Monday, January 13, 2020

16-17 – Phantom Limb (Trost, 2020)

The Austrian label Trost is usually notable for bringing some of the finest in avant-garde jazz to the marketplace, but this album marks a departure for them. 16-17 began in Basel, Switzerland in the early eighties with Alex Buess on saxophones and bass clarinet, electronics and voice and Knut Remond on drums, experimenting musically by performing an abrasive distorted mix of dub, hardcore and free jazz before the band officially split up in 2000. The basis of this new Phantom Limb  LP was recorded in 1995 by a new line-up with Alex Buess, Damian Bennett on bass and Michael Wertmüller on drums. The band was additionally expanded by Eugene S. Robinson and Kasia Meow who added vocals and lyrics. "The Hate Remains The Same," perhaps a jab at Led Zeppelin's "The Song Remains the Same" makes a statement right from the beginning of the album, with dark punk / hardcore male vocals slashing over grating bass and drums to maximum effect. After the skittish and haunting "Interruptus" the group comes back with a vengeance on "Words of Warning," where all sense of cautiousness is thrown into the wind for an all out hardcore meets free jazz meltdown which also mixes in crushing drums and both female and male vocals screaming and writhing in the mix. "Crash" begins appropriately with revving guitar, bass and drums with vocals and brass woven in and barely held together. The group flies in for a strafing run over the soundscape as the drum rhythm and guitar become complex, and phased horns and guitar distort into psychedelic configurations. This fast pace carries through into "Bender" with the vocalists spitting out the lyrics with venom over crushing drums and searing guitar. "Subliminal Song" moves in a different direction, taking a dark grinding doom metal approach, bringing their sounds up from the depths of some dungeon, along side crushing percussion and anguished vocals. The album ends in an edgy and ominous fashion on "Asia's Lullaby," with saxophone pops and spare electronic groans, adding unexpected chimes and spare curls of saxophone. Concluding in an enigmatic fashion, without the roar of their prior work, but with an eerie almost cinematic flair. This album is produced quite well, considering that the music was recorded in 1995 and the vocals in 2018. It is a hard to classify piece of work, melding elements of diverse genres into one ferocious whole. Phantom Limb - amazon.com

Send comments to Tim.