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(47:25, Unicorn Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Provocation 2:33 2. Lunatic Engine 10:59 3. Immaculate Risen Descents 5:56 4. Nightwater 3:10 5. Necklace of Forever 8:39 6. Bluewolf Bloodwalk 9:54 7. Masks 6:20 LINEUP: Dan Maske – keyboards; trumpet, flute; voice Roger Ebner – saxophone; wind synthesizer William Kopecky – basses Joe Kopecky – guitars Craig Walkner – drums With: Sophie Kopecky – narration (3, 7)
Prolusion. The US combo SNARLING ADEJCTIVE CONVENTION – SAC from here forward – is certainly a super-group, as its five participants (see lineup above) all have been playing with many remarkable, widely known, bands and projects. Besides, the majority or perhaps even all of them have already (or previously, if you will) worked together, more than once: in Yeti Rain, Far Corner and Kopecky, bassist William Kopecky still being a member of each of those fine outfits. All in all, I believe it won’t be a crime to present this disc, “Bluewolf Bloodwalk”, as their first collaboration under the moniker of SAC.
Analysis. Dear readers, being your guide into the world of SAC this time around, I feel myself a steward who must make an announcement before you embark: “Welcome to the flight “Bluewolf Bloodwalk”! Please leave your logical thinking at the point of entry.” Yeah, this album will catch most, if not all, of you napping, and even trying to describe it is a headache in a way. According to the press kit, all the music on here was composed spontaneously, which indeed corresponds to the real state of affairs – regarding six of the seven tracks presented, to be more precise. Nevertheless, what has been said doesn’t mean you will deal with something blurred, chaotic or cacophonic, lying beyond any stylistic frameworks. With the exception of the title track which is being viewed last of all, this musical material appears as a totally original mixture of Jazz Rock, Free Jazz and Avant-garde. In its pure form, this idiom is applicable to Immaculate Risen Descents, Masks and Necklace of Forever, while what turns out to be the other half of the primary-style pieces, namely Provocation, Nightwater and Lunatic Engine, all additionally contain doom metal-evoking sonic architectures, revealing some frenzied drumming alongside the absolutely killer guitar and fuzz-bass riffs that work surprisingly well in this context, being surrounded exclusively by free-improvised solos, albeit some of those may seem to have been composed in an almost traditional manner. The music on each is dark, majestic, hypnotic and highly eclectic all at once, evoking something not of this world, though Lunatic Engine, the longest track here, needs a more detailed elaboration. Now rushing like a mountain river, now flowing slower, like a subterranean one (Styx carrying its dark and disquieting waters coming to mind first of all), with some ghostly effects popping up here and there, it navigates through many sinuous key changes and dramatic shifts in intensity and coloration, the drum solos appearing at the fore as frequently as those of sax, flute, organ, etc, do. It would be pointless to focus attention on any single instrument to grasp this stuff, though. Try to take what’s going on as a whole, arm yourselves with patience, and you will be rewarded with time, after a few-to-several plays of the disc, discovering more details and shades (getting more and more pleasure in my comprehension) with each successive listen. Necklace of Forever is another winner. Despite being emotionally lighter and texturally smoother than the Lunatic Engine, this semi-epic has musically a lot in common with that track and can, or rather should, be described with the same words and expressions save the fact that it has a distinct oriental feeling all over its third movement. Basically slow-paced and even groovy to a certain extent, Immaculate Risen Descents and Masks seem to be filled with whispered female narratives in addition, and yet both come across as the most eccentric pieces in the set, since some of the ‘hovering’ soloing lines on each bear an extremely bizarre character, occasionally making me think of an artificial over-eclecticism. I also slightly regret that there’s not even a hint of heaviness on these, otherwise pretty fine, pieces. Surprisingly, the only disappointing track here is the title one, no matter that it comes across as being done on the spur on the moment, too. Really a black sheep in this ‘herd’ of avant-jazz entities, this is a standard swingy jazz-rock tune, a set of improvisations done over the bottom end, featuring quite a few unison leads as well as some other traditional jazz tricks. As being basically monothematic, it sounds rather the same throughout and is generally overextended, lasting for nearly 10 minutes. I think the band either had to begin with this track or generally omit it, as without it, the CD would be 37:30 in length – for me, it’s a very decent, if not perfect, time for a full-length album. Otherwise the band shines with inventiveness and mastery on all levels: just bear in mind that it’s an impromptu effort when wondering at how skillfully they accelerate their pace before merging into a positively wild jam, such as in the finale of the Lunatic Engine, to name one instance. By the way, the only time I am reminded of anyone else (here: La Faulx from Univers Zero’s “Heresie”) is somewhere in the middle of this masterpiece – when hearing wordless growling-like voices there, to be more precise.
Conclusion. SAC isn’t the first to deploy an extempore approach as the basis for their work (just recall OSC and Escapade for instance). However their style is completely original. Whether I take their debut as an avant-jazz apocrypha or as a jazz-rock heresy, I like it first of all for that it lies far beyond any orthodox paradigms and is incomparable with anything I’ve heard before. Save its title track, this release is much to my taste, deserving to be included in my personal Top-20-2008 chart.
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