Matthew 28:17 was the August release in Jazkamer’s fantastic monthly series of 2010. What sets this one apart from others (in addition to the awesome cover art by Government Alpha) in the series is the massive dose of drama that makes it one of the best releases in Jazkamer’s entire catalogue. Here we find Jazkamer up to all sorts of noisy goodness. The epic drugged-out guitar of the first track, Psychedelic Buzz Aldrin and Pragmatic Albert Hoffman, is locked behind an impenetrable wall of fuzz and drone. The walls of noise become sentient, surging masses in Cosmic Cookies which envelop and almost strangle that same retro psychedelic guitar in a winner-takes-all death roll. There is an over riding “space” influence on Matthew 28:17 but their is no sign of the celestial bliss that might accompany such a theme. I own a lot of Jazkamer records and I can’t recall ever hearing them embrace psychedelic noise in such an overt way. In fact it is a very good starting point if you’ve ever wanted to dabble in the vast Jazkamer world.
Archive for the Jazkamer Category
Jazkamer’s 2010 monthly series was an absolute cracker. I say that even though I’ve only tracked down five or six of the releases. The joy in any Jazkamer record besides the obvious quality of the noise, is the expectation of which style the record is going to take. I’m a big fan of Jazkamers grindcore records such as Metal Music Machine and I think they do minimalist noise very well. Chestnut Thornback Tar is a bit of everything. The 20 minute opener is as good a harsh drone track that you’ll hear. After that shit gets weird. There is rumbling free improv drums, electronic scree, rock n roll feedback, electronic malevolence, cut up field recordings and general noise weirdness. This is one of my favourite Jazkamer records probably because the sense of humour that first drew me towards them is in full effect here. The thing about Jazkamer is that I don’t think any casual listener let alone a nerd like myself can ever get a true handle on what they do. This afternoon I listened to this, the psychedelic something or other of Matthew 28:17, the perplexing almost Nurse with Woundish Spaghetti Western Rainbow (Marhaug solo record) and Peanuts. There is nothing to suggest that any of those records are from the same band except that they are all definitively non-music. If noise is the pinnacle of rejecting musical conformity then Jazkamer add another layer of refusing to embrace a style or sound within that sound. They are one of the most transgressive noise bands right now. Take a dip.
When I write about records from most bands or artists my job is kind of easy. If you’ve had any experience with a particular band then you’ll know what sort of sound that band produces and then it is a doddle to explain whether the current record is better, worse, or more of the same. A band like Lasse Marhaug and John Hegre’s Jazkamer is a beast of a thing to post on. I have seven Jazkamer records and no two of them sound the same. When I say that they don’t sound the same I mean it literally. Take Metal Music Machine for instance. Before I heard this I had heard the pure noise records of Lasse Marhaug, the micro quiet noise of Pancakes, the Norwegian impishness of Hot Sexy Karaoke and the avant garde sound explorations of Balls the Size of Texas. None of those records can prepare you for the sound unleashed on this. Metal Music Machine is a leather clad, behemoth of grindcore, doom, black, speed and more avant metal sounds. It is quite literally one of the best metal records I have ever heard (and this from someone who has never been much of a metal fan). It drips with pure pleasure. What I’d really like to say is that Metal Music Machine is one of the best Jazkamer records I own but that defeats the point because no one can ever be in a position to compare Jazkamer records. Each has a different style. It would be like comparing Merzbow with Shonen Knife. Each Jazkamer record has to stand alone and as a stand alone record, Metal Machine Music is a great album.
