English: Jason Stein (bass clarinett) with Loc...

Source: 5049 Records.

Jason Stein is an exceptional bass clarinetist based in Chicago since 2005. He is originally from Long Island and has followed a most interesting and individual creative path. This interview took place at Jason’s home in Chicago this past May and covers a lot of ground, from his time living off the grid in Montana, to his early days in Chicago to his most recent run of shows, playing for 20,000 people at a time, opening for his young sister, comedian Amy Schumer.

Ken Vandermark Profiled

English: *description: Ken Vandermark photogra...

Source: Bandcamp Daily.

For more than two decades, the Chicago reedist, bandleader, and composer Ken Vandermark has served as something of a DIY icon, a fiercely independent musician pursuing improvisation with the same rigor and ferocity with which he conducts his own business. Chicago, of course, has a rich tradition of creative musicians taking charge of their affairs. In 1965, a group of iconoclastic, forward-looking musicians, including Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, and Roscoe Mitchell joined the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), taking charge of concert production and programming in order to have full, uncompromised control of their art. Vandermark, a Boston native who moved to Chicago in 1989, adapted many of those concepts for his own work in the early ‘90s, inspired as much by the punk ethos as the AACM’s model. The self-sufficient system he forged has not only fueled his own successes, but was crucial in reinvigorating avant-garde music in Chicago and abroad.

New World Records Releases

Source: New World Records.

John King: Free Palestine
Cornelius Dufallo, Jennifer Choi, violins; Ljova Zhurbin, viola; Yves Dharamraj, cello; with John King, oud*
Even before you’ve heard a single note of Free Palestine by the composer and instrumentalist John King (b. 1953), the work may well have made an impact for its title alone: a seeming reference to one of the more daunting, divisive sociopolitical conditions in modern global history.

Peter Garland: The Birthday Party
Aki Takahashi, piano
On first hearing, the piano music of Peter Garland (b. 1952) creates a feeling of dislocation, then astonishment: It is so very different from the contemporary concert music we are familiar with. The composer’s intent, his emotional directness is immediate – despite the unusual sound world and different sense of time that these pieces exhibit.



June 4, 2017
Thomas Helton, Jaimie Branch, Michael Evans, Downtown Music Gallery
Jaimie Branch Michael Evans Thomas Helton

June 4, 2017
Kalabalik, Downtown Music Gallery
Raoul Björkenheim Gerald Cleaver Anders Nilsson

June 2, 2017
Miriam Parker Dance, Judson Memorial Church
Miriam Parker

June 2, 2017
BassDrumBone, Judson Memorial Church
Ray Anderson Mark Helias Gerry Hemingway

June 2, 2017
Fred Moten Poetry, Judson Memorial Church
Fred Moten

June 2, 2017
Chicago Plan, Judson Memorial Church
Fred Lonberg-Holm Steve Swell Gebhard Ullmann Michael Zerang

June 2, 2017
Dave Burrell Quartet, Judson Memorial Church
Dave Burrell William Hooker Kidd Jordan William Parker

June 2, 2017
The Dream Book, Judson Memorial Church
Daniel Carter Dominic Duval Jr. Rosie Hertlein Joe McPhee Dom Minasi Larry Roland Jay Rosen