Brass: Asia (Pan 2020CD)
Brass music - so stridently unfashionable - was, almost
certainly, the first genuine meeting point of truly distant
musical traditions, following hard upon the advent of
European colonialism five hundred years (and more) ago.
Because, unlike the string traditions - which only fully
bore fruit in the US, reliant as they were upon mass (poor
white) immigration & mixing - brass went everywhere
that troops did...and was also viewed as the (artistic)
corollary of military supremacy and, hence, eagerly adapted
by locals everywhere - to the point where bamboo (or zinc!)
saxophones (and weird hybrid styles) proliferated all
over the place...nowhere more so than in Indonesia.
Once upon a time, I made up a compilation cdr of this
stuff - in my first flush of discovery - and titled it:
I thought I heard Albert Ayler call my name... Because,
what this material demonstrates - conclusively - is that
Ayler isnt some extremist...instead,
hes one of the very few Western artists to fully
inhabit the timbral mainstream on his instrument - its
the rest of our Western brass & reeds that are truly
upon the periphery; far too genteel to fully
explore the natural timbral approach said instruments
invite, or - even - demand...
In the current underground, were almost
totally jazz-centric when in comes to brass & reeds...a
situation which world music has - damnably
- done very little to correct. Because of this, the Frozen
Brass collections - sampling vibrant (living) traditions
- need to be nailed to our doors...like goddamn manifestos!
Re jazz...it may come as a total shock (well, it did
to me) to find out that the New Orleans jazz funeral
tradition of raucously dragging-out hymns has an uncanny
parallel in Indonesia...which quite likely predates its
New World incarnation, due to the factors mentioned above.
Other parallels, if anything, are even more uncanny. Try,
for example, Indonesian ska, or NY 60s boho
shamanistic drone-based blurtfests & so on...
And, thats (merely) to mention the stuff that falls
easily upon our ears...because, a lot of this sounds like
nothing much youve ever heard before. What sound
like insane children tear-out collective madness, on home-made
instruments w/kazoo mouthpieces, in what is (apparently)
a venerable local tradition, and entirely new kinds of
funk grease their ways down our backbones...disfunctional
feedback-ridden clockwork shudders
into view, beautiful discords abound...and,
amidst all of this, O Mauro Rendingane chimes
in - a fresh kind of awe that you could easily play to
your mother - and have her love it to bits...
You, truly, need to open your ears to these marvels.
John Henry Calvinist