Friday, February 25, 2011

Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges (2011)


For fans of: Supersilent, Land of Kush, Barry Guy

Colin Stetson uses a bass saxophone in a way somewhat similar to Albert Ayler on Spiritual Unity, although this is 2011, and the music here is far from mid-60s avant-free jazz. There's a lot of extra-saxular sound, not in the form of drums or piano, but in the form of noisy electronics (I think) and vocals provided by artists such as Laurie Anderson. Most of the tracks put Stetson's incredible sax playing to the front, but several of them are more like electronic drones with interesting layers and rhythms. I don't think I've ever heard anything quite like this album, and while my jaunts into experimental music often leave me uninterested, this one does not. If you enjoy both avant-jazz and noisy modern electronic music, this is highly recommended. - Matthew Foster

"Colin Stetson's 2008 album New History Warfare, Vol. 1 showcased the saxophonist/multi-reedist's phenomenal multiphonic improvisation style and circular breathing technique. Released in 2011, New History Warfare, Vol. 2: Judges features a similar exploratory solo saxophone approach that is nothing short of mind-blowing. Stetson uses the circular breathing style, recorded in single takes and occasionally with overdubs, to create atmospheric and hypnotic loops that sound like layered analog keyboards more than saxophones. In that sense, the tracks here often bring to mind something along the lines of Jean Michel Jarre crossed with Roscoe Mitchell. These tracks allow Stetson to skronk and pulse, wheeze and then soar with white jet-engine noise that is never purposeless and always controlled. Also featured here are a few spoken word sections with avant-garde icon Laurie Anderson -- including the poetic "A Dream of Water" -- that lend a cinematic quality to the proceedings. Elsewhere, vocalist Shara Worden delivers a haunting lead on the spiritual "Lord I Just Can't Keep from Crying Sometimes." Primarily, however, it is Stetson's transcendent and muscular ability to layer sound, breath, and rhythm in a meditative compositional style that sticks with you long after Judges is over." - AMG

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