Jazkamer is doing a CD a month. I now wish I’d signed up for a subscription but after Merzbow’s effort in 2009 I was feeling a bit burnt. The thing about Jazkamer’s series that makes it much more interesting that Merzbow’s, is that each record is exploring a different Jazkamer style. And that is essentially why I am such a big Jazkamer fan – every record is something new and if you listen to one of their early records like Pancakes and compare it to Metal Music Machine you’ll think that they were made by two very different bands indeed. Self-Portrait is the bands first “acoustic record” and I really wanted to hear what their interpretation of acoustic is so this is the reason I started with Self-Portrait from their current series. Half the fun is trying out what the band are using to make the racket on this record. And I do mean racket…. and clatter. This is like a minimalist bi-polar Vibracathedral Orchestra. One minute where all energetic and improving the fuck out of it, the next thing they’re sulking in the corner dragging a chair. When I first listened to Self-Portrait I was a bit underwhelmed but in the past couple of months I’ve started to really enjoy it. I reckon that this is a pretty interesting variant on experimental sound or a more organic, less brutal noise. If you’re a bit nerdy about your noise (and I am) this will be right up your alley.
This is an absolute cracker. A 3inch mini CD released on the always excellent OHM records in Norway. Today I drove the kid into the city and we listened to this on the way. After two minutes and no sign of disapproval from the back seat I asked him whether he liked it and he gave me the thumbs up. As a large wave of high end distortion started I asked him what it sounded like. “That”, he started “That is fire and that is a huge monster roaring and now he is walking.” When the sound of water started after about seven minutes he said ” that is the sea where the dinosaurs go.’ So after listening to this 20+ minute extreme drone, harsh noise/field recording opus the kid is all smiles although he thought it was a bit scary in the second half. I can’t get him to listen to Sonic Youth but this he loves. It’s been an odd day.
I have a stressful job. The things I see on a day to day basis are disturbing and sometimes pretty traumatic. Sleep has been pretty variable for the last couple of years as things I encounter during the day sometimes revisit me at night. In the last year I’ve found walking home from work pretty helpful. Something to do with serotonin levels or something. During those walks I find that some albums have an almost therapeutic effect. In the past I’ve mainly listened to Merzbow although in the last couple of months Daniel Menche and Kevin Drumm’s Gauntlet has been working a trick. I find extreme noise soothing. It cuts me off from the traffic noise and outside world and almost scrubs clean the pile of crap that sits in my head so by the time I get home I’m ready to re-engage with the world.
Maybe this is why the title of The Great Silence makes perfect sense to me. On an objective letter the title is nonsense because The Great Silence contains some of most brutal and primitive noise I’ve ever heard. Walls of static and distorted electronic abuse which doesn’t let up. This is pure white-hot noise and an album I’ve enjoyed for the past couple of weeks. For a comparison there are some similarities with Merzbow’s work from the early to mid-1990’s yet my interaction with this record had me thinking whether records like The Great Silence are an ultimate, extreme version of drone. The noise doesn’t change much over the three lengthy tracks. There are no Merzbow “rate of change” comparisons here. Maybe what Marhaug does here is a form of power ambience. This is the first Marhaug solo record I’ve heard. I’m not sure whether it is reflective of his other stuff but as a stand alone record for someone looking for a noise record at the more relentless end of the scale then The Great Silence is one to track down.
I’m not a huge Jazkamer aficionado. I’ve nibbled at the edges of Scandinavian noise but I’ve never truly embraced it. Well in the last couple of days my back has been spasming like a motherfucker and my resultant physical inactivity means that I’ve had a chance to actively listen to the three records of their’s that I own. Jazkamer are a core duo of John Hegre and Lasse Marhaug. On Art Breaker they are also joined by Iver Sandoy. I don’t now that much about Hegre but any noise jerk has probably come across Marhaug’s name in their travels. The thing about Jazkamer is that they may be one of the most diverse noise acts out there. I’ll be posting on a couple of their records in the next couple of weeks but I decided that I’d start with Art Breaker for no other reason than because it is the easiest. What Art Breaker delivers is a noise artists version of Grindcore. There are 58 tracks on Art Breaker . The longest is nearly two minutes the shortest is 5 seconds. Only six of the tracks are over 30 seconds in length. And it is fun, fun, fun. It’s just mad. Almost like a more ferocious Napalm Death with a Merzbow fixation. A word of warning though, if you’re not open to all forms of experimental noise then you may want to do some research before picking a Jazkamer record to dabble with. The three records I’ve heard are so different from each other you’d think that they were made by different artists. I like them all but for very, very different reasons.