Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lawnmower's "West"

This one came my way a couple of Clean Feed releases ago, but didn't kick in until the last couple of days. Leader/drummer Luther Gray's a free jazz-via-punk guy, best known for his work with avant guitarist Joe Morris. Here he partners with a jazz saxophonist (Jim Hobbs) and a pair of folk-leaning rock guitarists (Geoff Farina and Dan Littleton) to create a music that's about as far from, um, "fusion" as you can get.

Most free jazz-cum-rock experiments tend to start out intense and build from there, but these guys exercise admirable restraint, the leader most of all. In fact, West has dynamics like a classical recording, meaning that during the quiet passages that open each piece, you might make the mistake (as I did) of thinking that the record's over. But it's not. The guitarists employ clean tones, altered with just a little bit of amp tremelo, and provide beds of rolling chords for Hobbs to extemporize over. There's a moment when they set up a field of droning feedback for him to play off, but to everyone's credit, he doesn't try to play over them, and they don't up the intensity beyond what a supporting role requires.

I wouldn't exactly call this "mellow," but it's become the music I like to listen to when I'm trying to tune out distractions and wind down at the end of the day. There's definitely a dialogue taking place on West, but it's not one that you'll hear if you're not attending closely. A most welcome surprise.

2 Comments:

Anonymous jamie shipman said...

Cool, I'll have to check this out.

I had wondered what Geoff Farina has been up to since Karate disbanded (other than the album he released under the name Glorytellers a few years ago)... In fact, I had meant to ask you if you've ever heard any Karate before (they're a jazz and blues influenced indie rock band from the late 90's/early 00's)- Geoff Farina is the vocalist/guitarist/songwriter...

11:09 AM  
Blogger The Stash Dauber said...

I'll have to hunt down some Karate. This is the first thing I've heard of Geoff's and I'm intrigued.

6:02 PM  

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