Thursday, January 10, 2019

Wendy Eisenberg - The Machinic Unconscious (Tzadik, 2018)

Wendy Eisenberg is a guitarist who delves into a wide range of music from free to metal and she is joined by the equally open minded team of Trevor Dunn on bass and Ches Smith on drums. This album was recorded just this past summer in beautiful New Jersey, and is exemplified by a track like "Parataxis" that has funky bass and drums setting up the guitar, which develops a bright and metallic sheen, gathering steam for a powerful and searching solo. The playing is dynamic and fully integrated with the rhythm section, while throwing off scorching asides which keeps the performance moving continuously forward. Raw and grinding guitar is at the forefront on "Kiln" giving the music a deeply visceral feeling, driven by waves of sculpted electrical feedback. The bass and drums act as a fulcrum for Eisenberg to construct her improvisation, before the music opens up into a more intricate trio improvisation. The pace picks back up with long tones of guitar carried across the bass and drums, building to a strong crescendo and conclusion. "Dangerous Red" is the anchor of the album, a ten and a half minute powerhouse with snake like guitar tendrils and potent drumming and pulsating bass playing making for an epic improvised journey. The guitar slashes across the the soundscape of the music, driving deeper and deeper into the firmament, heading into freer territory, shedding sparks without weakening or losing intensity. This leads into "Kin Kin Diza," which is a short and exciting blast of noise, freely improvised between the trio, building enough energy to lift them airborne, in a fun and thrilling demonstration of their capabilities at full throttle. "Mycoaelia" has an open minded use of feedback and electronics to develop a large sound palate, giving the group a wide field of possibilities from migraine threatening sound pulses, through to psychedelic grooves that bubble up from underneath. "6J" has some heavy drumming that lifts Eisenberg's guitar skyward, allowing her to slash vibrant chords and devastating waves of electronic distortion, held aloft on waves of cymbals and some bass that's heavy in its own right. They make for a scalding trio, leaving notions of fusion, experimental and free at the door and revelling in making music for the sheer idealistic audacity of it. The Machinic Unconscious -

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