Tuesday, January 31, 2012

braxbites: birth and rebirth

i'm taking the piss really by covering this one in "journo mode", i.e. shortened and simplified, when it's really only just up the track from the starting point of the next/current (ha!) braxtothon phase... but back here in the real world, the train is still half in, half out of the station and who knows how long it might take me to get as far as september, 1978... in any case by the time i get there i'll have spoiled the surprise somewhat through repeated familiarity with the material, since i've been getting into this one recently (*1). fuck it, if and when i come back to it there will be a different emphasis, but in the meantime there are two posts intended for this month started and not finished (ha!), so i thought i'd create an opportunity to see january out with some casual observations on a very remarkable recording.

on the face of it these two "weren't" fully natural partners, mr roach being very much from the previous generation and generally associated with music less experimental than that of the aacm masters (generalising horribly here - told you this was journo mode)... but of course that assumption would be pretty much crap anyway, the drummer being a long-standing supporter of outward-facing music and musicians, and noted for other successful associations with revolutionary (later) creators (c.t. springs readily to mind). but even if that were not the case, this meeting is far more auspicious than naysayers would ever guess, for the simple reason that the two men are (among other things) master subdividers.

 - b. subdivides everything - breath, utterance in all its forms, even silence ( { }   ).
 - max roach subdivides his playing surfaces into regions, deploying such precision in his attacks that the well-mic'd kit can foster the illusion of comprising dozens, perhaps even hundreds of separate pieces. he subdivides sections of horizontal space - the same as any other drummer - but does it with exceeding fineness, often sardining more discernible attacks into a tiny packet of time than ought to be possible for a human arm... and lastly he (like - and unlike - andrew hill) at times subdivides the rhythm and then re-renders it in such a way as to imply limitless variability; this last habit, incidentally, can sometimes create an entirely different illusion in a careless ear, namely that of the drummer's being unable to hold a steady beat (here a potential issue in the gentle, beautiful "magic and music"). roach actually can beat you into the ground with it all day if and when he chooses to, but he is above all always, always looking to be creative and varied in his voicings and (as i understand it) this is above all why he is/was/will be cherished among musicians.

the opening and (esp.) closing tracks both rip it up mightily; there is wondrous subtlety at work throughout, from both participants (as always mr doofus); and in "tropical forest" they co-create a glorious miniature with tempered, skewed and bent attacks. this album may or not may not currently be available in its basic form: the occasion for my hearing it in the end (*2) was after the camjazz box set last year ( -no, i didn't buy it or even know about it until) when a friend ripped a few of the discs that i didn't already have, for my still burgeoning archives... if it turned out that the album is not in print on its own then i might not be averse to sharing the files, but we'll have to see. (still haven't sorted out the re-ups of the few uploads i had on the go before. at this rate, after the recent earthquake down under, how long has filesharing got left anyway? false alarm..?)

... point is, one way or another, all devotees need to hear this recording, which really does exactly what was claimed for it: honours and extends the tradition(s) all at once. no wonder they enjoyed each other's company!

* v. comments

1 comment:

centrifuge said...

1. the fiery opener was available at d:o once upon a time, and for ages that remained the only thing i'd heard. but apparently it was a while ago 'cos the first couple of times i played the whole album, i didn't really recognise the piece (which i had played repeatedly back when...). third time, it all came back to me but for some reason it took that long. just goes to show how little we take in when we are simultaneously surfing, emailing, dicking around and "listening" to music; and, you know, this really applies to all os us doesn't it... no matter who we are, howsoever experienced our ears and notwithstanding expensive stereo setups... the ear is ultimately only as good as the consciousness at the business end of it.

2. dammit, i can't remember what the second footnote was meant to be. and now a word from our sponsor: