Ross Hammond – A Bright Light (2022; Full Spectrum)
On A Bright Light, guitarist Ross Hammond explores western and blues inflected melancholic improv on the lap steel. Consisting of two 15-minute tracks with a consistent sound and feel, Hammond once again proves that he is one of the more underrated modern guitar-slingers, whether solo or in a collaborative setting. Recorded during pandemic isolation, Hammond employs slides and twisted notes to respond aptly to the darkness of a time the world seemed to be falling apart – though with hints of optimism here and there.
Peter Brötzmann / Heather Leigh / Fred Lonberg-Holm – Naked Nudes (2023; TROST)
For this semi-redundantly titled album, longtime collaborators Brötzmann (sax) and Leigh (pedal steel) join with versatile bassist Lonberg-Holm to produce a set of textural improvisations. Brötzmann’s wails are only mildly tempered and turn toward the melodic from time to time. But the main point of interest is how his lines dovetail with the extended techniques of Leigh and Lonberg-Holm. Their contributions are drone-oriented rather than strictly harmonic, though roughly-hewn and often twisted. This makes for an engaging 39 minutes of exploration.
Liturgy – Origin of the Alimonies (2020; Bandcamp)
Having missed Liturgy at Big Ears due to scheduling conflicts, I took a listen to this album shortly thereafter. My initial intrigue was that Liturgy is billed as a black metal band, but guest musicians included a string quartet, brass, reed, piano, and harp. Furthermore, these guests include Nate Wooley, James Ilgenfritz, and Eric Wubbels from the New York experimental scene. Also, Nick Didkovsky’s son, Leo, is the drummer. In any event, Origin of the Alimonies is a rather singular release with heavy post-rock / thrash guitars, growled vocals, and these other instruments performing sophisticated compositions that are subject to occasional studio manipulation. While some pieces are clearly metal, others are classically-based and many combine elements of both. So-called “progressive metal” can take numerous forms, but Liturgy is on its own plane.