SANDY EWEN / DAMON SMITH / WEASEL WALTER – Sandy Ewen / Damon Smith / Weasel Walter


The first adjective that comes to mind while listening to the sonic fusillades fired by this trio is “succulent”. This happens when three hyperactive improvisers are determined in showing to the listener what’s inside their arsenal without restrictions, and – a sadly overlooked issue by myriads of warts-and-all manglers – choose to show the fruits of their sessions in a very high quality standard of recording detail, which surely helps in the comprehension of the procedures. The positive consequences are evident: one, almost 80 minutes of interaction (a duration that usually causes an “oh, no!” exclamation here) are gulped, digested and entirely assimilated with ease, with beneficial effects for the synapses. Two, our faith in the ability to being engrossed by the sheer quality of complicated instrumental activity is strengthened. Three, the possibilities of finding genuinely fresh-cut stuff in this field improve dramatically.

Sandy Ewen is a new name for this reviewer. A guitarist interested in extended techniques without exaggerating with the number of appliances employed to achieve her goals, she possesses admirable insight and definitely knows the value of discipline, even during sections that would suggest the opposite. Controlling feedback, cutting the strings with the pick, emitting chipmunk destruction by working the pickups, letting the involuntary noises stay where they aren’t supposed to be, making silence where silence is due. All of this, and much more, is a part of Ewen’s jargon. The physicality evoked by the socialization with Damon Smith’s 7-string bass and Weasel Walter’s ever-reproducing fractions of already disunited tempos on the drum set is nothing short of astounding, especially because there’s no interest whatsoever – particularly on Smith’s side – in keeping the activities confined into the usual timbral palette (certain arco flights in the overacute area of that beast would make many chugging idiots armed with Strats envious). Attempting to anticipate Walter’s moves is like trying one of those “test-your-reflex” games: you never know what’s next and just get ready to react, systematically beaten by the (human) machine.

There’s no hint of impracticality around, though the action is firmly directed to what the press release rightly calls “structural disruption”. Everything transmits consistency, dynamic cognition and will of concretely translating instantaneous concepts into something worthy of being remembered (and replayed). If label-less music gifted with heart and brain is all you need, look no further.

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