Monday, February 01, 2010

HurdAudio Rotation: Berned at the Cross Roads

Tim Berne/Science Friction: Mind Over Friction (collection, the): a re-issue of the classic Science Friction Live and Studio Recordings. 2001, 2003. Screwgun: 16892 88452-1.

Tim Berne: alto saxophone
Tom Rainey: drums
Craig Taborn: rhodes, laptop, virtual organ
Marc Ducret: electric guitars, acoustic guitars

In many ways Science Friction is an ideal band. Relentless, uncompromising charts with plenty of twists and time changes that fill in the details of their hyper-composed structures with the improvisational prowess of the individual members of the quartet. And the world of sonic damage brought into the mix by those four players is substantial. The first disc offers up the studio sound of these wicked tunes while the second and third disc open the ears to how this music works in a live context. Both settings are devastating. Marc Ducret is a complete monster on guitars coursing through this music like a beast just barely contained. When paired with the electronic machinations of Craig Taborn the creative textures never let up. Tim Berne's compositions provide some shelter from the storm of sound while allowing him to do plenty of ripping on his own horn. The fact that the Tom Rainey effect is in full force here (in my experience, Tom Rainey is never less than exceptional and has the effect of transforming any group into something transcendent) is almost too much. The Science Friction sound is must have as far as these ears are concerned.

Brian Auger: Planet Earth Calling. 1987.
Garland: GRZ010.

Brian Auger: hammond organ, yamaha CP 70B, electric grand piano, prophet 5 synthesizer, rhodes electric piano, acoustic piano, minimoog, cabasa, gogo bells, freeman string symphoniser, tambourine, vocals, cowbell
Ho Young Kim: guitar
George Doering: guitar
Dave McDaniels: electric bass
Dave Crigger: drums
Steve Evans: electric bass
Tom Donlinger: drums, waterphone, wind gong, gong
Terry Baker: drums

This one is just a bad record. Good musicians. Miserable material. It's come up in the rotation a few times before and each time I bring fresh ears. It really is stunning how bad it is given the ability and talent involved. It feels like the victim of the worst of the late-'70s and early '80s fusion impulses.

Robert Johnson: The Complete Recordings (disc one). 1990: CBS Records: C2K 46222.

Robert Johnson: guitar, voice

Haunting evidence of a voice reaching out from the Delta of the early twentieth century. Many voices have followed in Robert Johnson's wake. But to hear him is to hear the source inspiration for so much that has followed. There's an undeniable feeling to his inflections and the intonation of his guitar that speaks broadly to the human condition. An important touch stone that deserves more attention.

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