AMN Reviews: Brandon Seabrook’s Needle Driver – Needle Driver (2017; Nefarious Industries)

Guitar virtuoso Brandon Seabrook is back with the first release from his power trio Needle Driver. This self-titled EP includes Allison Miller on drums (you may know her from her solo efforts as well as stints on Late Night with Seth Meyers) and Johnny Deblase (you may know him as the bassist of avant-math-rock group Zevious). Perhaps Zevious is the best point of reference for Needle Driver, as Seabrook and company provide five short bursts of energy, each featuring aggressive riffing, speed picking, and disjointed time changes. Particularly, Deblase and Seabrook’s lines are barely controlled chaos, with Miller doing her best to keep them rooted. The result involves massive walls of harmonic progressions made from thousands of individual notes. Still, one track, ventwhorerisin’, provides an extent of atmospherics to counterpoint the album’s otherwise all-out approach. On it, Seabrook crafts a brooding guitar soundscape in between pounding riffs.

Fans of the aforementioned Zevious, as well as Dillinger Escape Plan (minus vocals of course), Upsilon Acrux, and Ahleuchatistas will find a lot to like here. The album comes out October 27 on Nefarious Industries.

AMN Reviews: Matt Mitchell – A Pouting Grimace (2017; Pi Recordings)

Pianist Matt Mitchell has developed a reputation for playing with some of the most notable in jazz and improvised music: Tim Berne, John Hollenbeck, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Darius Jones, Dan Weiss, Anna Webber, Mario Pavone, and Steve Coleman among many others. He even had a stint with prog-rock group Thinking Plague. Perhaps that latter group, as well as label-mate Weiss, are appropriate jumping-off points to consider A Pouting Grimace.

His third effort on Pi Recordings (a label known for quality over quantity), the album features a 13-piece lineup (including Kate Gentile, Ches Smith, Dan Weiss, Anna Webber, Jon Irabagon, and Sara Schoenbeck) conducted by Tyshawn Sorey. I’ll admit a fondness for the big-band approach, which has been making something of a comeback lately with superb recent releases from Weiss, Anthony Braxton, Darcy James Argue, Taylor Ho Bynum, and Nathan Hubbard. But unlike the swing-oriented large ensembles of the past, Mitchell joins his contemporaries in offering a knotty, complex set of tracks with more than a few nods to modern classical, as well as jazz.

For instance, brim is a nearly 7-minute romp through a labyrinthine and shifting theme, reminiscent of Terry Riley rather than Ellington. Despite an ostensibly minimalist structure (the repetitions are apparent though variations thereof abound), the mere fact that the entire ensemble contributes their own distinct patterns sets Mitchell’s compositional approach apart. That, and a few free-jazz sounding breaks to release built-up tension. On the other hand, gluts features Mitchell leading a traditional piano trio playing markedly non-traditional music. At the halfway point, the track shifts to a woodwind interlude, followed by a finale that combines both lineups.

Another representative offering is heft, only slightly over 4 minutes in length, but moving from a dramatic, bassy opening to a controlled sax-blowout to a reprise of the opening theme. Between the longer tracks are a handful of shorter pieces, from 15 seconds to almost two minutes, which feature Mitchell mostly unaccompanied on synth and electronics.

A Pouting Grimace is a dense, information-rich exploration that will keep the listener engaged through multiple sittings. There is a lot to unpack in this album-of-the-year candidate.

The Bridge #9 on Tour in the U.S. Midwest

EPIPHANY [The Bridge #9]

Mike Ladd – improvised poetry/lyrics, EMS Synthi
Mankwe Ndosi – voice, poetry, story, texture
Sylvain Kassap – clarinets, electronics
Dana Hall – drums, cymbals

Concert dates :

10/30 — IceHouse, Minneapolis, MN
feat. guest Douglas R. Ewart (woodwinds)

11/01 — Doug Fogelson Studio
celebrating Samain

11/02 — Elastic Arts
Improvised Music Series
feat members of Asian Improv aRts

11/03 — DuSable Museum
concert for the opening of visual artist Fabiola Jean-Louis’
“Rewriting History: Paper Gowns and Photographies”

11/04 — American Indian Center
The Bridge to Native Chicago – part 3

10/05 — Woodland Pattern, Milwaukee, WI
Alternating Currents Music Series

11/06 — Elastic Arts
Anagram Music Series
Set 1: Mike Ladd & Mankwe Ndosi + Damon Locks (voice, samples, electronics) & Wayne Montana (bass)
Set 2: Sylvain Kassap & Dana Hall + Nick Mazzarella (alto saxophone) & Larry Sommers (bass)

11/07 — The Promontory
double bill with band TBA

11/08 — Constellation

11/10 — The Logan Center for the Arts
followed by a discussion and Q&A

11/11 — Corbett vs Dempsey
Mike Ladd solo

11/11 — ProMusica
live public recording

11/12 — Diasporal Rhythms
noon performance

11/12 — The Stony Island Arts Bank
feat. guests Yaw Agyeman & Gira Donahee

11/12 — Co-Prosperity Sphere
feat guest TBA

11/14 — The Whistler
feat guests TBA

11/16 — Krannaert Art Museum, Urbana, IL
Sudden Sound Series

The Roulette in October

Source: New York’s Roulette.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2017 @ 8:00 PM
Lunar Eclipse by RE is an interactive audiovisual performance within an monumental inflatable dome sculpture.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2017 @ 8:00 PM
Interpretations presents trombonist Steve Swell and accordionist Eva Zöllner.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2017 @ 8:00 PM
Immortal Obsolescence is a compositions series for improvisation inspired by photographic images of Venezuelan artist Carolina Muñoz.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 11, 2017 @ 8:00 PM
Ches Smith debuts 3 new pieces that explore orchestrational commonalities and incongruences among acoustic and electronic sounds.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 12, 2017 @ 8:00 PM
Lisa Mezzacappa presents Glorious Ravage, an evening-length song cycle inspired by female explorers.

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 15, 2017 @ 8:00 PM
The opening night of Austrian Cultural Forum New York’s annual festival of music, visual media and aesthetic dialogue.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2017 @ 8:00 PM
Hallucinations for Keyboard and Electronics are pieces influenced by states of altered consciousness & their effect on musical processes.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 19, 2017 @ 8:00 PM
String quartet Brooklyn Rider presents five new works influenced by Bach, Cage, Zorn, Xenakis, Minor White, and beyond.