AMN Reviews: Jack ‘O The Clock – Witness (2019; Geomancy Records)

After the second track of Witness, the new live album from veteran prog / folk / classical / weird rock band Jack O’ The Clock, vocalist Damon Waitkus tells the audience that the previous song was “about a miserable old man dying.” He goes on to add that at a previous show “every song in the whole setlist was about an old man dying.” That brief tongue-in-cheek moment represents much of what Jack O’ The Clock is about – melancholy lyrics capturing slices of decaying Americana accentuated by chamber rock.  Labyrinthine, dueling melodies attach themselves to your emotions like ivy slowly taking over the side of an old house.

In addition to Waitkus on guitar and hammer dulcimer, the group includes its core lineup of Emily Packard on violin, Kate McLoughlin on bassoon and backing vocals, Jason Hoopes on bass and backing vocals, and Jordan Glenn on drums, vibes, and accordion.  The album was recorded in 2017 at the SeaProg Festival in Seattle.

Before listening, one of the first things I wondered – with some trepidation – was how Jack O’ The Clock could present their elaborately recorded and layered studio material in a live setting.  After all, the five aforementioned members often played many more instruments and were frequently accompanied by a small chamber orchestra of other players.  But Waitkus and company wisely rearranged their pieces to fit the capabilities of live lineup, reworking some songs and combining others into longer pieces. Also, the selections are some of the more energetic pieces from their last two albums (Repetitions of the Old City I & II). While I would have wished for more from All My Friends (their 2013 release for which I have an irrational passion), Witness includes brilliantly-executed long instrumental breaks as well as atmospheric folk-ish moments and vocally-oriented pieces sprinkled with sadness. The result is more than satisfying.

By distilling their work over the last several years to its core and then building anew on top of that, Jack O’ The Clock has managed to produce an indispensable live recording that has remarkably little redundancy when compared to the corresponding studio recordings. Witness also marks the end of an era for the group – going forward, this particular lineup will be logistically difficult to put together in a live format. Nonetheless, they will continue to expand their studio offerings, which is more than enough of a consolation prize.

Toneshift Reviews 

Source: Toneshift.

Leichenschrei by SPK (re-edition)

Shades by Nathan Moody

One Instrument Sessions by Fahmi Mursyid

Life in a Shell by yolabmi

Field Whispers (Into The Crystal Palace) by Fire-Toolz

Viscous Cotton by Botho Cochois

Zomia by Futurebum

Configurations by Shasta Cults

In Tenebris Ratione Organi by Michael Bonaventure

Chicago Scene: September 14-21, 2019

This is a weekly overview of live avant performances in the Chicago area. Contact us if you’d like your shows listed.

Saturday, September 14th 2019

9:00PM at the Hungry Brain, 2319 W Belmont ($10) (wheelchair-accessible)
Thollem McDonas, Matthew Lux, Avreeayl Ra

Sunday, September 15th 2019

7:00PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western
World Music Festival Chicago
Girma Bèyènè and Akalé Wubé
Kahil El’Zabar’s Ethnic Heritage Ensemble with special guest Tiokwe Sehume
7:00PM at Woodland Pattern, 720 E Locust, Milwaukee WI, 414.263.5001 ($6-$8)
Silvia Bolognesi Solo
Silvia Bolognesi, Russ Johnson

7:30PM at The Boxcar, 1113 W Berwyn, 773.649.3186
Christopher Dammann, Mabel Kwan, Avreeayl Ra

Monday, September 16th 2019

7:30PM at Experimental Sound Studio, 5925 N Ravenswood, 773.769.1069 ($10-$8) (wheelchair-accessible)
Myra Melford

9:00PM at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W Belmont, 773.281.4444
Extraordinary Popular Delusions : Jim Baker, Mars Williams, Brian Sandstrom, Steve Hunt

Tuesday, September 17th 2019

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($12)
Invisible Bird : Shane Endsley, Dave Devine, Scott Amendola
Dave Miller

Wednesday, September 18th 2019

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($15-$12)
Ralph Alessi & This Against That, with Andy Milne, Jon Irabagon, Drew Gress, Mark Ferber

