Another bunch of new shiny silver discs
Also on Clean Feed is Hammered, on which drummer Ches Smith leads an all-star, bassless quintet (These Arches) that includes Tim Berne and Tony Malaby on reeds, Mary Halverson on guitar, and Andrea Parkins on accordion and electronics. Together, they occupy a space where free improvisation, rock, and contemporary classical music intersect. The pieces Smith composes work off of hypnotic vamps and haunting melodies, and the net effect is not unlike King Crimson running amuck in Lower Manhattan ca. 1980.
From closer to home come a couple of entries in 2013's RPM Challenge, in which musicians create ten songs or 35 minutes worth of music during the month of February. On Inside the Box: Solo Improvisations on Cigarbox Guitar, Kavin Allenson spins webs of bluesy slide extemporization, sounding like a belladonna-dazed Robert Johnson stumbling his way out of a foggy swamp. It's back porch picking from the spaciest back porch you can imagine. Besides having effectively supplanted your humble chronicler o' events in Hentai Improvising Orchestra, Mark Kitchens is an architect, visual artist, instrument builder, and multifaceted muso. On I Kill You Architecture, his RPM entry under his derwooka pseudonym, he uses silence, space, and dynamic variation to create a series of evocative moods with only the most limited of tonal materials -- proof positive, as if any more were needed, that often, harmonic movement is superfluous.
Kitchens also drums in Stone Machine Electric, a doom metal outfit fronted by guitarist-singer William "Dub" Irwin. On their self-titled sophomore CD, they lay down a nice line in detuned Sturm und Drang, Kitchens' thumping tubs locking in with Irwin's chordal thunder, shadowed by guest bassist Kent Stump's rumbling unisons. (Stump, from Wo Fat, has since been replaced by Mark Cook.) Besides laying down the heavy rifferama, Irwin also wrestles lead lines that shudder like a soul in terror from his axe. If heavy makes you happy, SME could be just your meat.