Posts Tagged ‘Bloom’

Textile Records – May 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

Just as I don’t really do jazz, I don’t much do country, either. But for every rule – or perhaps more of a broad, general guideline – there necessarily has to be an exception. So here I am, sipping hot black coffee having just ejected an album by Marc Sarrazy and Laurent Rochelle, which goes way over the limit on the jazzometer and has left me shaking my head and thinking there’s just no way I can review that objectively, and looking at a plain white paper sleeve stamped with six song titles under the header ‘J.O.M.F BLOOM’.

The biographical commentary that ‘the band is moving more slowly these days, with core members Tom Greenwood and Michael Whittaker living in the more rural corners f Northern California’ is perhaps an understatement: Bloom was a full three years in the making. But it’s not just its evolution that was gradual: compositionally, too, the pieces are slow-growing and sparse. The quietly picked guitar notes resonate outwards as woodwind trills over the hills on the instrumental intro piece, ‘Pipe’ It’s kinda quiet, sort of ambient. A sudden swell of noise ends abruptly to make way for the sedate country ramblings of ‘Radiating’. If you dig downbeat country tines that drag on for over eight minutes, this is going to do it for you bigtime. If you don’t… It’s laid back to the point of horizontal, the lyrics drawled rather than sung, and as such decipherable only in snippets.

But while this is very much a country album, it’s anything but conventional or straight ahead overall. ‘Wreck’ is slow-building, initially just guitar and Greenwood’s cracked croon. But before long, a tumult of crashing cymbals, overloading electric guitar feedback and straining saxophone create a glorious cacophony. Wild brass and woodwind shriek and squeal all over the raucous stomp of ‘Strike’. A sort of country/blues heart pulses beneath the chaotic racket that pummels in all directions and drives toward the horizon of abstraction. ‘Wildgeese’ brings dolorous trudging before the lo-fi plod of ‘Golden Bees’ thuds its way to the album’s conclusion in a muddy haze of echo.

On Bloom, Jackie-O Motherfucker fuse the mellowest, most downcast of country with the most awkward jazz dirges, which drone and wheeze and scrape at divergent angles across the linear country compositions. It may be country at its core, but it’s a whole lot more.

AA

Jakie-O Motherfucker

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Hubro – HUBROCD2578 – 7th October 2016

Those who have heard Kim Myhr’s 2014 album All Your Limbs Singing (or his collaboration with Jenny Hval and the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra) will find Bloom a rather different proposition. In place of 12-string explorations which sit between American folk and 60s avant-garde, electric guitar and electronics fuse to create something quite intriguing. There are lengthy passages which sound like formless noodling, a single chord strummed and subject to tonal variations, running through permutations of effects on a pedal board to achieve different equalisation, gain, overdrive. But while the five tracks on Bloom are clearly of an experimental and seemingly improvisational bent, there are definite structures and a sense of composition, with washes of electronic sound and layers building over one another.

‘O Horizon’ turns the focus toward rhythm, while also building ambience through long, hovering guitar sustain. The one thing Myhr does not do frequently is play the guitar conventionally: he does, however, demonstrate just how massively versatile the guitar is as an instrument. Where he does strum, as he does with a clean tone on ‘Swales Fell’, uses a zither to achieves a sound somewhere between a harp and a sitar, the notes tumbling and fluttering in gentle cascades. The scratchy tonalities and rich textures which emerge through the shimmering summery shades of ‘Milk Run Sky’ create a balance and contrast. It’s on this final track that Myhr plays most conventionally, but still filtered through a psychedelic, kaleidoscopic prism.

Bloom is a rare beast, in that it’s an album which is very much about technique, and about the effects and sounds that exploratory techniques can create. But at no point does Myhr become excessively self-focused or lose the listener.

 

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