Monday, October 12, 2015

Animation, Machine Language, with Bob Belden

Jazz artist Bob Belden has left us. But before he went he gave us something to contemplate and appreciate, namely Machine Language (rarenoise 34849 2-LP or single CD) by his band Animation.

I suppose the first thing to note is that this is advanced electric jazz-rock in the lineage of Miles Davis in his classic fusionoide phase that ended when he broke up the band with Pete Cosey in the middle '70s. It has that aura but with its own singularity. There is no copying. The band is an excellent one, with Bill Laswell on electric bass doing things that get your ears. Bob is on sax/flute, Pete Clagett plays a post-Milesian trumpet, Matt Young plays elaborate rock-funk drums and Roberto Verastegui plays some very atmospheric, very electronic keys. Joining as narrator (and sounding a little bit Rod Serling-like) is the well-known Kurt Elling.

First a little on the narration. It is the story of humanity, especially a brilliant child, and computers. It is highly interesting, about the encroachment of machine thinking into our world and how that may ultimately change us irrevocably, or...

Now the narrative sets the mood for the music, which is ultra-modern and very much in keeping with the story line. It stands on its own, surely, as something very interesting in a "post?"-fusion mode. Spacey, filled with Belden's worthy compositional ideas and some nice sax soloing now and again, the music is much more than riff and groove. (And Laswell himself has a way with building variations into the riff so that it becomes much more than itself at any rate.)

It is an ideal meld of thought-provoking story with advanced electric jazz. It will remind you of Miles' Directions and Hancock's Mwandishi without being in any way a Xerox copy of any of it.

It makes me quite sad that Bob Belden had to part from us. He was getting into some very good things here. Give it your ears by all means.

No comments:

Post a Comment