Laughter

the human race has one really effective weapon


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The Monthly List: April’s Top 10

photograph by Kevin Baird

Solar Eclipse – “Ring of Fire” – photograph by Kevin Baird

The only new album on the list this month comes from the Phil Minton/Audrey Chen Quintet on Sub Rosa. Everything else is a reissue or a new collection of older music.

Impulse’s release of John Coltrane’s complete Sun Ship sessions snuck in right at the end of April, but didn’t make the list because I was too busy listening to MeditationsCrescent, and Interstellar Space to notice. Coltrane has been almost the only thing I’ve wanted to hear for the last two weeks and I don’t see any sign of that streak ending. Repeat plays of Crescent and Meditations were broken only by Human Ear’s reissue of Michael Pisaro’s Tombstones and Machu Picchu’s re-release of Inside the Shadow. Both are essential and I highly recommend seeking them out.

The first half of the month was also dominated by reissues. Recollection GRM’s Xenakis LP is outstanding, as is MCR’s treatment of Where’s My Towel/Industry Standard from Austin’s Big Boys.

As always, formats posted are the ones I own. Others may be available. If you like any of the samples I link to, please buy the album. You can find numerous retailers carrying these titles at the bottom of this page.

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Brotzmann playing a huge sax


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Morning Wake-Up Call: Peter Brötzmann’s “Machine Gun”

The Peter Brötzmann feature in this month’s issue of Wire magazine has me busting my copy of Machine Gun out again—and admiring the first decent Wire cover in ages. Machine Gun sounds better to me now than it did when I first heard it 14 or 15 years ago, when I was 15 or 16 years old. I remember hearing the opening saxophone blast for the first time and laughing, both out of surprise and because it delivered exactly what the album title promised: a scary, rapid fire blast built up from three saxophonists, two bassists, two drummers, and a lonely pianist. Brötzmann’s intensity and volume is mentioned in nearly every review his music gets (for good reason), but there’s a lot of great humor and subtlety folded into his music too: listen long enough to the song below and you’ll hear what sounds like a riot passing through a football game at a university. The Complete Machine Gun Sessions is currently out of print, but according to the Atavistic website you can find it at places like iTunes or eMusic. Recommended listening.