Thursday, September 19th 2019

7:00PM at Woodland Pattern, 720 E Locust, Milwaukee WI, 414.263.5001 ($6)
Hal Rammel, Jay Mollerskov
Tim Daisy

Friday, September 20th 2019

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($18-$15)
Stephan Crump’s Rosetta Trio with Liberty Ellman, Jamie Fox

Saturday, September 21st 2019

12:00PM-6:00PM in Hamilton Park, 513 W 72nd (Free)
20th Annual Englewood Jazz Festival
1:50PM Junius Paul Quartet with Corey Wilkes, Justin Dillard, Vincent Davis
2:55PM Englewood Soweto Exchange : Ernest Dawkins, Lesedi Ntsane, Alexis Lombre, Jeremiah Colllier, Brother El, Artemis
4:00PM Marquis Hill Velvet Lounge Legacy Ensemble, with Irvin Pierce, Norman Palm, Joshua Abrams, Justin Dillard, Isaiah Spenser
5:00PM Maurice Brown Quintet with Makaya McCraven, Irvin Pierce, Greg Spero, Junius Paul

8:00PM at Elastic, 3429 W Diversey, #208, 773.772.3616 ($20)
Afrofuturist Weekend Day 2
Elijah Jamal Asani, Angel Bat Dawid, Brandon Markell Holmes
Nicole Mitchell with Mankwe Ndosi, Darius Jones, Chris Williams, Angelica Sanchez, Tomeka Reid, Joshua Abrams, Avreeayl Ra — Xenogenesis Suite

8:30PM at Constellation, 3111 N Western ($20)
Steve Lehman Trio with Matt Brewer, Damion Reid

For more information, such as directions, as well as upcoming performances, see:

http://now-is.org/, http://www.ratchetmusic.com, http://www.mcachicago.org, http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/chicago_culturalcenterschedule.html, http://www.skylarkchicago.com, http://www.hideoutchicago.com, http://www.elasticrevolution.com, http://www.myopicbookstore.com/music.html, http://www.lampo.org, http://dalniente.com, http://iceorg.org/events/category/chicago, http://www.emptybottle.com/

Stephen Gosling Performing John Zorn in NY Reviewed

Source: The New York Times.

At the end of August, John Zorn’s record label, Tzadik, released “Encomia,” 43 minutes of mostly solo-piano music by Mr. Zorn, performed by Stephen Gosling. (He’s joined on one track by the violinist Chris Otto.)

So when Mr. Gosling came to the Miller Theater at Columbia University on Tuesday, for the first of the theater’s free early-evening “pop-up” concerts this season, you might have expected him to touch on at least one piece from “Encomia” — if only to promote the new release a bit.

He did not. Mostly because Mr. Zorn writes so quickly. Mr. Gosling was at the Miller to give the premiere of an even newer work for piano, “18 Studies From the Later Sketchbooks of J.M.W. Turner (1841-1845).”

Upcoming Bowerbird Shows

Source: Philapdelphia’s Bowerbird.

ERIC WUBBELS: IF AND ONLY IF
Modney, Roberts, Wubbels Trio
SEPTEMBER 18, 2019
UNIVERSITY LUTHERAN

LONNIE HOLLEY + MOOR MOTHER
With Nelson Patton
SEPTEMBER 22, 2019
HOLY APOSTLES AND THE MEDIATOR

GEORGE CRUMB: OUT OF DARKNESS
Arcana New Music Ensemble
OCTOBER 10, 2019
ANNENBERG CENTER, HAROLD PRINCE THEATER

GEORGE CRUMB: KOSMOS
Margaret Leng Tan & Adam Tendler
OCTOBER 11, 2019
ANNENBERG CENTER, HAROLD PRINCE THEATER

GEORGE CRUMB: BLACK ANGELS
Daedalus Quartet & Friends
OCTOBER 12, 2019
ANNENBERG CENTER, HAROLD PRINCE THEATER

LARAAJI
With Chris Powell
OCTOBER 18, 2019
THE ROTUNDA