The Hanuman Sextet-9 MEALS FROM ANARCHY CD; Radio I-Ching-NO WAVE AU GO GO CD (both available through Radio I-Ching's myspace page and I'll betcha that CD Baby has 'em as well!)
Things are still frighteningly slow on the high energy circuit these days, though thankfully there are a few bits and pieces that've at least crept into my psyche and curled up there like little spirochetes worthy of mention. Take these two recently-released artifacts f'rinstance, the Hanuman Sextet (ne. Ensemble) one being what appears to be their first "legit" release (my review of their first illegit one appears here) while the Radio I-Ching thing is the latest in yet a string of releases by this post-Hanuman grouping, and both of 'em are what I would call, er, up your alley kinda music if your alley's pretty wide and expansive. But we're not talking about Dave Lang today, we're talking Radio I-Ching so we'll dispense with Antepoidal Ass-o-nines for now and get to the meat and potatoes of what exactly good is happening in underground improvisational jazz in the here and now!
I've spewed many a good word about these Hanuman Ensemble/Sextet/whaddeva people before on this blog, and if you so desire a handy word-search'll place everything I wrote about this act at your mere fingertips. But as for this brand-spanking-new release (recorded way back in February of '06 and only revitalized a few months back) what else can I say than it featured this amazing free-improv-avant-jazz act in the studio sounding a whole lot better (which doesn't matter to me but it might to you) than they do on CD-R cooking up a mix and match of various ethnic and not-so sources and presenting it to you in a package that doesn't quite reek "World Music" and you are the happier for it.
Naturally the entire band are chopwise up-there, with Mia Theodoratus' electric harp twanging standing out even next to the exotic instrumentation (lap steel, raita, lotar, erhu, and other instruments with names that sound like characters from STAR TREK) of such members as Andy Haas and Dave Fiorino. The dual drum set up with David Gould and Dee Pop (who probably held some sorta record for being in the most groups at one time back in the early oh-ohs) is also worthy of mention, and I know that I would be considered a lout if I compared them to the Elvin Jones/Rashied Ali Coltrane lineup so I won't. And rather than belabor any points being made regarding this group and what might have been said about 'em before let me just close by saying it's sure nice hearing music that "borrows" from various styles and forms, without sounding like total caca in the process that is.
As far as "label-mates" Radio I-Ching go, well this has gotta be what...their third or fourth release (my bet's on the former) and there's no letting down with this group which is the Hanumans shorn in half and tin pan alleyed up if you get my drift. Yes, only Haas, Fiorino and Pop from that group are here, and although you're probably thinking of heavy duty late-seventies New York dankness with a title like NO WAVE AU GO GO there really is little Contortionesque punk-funk or Teenage Jesus screech to be heard within. Like on their previous endeavors, Radio I-Ching get into their standard free jazz growl yet can do the topsy-turvy loopsy bit when slipping in some surprising cover versions of "Judegment Day" and "I'm an Old Cowhand" fercryingoutloud! It's still not enough to win over your folks whose musical edjamication sorta ended when Snooky Lanson was forced to sing Chuck Berry, but at least they will know why you should be committed.
***BOOTLEG OF THE WEEK! The Who-WHO UNRELEASED LP (Who Records)
Dunno exactly when this one originally hit the cheapo record shop bins but I would say it was sometime after the infamous WHO'S ZOO double bootleg set on TMOQ came out, or perhaps the budget import collection DIRECT HITS since most if not all of WHO UNRELEASED was taken from most if not all of those legendary yet elusive elpees! Whaddeva, it sure was nice re-introducing myself to these classic single-only sides after a good fifteen/twenty years of neglect (y'see, there's only a certain amount of days on a feller's clock and we can't spend 'em all just playing the same ten great records over and over again w/o introducin' some new manure t' the compost heap!) and even I gotta admit t' lovin' the dickens outta the blue label with "WHO" proudly emblazoned across the top lookin' more like it was designed for some small-town high school marching band press from 1961! Good enough that it'll at least temporarily wash away all of those bad Who memories of rock operas and seventies stage pose machoisms that have soured you on this band o'er the past thirtysome years, and considerin' what the Who had become by that time that's some serious washin' bein' done!