AMN Reviews: Lee Ranaldo / Jim Jarmusch / Marc Urselli / Balázs Pándi – s/t (2019; Trost Records)

This rather interesting combination of artists effectively functions as a thinking person’s jam session. Ranaldo, well-known as the guitarist of Sonic Youth, teams with film-maker and guitarist Jarmusch (yes, the same Jim Jarmusch who wrote and directed the current zombie comedy The Dead Don’t Die), bassist and producer Urselli (a long-time John Zorn collaborator), and the all-around amazing percussionist Pándi. The resulting self-titled live-in-the-studio recording consists of five largely improvised tracks, the longest coming in around 20 minutes.

Ranaldo and Jarmusch contribute jangly, spacious guitar parts with effects and occasional synth. Urselli’s bass lines are low-frequency and largely understated. Pándi, on the other hand, is what you would expect if you are familiar with his work – non-stop action that rarely breaks into a discernable rhythm but also does not distract from his bandmates.

This category-defying album has at least some feel in common with the more introspective early Krautrock (think Popol Vuh), drone music, and a taste of Sonic Youth due to Ranaldo’s distinctive style. But despite its spontaneous nature, the album resembles a soundtrack where atmosphere and abstract structures are more important than melody or harmony.

Brilliant stuff indeed.