Guitarist Marc Ribot is a man so prolific that it’s impossible to assign him a genre. Whether rock, jazz, world, or experimental, his music always bears the mark of a master.
CeramicDog, his outfit with Shahzad Ismaily and Ches Smith of Secret Chiefs 3, plays a brand of guitar-driven experimental rock that speaks to the body. Your foot taps, the distortion wails, and before you know it, you’re sunk into the voodoo haze of an auditory bayou.
With the intercontinental mix of Italian trio Guano Padano, one could take the easy way out, calling it the bastard child of Ennio Morricone, Dick Dale, and Calexico. The truth is something more muddied, something broader yet less mashed up.
Led by guitarist Alessandro Stefana, 2 steeps in the traditions of Italian-western cinema — specifically, the Italian sonic interpretation of Americana — and applies surf rock and 1950s and ’60s rock ’n’ roll to the music of America’s south and southwest. Bits of gypsy, jazz, and oriental styles also dot the landscape, as each song is a journey to a new land.
In just one more trip around the sun, another swarm of immensely talented but under-recognized musicians has harnessed its collective talents and discharged its creations into the void. This list is but one fraction of those dedicated individuals who caught our ears with some serious jams.
[audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Tom_Waits_Bad_as_Me.mp3|titles=Tom Waits: “Bad as Me”]
Tom Waits is legend, larger than life. Few musicians are as cloaked in mythology. Yet his music has always been what music should be: comforting in places, jarring in others, pushing boundaries while always honoring the legacy of American songwriting. Bad as Me, Waits’ first studio album in seven years, is all of these things, continuing the direction that he established with Closing Time in 1973 and hammered into the ground with Swordfishtrombones a decade later.
At the time, Swordfishtrombones signified a new Waits, a man unafraid to be confronted. The confidence came in large part from his marriage to Kathleen Brennan. They’re still married, and Waits credits Brennan as his support, collaborator, and muse. Here, every track was written and produced by Brennan and Waits together. Those tracks oscillate between manic and maudlin, flip-flopping throughout the entire album. Where a Depression-era blues tune ends, a ballad begins. Waits’ voice is a freight train and then a frail leaf.
That voice, of course, is a wonder. Waits can sound like a woman down on her luck, a Mississippi blues man, a possessed mule, and an army of brokenhearted ogres. Every harsh word has been employed to make sense of the ragged clatter that emerges from Waits’ throat. It’s as if his voice has always been 60 years old and his body only now caught up.
Among the thousands of under-appreciated or under-publicized albums that were released in 2010, hundreds became our favorites and were presented in ALARM and on AlarmPress.com. Of those, we pared down to 100 outstanding releases, leaving no genre unexplored in our list of this year’s overlooked gems.
John Zorn: “Warlock” [audio:http://alarm-magazine.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/John_Zorn_Moonchild_Warlock.mp3|titles=John Zorn: “Warlock”]
Morrow: In 2006, indefatigable composer John Zorn launched another of his countless ensembles — Moonchild, a sludgy power trio built around vocalist Mike Patton, bassist Trevor Dunn, and drummer Joey Baron. In the four albums that began with Moonchild: Songs without Words, Zorn has used the group to explore heavy and spastic improvisations amid composed riffs and directed song structures.
The lineup has expanded a bit for a few releases, but that wild trio is the group’s heart, with Patton offering wordless shrieks, chants, and vocal spasms over Dunn and Baron’s distorted notes and progressive rhythms. Ipsissimus is the group’s fifth release in less than five years, and it’s the first to prominently feature the guitar work of Marc Ribot, who appeared on one track of the 2008 release The Crucible.
Hajduch: In description, this sounds like a whole lot of John Zorn’s projects (in the case of Naked City, you sub out Mike Patton and add Yamantaka Eye of Boredoms, but the description still fits to an extent). In practice, it’s very different. Patton feels extraneous to an extent — like Attila Csihar‘s work with Mayhem, it can seem sort of like there is just this guy, making noises. But also like Attila/Mayhem, there are moments where it just fits perfectly and feels exactly right.
Details emerge about new albums from Isis, Tortoise, Akron/Family, and Stinking Lizaveta; Zu announces some dates for a world tour (a pair of which are with Mike Patton); Dark Meat will go on tour with its 17 members; the Scion Rock Fest hosts a spate of crushing metal bands in Atlanta on February 28.