Friday, December 05, 2008

Arcana - The Last Wave (1996) (mp3 160kbps)

When I first heard this record, at the age of 24, it scared the bejebus out of me. I'm still not entirely sure that this is music.

Bill Laswell is a bit troubling to me because he's an artist, but also a big fan. His technichal ability is not really on par with the prowess of Tony Williams. Laswell is a puzzle. He can certainly play, and god knows his heart is in the right place, but he's more of a facilitator, whether as producer or as (here) jam-mate.

Which brings me to Tony Williams - the reason I got this record in the first place. Tony Williams: child podigy, Miles Davis alum, founder of Lifetime (featuring John McLaughlin). He had pretty much done it all leading up to this session. A first ballot hall of famer - no question. And what comes out here is a clear evolution of everything from the bop, the cool, the fusion, the rock, the smooth jazz - it's all played on the same drum kit by the same man - only here, in the last year of his life, Williams is now at the outermost edge of sanity. This is the avant garde.

Derek Bailey appears to have been a man of ferocious vision and ability. His free-jazz approach conjures such a cacophonous mess, that it's hard to tell which end is up. He takes what the other two musicians are doing and he absolutely obliterates the groove. There seems to be no rhyme or reason - just noise. But when I mustered enough criosity to explore the chaos, I saw that there is pattern and melody, albeit twisted unside out. Despite the first impression, these are not the noodlings of a madman. Bailey knew exactly what he was doing.

This record has been known to make some people very uncomfortable. It is atonal throughout. But the ability to inspire such discomfort is exactly what makes it so good. There is poerty and genius, to be sure, but the absolute irreverence, the nauseating, frustraing, unresolved mess followed so close to the date of Williams fatal heart attack that it has a very dark and foreboding feel. Chaotic, tragic, overwrought, and close to death. Proceed with caution.

Oh yeah, Bailey died in London on Christmas Day, 2005. He had been suffering from motor neurone disease.

1. Broken Circle 11:04
2. Cold Blast 8:17
3. The Rattle of Bones 7:57
4. Pearls and Transformation 16:27
5. Tears of Astral Rain 8:06
6. Transplant Wasteland 8:32

1 comment:

MPomy said...