This is a curious release, at least due to the expanse of styles represented herein. External Link begins with complex prog-rock featuring disjointed rhythms and evolves through phases of free improv, noise, and post-rock. Featuring veterans Jason Stein on bass clarinet, Shane Parish on guitars, and Danny Piechocki on drums, this unusual lineup manages to be both tight and loose through eleven tracks of varying lengths.
Case in point, Stag opens things up with Parish and Piechocki setting down disjointed themes that land somewhere between toned-down technical metal and math rock while Stein improvises atop, generously employing unconventional soundings. Eventually, the track devolves into more open-ended playing from all three, bordering on the chaotic but still with discernable structure. In contrast, Visiting Your Ghost Bike centers around Piechocki’s busy drumming with Parish and Stein heading off in different directions with their respective extemporizations. The short Ground is a textural freely-improvised piece with a deliberate pace. RE: resembles post-rock strumming but with skittering percussion and subtle wails from Stein.
Some might find the lack of a distinctive direction throughout the album to be distracting, but when approached with the right frame of mind it is quite exhilarating. Parish, Stein, and Piechocki are taking us on a journey, and all we need to do is sit back and enjoy the adventure.
External Link was released digitally and on cassette on November 5 by Chicago’s Trouble In Mind Records.