Saturday, November 01, 2014

Peter Van Huffel's Gorilla Mask's "Bite My Blues"

A mighty beast indeed is the music made by Peter Van Huffel’s “punk jazz” aggregation Gorilla Mask. Imagine the explosive intensity of Last Exit and the restless energy of Naked City, channeled with the precision and control of Rage Against the Machine. It’s a marriage made in Berlin, where fire-breathing saxophonist Van Huffel joined forces with bassist Roland Fidezius (who has since switched from acoustic to electric bass for its heavier attack) and drummer Rudi Fischerlehner, whose whirlwind of propulsive clatter and thump underpins and drives the proceedings.

Their second album, Bite My Blues, was recorded live on two consecutive nights at different venues in Toronto. From the furious opener “Chained,” through the extreme velocity of “What?!,” Van Huffel’s horn leads the way with brawny braying and skronky squeals. On “Skunk,” it plays hopscotch with the bass over an Ornette-ish theme, which gives way to a series of solos, culminating in a torrential one from the leader, the rhythm section racing alongside him every step of the way. On the title track, Van Huffel unleashes blood-curdling squalls over a crushingly heavy groove. “Broken Flower”’s rough-hewn lyricism flows seamlessly into a turbulent and tumultuous virtuoso showcase that is, indeed, “Fast and Flurious.” The closing “Z” matches an ominously ponderous engine room with some of Van Huffel’s most unfettered playing.

Gorilla Mask’s music – exploratory and ecstatic, challenging and visceral – invites listeners who are equally attuned to heavy rock’s metallic clangor and the nuances of improvised music to have all of their food on the same plate. Come for the thunder, stay for the lightning.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Still mo' scrawl in the New York Observer

A show preview I penned of a Brooklyn appearance this weekend by Walter Lure's Waldos is online now.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mo' scrawl in the New York Observer

A piece I wrote about Unconscious Collective is online now.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

My scrawl in the New York Observer

A piece I wrote about Cerulean Giallo is online now.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Croton on Hudson Battle of the Bands 1967

These bands remind me of the ones I used to see in junior high school. From the interracial band led by the black kid with the process to the nerdy kid covering the Blues Project and the Doors, this is great stuff. The bands that left the deepest mark on me were the ones just a little older than me that I saw when I was one of those goofy-looking kids with mid-'60s "long hair."

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mo' scrawl in the New York Observer

The show preview I wrote for punk pioneer Cheetah Chrome's upcoming three-night stand in Manhattan is on the New York Observer website now.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

My scrawl in the New York Observer

Never say never again: I piece I wrote about Bludded Head is online now. Kind of ironic that 34 years after leaving Long Island, I'm writing for a NYC publication from Texas.