Debut release – issued over a year ago, but WTF – for a hard-hitting quartet formed by Arrington de Dionyso (bass and contralto clarinet), Thollem McDonas (piano), John Niekrasz (drums) and Gregg Skloff (amplified upright bass). “All pieces recorded as improvised according to the conceptual direction of Arrington de Dionyso”, the cover says. The latter’s feverishly vibrant utterances gasp and sizzle in a kind of anti-technical way, as if he preferred his own guts to speak in lieu of the instrument. A courageous choice, given the man’s evident facility. But there’s actually no person in charge here: this is a collective (with a capital C) effort mostly feeding on outrageous conflagrations, memorable torments destined to rape the silken ears of those who usually look for easy ways out when caught up with overly imaginative (for their mind) recordings.
One of the first thoughts during the initial spin was “McDonas at his most Cecil Taylor-esque”, therefore I was happy to read about the same reference at the very beginning of David Keenan’s liners. It’s called “solidarity among writers”. The pianist provides mercurial harmonic shifts, autistic ostinatos and characteristically uncomfortable digital activity as per the norm: still, he occasionally stops (the others do so, too…) and contemplates the past or – ironically – quotes popular styles despite the fact that there is havoc around. The sound of Skloff’s valve-augmented groans puts its box’s timbre in an alley situated halfway through William Parker Drive and Jack Bruce Street, the unquestioning enthusiasm and raging cantankerousness of Niekrasz furnishing the music with a supplementary dose of fickleness that, on the other hand, makes the sonic mass appear even more unyielding. When the boys decide to go pedal-to-the-metal, they reveal themselves to be punker than me (…than Sid Vicious for sure). Great record: play loud, put up the shutters, get wall-knocked by the neighbours, crash your car against a barrier if you are stupid enough to listen to this while driving. Keep living.