Sunday, June 18, 2006


Got knocked sideways by a fever, so only a short ramble this week, about another fascinating missive from Finland: a Foxglove CD-R from the odd, wailing thicket called Akisa. Lots of mystery going on with Passover, recorded five years ago and apparently the sole release from this trio led by Jarmo Saarti (though he's listed here "Saarti," alongside "Juntunen" and "Kinnunen," all of whom are credited with "instrument(s)," the "s" being a scrawled addendum to the back cover's design-less Helvetica desert). Even more mysterious than the vague band details is the fact that this has some kind of Christian theme, with titles like "In the Beginning," "Jesus in the midst of the wolves," and "Mary wept" and a clunkily Photoshopped cover depicting a church supper in which a child stares psychotically at the camera like Linda Blair daring you to come closer. Hard to tell exactly what's religious about the band's lo-fi clatter, which is mostly high-quality, sax-led free-jazz spew, but Passover contains enough fanatic cacophony to fulfill its implicit promise of spiritual epiphany/insanity.

Actually, the dichotomy of lo-fi jazz and crazed noise is so sharp it gives Passover a weirdly schizophrenic quality. I've listened to this maybe 10-15 times, and sometimes I remember it as an above average free-jazz rec in a low-rent ESP mode (even hear a few Marzette Watts-like moments here and there), other times all that sticks are the 5-to-10 abandoning moments in which choking sax, sandpapery electronics (I think), and the distorted screams of a what sounds like a half-human/half-seal create an explosion of distressed speaker-destruction. I think "Jesus in the midst of wolves" (linked below) is the best example of this oddly beguiling yin/yang, starting as an echoey piece of minimal improv, adding a few saws and creaks, and eventually building to a ear-killing din that sounds like some kind of being not having the greatest of days.

This isn't to say that the more, uh, conventional jazz passages here aren't worthy of time too - subtract the little peaks of freak-out and Passover would still be an excellent chunk of basement-locked skronk - but Passover's insane bumps jut Akisa into its own strange, toxic realm...

ASIKA - "Jesus in the midst of the wolves" from Passover


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