Drummer Mike Pride has two new CDs out. This is not a surprise; he’s highly prolific, and has released two other albums this year already—The Exterminating Angel, a set of duos with trumpeter Kirk Knuffke, and Dripping Ancience, with guitarist Mick Barr—and appeared on the Jonathan Moritz Trio‘s Secret Tempo and Dance, by trumpeter Jacob Wick‘s Hungry Cowboy. He’s a member of some interesting projects that fall outside the “jazz” umbrella, including The Spanish Donkey (a noisy trio featuring organist Jamie Saft and guitarist Joe Morris) and Jon Irabagon‘s I Don’t Hear Nothin’ But The Blues (originally a sax-drums duo, but lately a trio featuring Barr).
The two discs released under his own name, back in May, are Drummer’s Corpse and Birthing Days; the latter is credited to his group From Bacteria To Boys. Drummer’s Corpse (buy it from Amazon) consists of two tracks, one 33 minutes long and the other a mere 26. The first, the title track, features multiple drummers (Oran Canfield, Russell Greenberg, John McLellan, Bobby Previte, Ches Smith and Tyshawn Sorey), vocals and additional percussion from Marissa Perel and Fritz Welch, guitar by Chris Welcome, and Pride himself on drums, percussion, gongs, vocals, organ and nose flute. There’s a lot of clatter; the drums mostly sound more like plastic buckets, or pots and pans, than traditional kits. Maybe everyone was playing those little plastic toms that death metal drummers favor. The guitar is a constant low-level No Wave/noise-rock grinding sound, and the male vocals are reminiscent of Eye Yamatsuka‘s and Mike Patton‘s work with John Zorn, while the female vocals are a post-Linda Sharrock caterwaul. It’s not a subtle or introspective work; there are no solos or other interludes. It gets its power from its refusal to stop, slow down, or de-intensify. The second piece, “Some Will Die Animals,” is pretty much the polar opposite. Pride is the only drummer, and he’s limiting himself to bass and toms; he’s joined by Welcome once again, but the guitarist is playing in a quieter, almost Derek Bailey-ish style, little knotted coils of notes. Bassist Eivind Opsvik creates thick, bowed drones, and Perel, Yuko Tonohira and Welch recite texts over each other in a disorienting and ultimately somewhat distracting manner, from about the seven-minute mark until just shy of 11 minutes. They return at about the 20-minute mark, and recite what I think is the same set of texts, but switching parts, for about four minutes. The recitation is a pretty big distraction from what would otherwise be a quite beautiful piece, sort of a cross between some of New Zealand psychedelic noise rockers The Dead C‘s mellower work and Miles Davis‘s “He Loved Him Madly.” But hey, if Pride wants to explore sound poetry and cut-up texts, it’s his album.
Here’s a promo video for Drummer’s Corpse:
Birthing Days (buy it from Amazon) is a more traditional/”normal” jazz record, performed by his working band of some standing, From Bacteria To Boys. On 2010’s Betweenwhile, their first release for AUM Fidelity and second overall, the group included alto saxophonist Darius Jones, keyboardist Alexis Marcelo, and bassist Peter Bitenc. On this album, Jones has been replaced by Jon Irabagon, who plays both alto and tenor, and Jonathan Moritz and Jason Stein make guest appearances, playing tenor sax and bass clarinet, respectively. FBTB’s music blends jazz, funk, modern R&B, and various other influences into a sound that’s at times skronky (especially when Irabagon gets rolling hard, as on opening cut “79 Beatdowns of Infinite Justice, The”), but other times smooth and slick. Marcelo is crucial to the whole operation, as he shifts back and forth between piano and synth, and while the album’s title track finds him doing some awesome Bernie Worrell shit, the aforementioned “79 Beatdowns” is near-fatally marred by a thin, piercing synth sound like something early-2000s post-hardcore annoyance specialists The Locust might bust out. The only track to feature all three horns is “CLAP,” and it’s awesome. It opens with Stein and Moritz harmonizing in a thick, resonant buzz as Irabagon spools out shimmering, ribbonlike phrases and the trio of Marcelo, Bitenc and Pride set up an almost hard bop foundation, but then it all dissolves into a kind of polyphonic wallow, everyone going their own way like the middle section of an Albert Ayler piece from the mid ’60s, and then seamlessly reuniting for the final minute. “Brestwerp,” too, starts out setting up a supple groove, then goes awry, but eventually reverts to emotional yet deft swing.
Here’s a promo video for Birthing Days:
Both Drummer’s Corpse and Birthing Days are occasionally frustrating but more often thrilling albums, and they’re well worth your time and money.
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