Thursday, September 23, 2010

Matta Gawa's Avant Shred on "bA"

Engine Records is one of those small NYC boutique labels that provide alternative music seekers with some excellent avant jazz-improv. They use two-color offset printing onto sturdy brown stock for an underground looking no-frills all-music package. (Shades of the graphic arts classes of my youth! Lunch tickets!)

I've reviewed a number of their releases on my blogs and always look forward to a new installment. The arrival of Matta Gawa's bA
(Engine 035) defied my expectations (since after a while the unexpected becomes a kind of "expected"). This is a potent duo of Edward Ricart on a very electric guitar and Sam Lohman on freetime drums. Edward cranks out of a vintage Fender tube amp. He relies on loops as underlying ostinatos or sonic backwashes much of the time.

What surprised me (and not unpleasantly) was the uncompromising avant-shred ambiance of the recording. There are moments that sound like an extension of the more outside moments on the early Hendrix albums, only Matta Gawa develop their feedback and high intensity line-chord assaults in ways that (pardon the unintentional pun) sustain interest in the longer-form expositions and give musical utterance to a wider melodic-sound color palette.

It's full-steam ahead all the way, a flat-out blast off into the spacier realms of aggressive psychedelics. Now I happen to like that approach (as I do many others as well) and I must say this scores quite high on the freak-out meter. If you appreciate Sonny Sharrock at his more extreme and have a soft spot in your heart for the spacey jams that were sometimes a part of the Dead's stage show (especially in the early incarnations) this will certainly appeal to you.

Matta Gawa go their own way with the subgenre and they do it very well. Ricart and Lohman score a weirdo coup here. Listen and get zoned with these sounds. Encore!

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