Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Strictly For My Nerdz: Anthony Braxton and Wolf Eyes Collaborate At Victoriaville

If that headline means anything to you, you are no doubt confused. Although I may have recently mislead some into believing, if only for a moment, that a Lizzie McGuire-ized Neurosis joint was on the way, today I am straight-up forrealsing you. Actually, this news is already months old, but UN Spacy has been too plagued by questions of whether or not Jessica Simpson employs ass-padding to keep up with the arts. (Also, it'll be a few more days before WENN/IMDb hears about it.)

Incorporating elements of hardcore, industrial, ambient, and noise, the Wolf Eyes sound is generally described with words like "visceral," "torture," "violent," "hateful," "messy," "scary," and "evil." The band favors tampered or reconstructed noise-makers over conventional instruments. Sub Pop, who released the Ann Arbor trio's Burned Mind, characterizes their sound as "drastic fucking music." Anthony Braxton has been making records since the late-60s, ranging from entire albums of solo saxophone to ambitious pieces played simultaneously by four orchestras. He's known for a somewhat controversial composition style that involves graphed notations to indicate improvisational objectives. His music is often dismissed as dry and academic. All Music Guide says Braxton "might very well be jazz's last bona fide genius."

It all went down at the 22nd Victoriaville Musique Actuelle Festival, where Wolf Eyes surprised audiences by bringing Anthony Braxton onstage for a large portion of their set. Reportedly, Braxton became an instant fan of Wolf Eyes after a 2004 concert in Sweden. Though Braxton and Wolf Eyes share a fierce independent spirit and cult followings, the pairing of the stately improv theorist with the mace-and-chain-wielding authors of "Stabbed in the Face" is nonetheless jarring.

Reviews of the collaboration have been mostly positive, though not especially enthusiastic. For many, the set's highlight was the finale. Wolf Eyes' John Olson announced that there was time for one more song, and asked the audience if they'd rather hear "Leper War" or "Black Vomit." Not getting a conclusive answer, Olson turned to Braxton. "'Black Vomit!' Of course!" was the sixty-year-old saxophonist's enthusiastic response. (Myself, I would've closed with "Desert of Glue" or "Urine Burn.")

All this has little in common with the standard UN Spacy agenda, but I just can't not post on this.


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