Thursday, November 13, 2008

Butcher/Muller/van der Schyff - Way Out Northwest

Butcher/Muller/van der Schyff
Way Out Northwest
(03.2008, Drip Audio)
File Under = Out-there jazz

Way Out Northwest is definitely not for everyone. In fact, I am still figuring out if it is for me. So why am I posting on some obscure record without coming to a clean consensus about it? Well, probably because it is one of the more compelling, destabilizing and exciting things I’ve heard all year. For some reason I keep coming back to it despite the fact that my experiences have ranged from wide-eyed adoration to blunt confusion and annoyance. It is a difficult album to get one’s head around, but on the occasions when the elasticity of my head proves extensive, it is also one of the more enjoyable pieces of abstract-anything I’ve been listening to. It’s just out there, “way out” there. Rooted in jazz, Butcher, Muller and van der Schyff (none of whom I am super familiar with) simply go a little haywire, turning their improv away from natural grooves or musical touchstones like melody and time structures, opting instead to amble along like a psychotic animal suffering from the post traumatic effects of electric shock therapy. So, yeah, turns out that I am kind of into that…I guess. Actually, I am not really into that. I guess that's the oddity. Way Out Northwest plays with your head, alternately convincing you and then dissuading from agreeing with it or liking it or feeling like you are that psychotic animal. You can see how it would be - at the very least - intriguing. In practice it extends far beyond intrigue. With just a saxophone, contrabass and drums, this trio performs an aural exorcism of monstrous proportions. This is avant free-jazz on the edge, teetering towards a free fall. For those who find themselves up to it – it’s pretty exhilarating.

-Mr. Thistle


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