Tom Belushi Jazz Trio – Death Mast LP

Posted: 31 March 2023 in Albums
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Christopher Nosnibor

I get a lot of weird shit come my way. I guess it’s to be expected: I review a fair amount of weird shit and it just snowballs: weird shit finds me. And this is very much weird shit. Despite some serious deliberation, I can’t decide where the emphasis lies in that statement.

Details about the artist or the release are practically non-existent, but it doesn’t take too much digging to establish that the Tom Belushi Jazz Trio aren’t a trio and they don’t play jazz.

Having released an EP (also entitled Death Mast) and deleted it almost instantaneously, Tom Belushi Jazz Trio seem determined to render themselves as evasive frustratingly obscure as is conceivably possible. But this is clearly not simply a musical project, so much as an exercise in postmodernism that revels in ephemerality. With CD copies of this release being limited to single figures, I’m reminded of various crackers projects by Bill Drummond and The KLF, among others, whereby the objective seems to be to create an objet d’art that’s so scarce it’s beyond reach even before it’s released, essentially only existing in legend.

Slapping synths, gloopy stuttering beats, warping irregularities and groaning keys redefine the sound, along with snippets of robotic, autotuned vocals. Oriental motifs are dominant in this instrumental album’s ten exploratory tracks, which appear to be largely AI in origin. Because yes, it’s taking over the world. Think you can hide or linger on the peripheries now? You’re simply deluding yourself.

There are some nice sounds – and some naff ones – all balled together in an eclectic hotchpotch of ersatz electronic collaging. ‘Traitor’s Gate’ is a droning shanty that’s actually got human vocals; it’s woozy, disorientating in an uncanny sort of a way.

The titles are daft, absurdist, Dadaist or abstract, and littered with references, many of which are obscure – ‘Luke Haines. I Have Your Hat’; ‘No Mark Wynn’;(a particularly cheesy and overly synthetic slice of r ‘n’ b); ‘Stairwell Crooks Shutterstock Dust Jacket’ but ultimately seem to present as little true meaning as the music itself (and I can’t ever recall having experienced any dilemmas over purchasing avocados).

Death Mast is one of those albums that was probably more fun to produce thana it is to listen to. It does have considerable novelty value, and it does have lots of ideas, but few seem to be explored in any real depth or fully realised, and as such, the main idea seems to be the concept for the creative process – or should that be ‘creative’ process?- rather than the end product. But with the ideas and even the passages within the tracks being as fleeting and as ephemeral and impossible to locate as copies of the album itself, what are we really left with? Ultimately, Death Mast presents more questions than answers, a point of discussion more than a musical project. But, if there is one conclusion we can draw from this it’s that there is no need to worry that AI will bring about the end of music as we know it. At least, not this week. Welcome to the post-postmodern age.




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