Monday, July 23, 2007


Huge apologies for last week's unexplained absence; won't happen again. Been wrapping my head lately around this new album–the first I've heard–by Italian multi-instrumental improviser Valerio Cosi, on the always intriguing Ruby Red label. It's called, kinda blandly, Freedom Meditation Music Vol. III, and it seems to be rooted in pretty open, spacious free jazz. In fact, on a couple tracks that's all it is, but a bunch of others are these weird amalgams of jazz and noise, and sometimes it's not even amalgams, just straight hard cuts from a snappy bit of horn/drum swing to a blinding storm of intense howl. The best stuff is a little smoother than that, melting bits of semi-modality into flattened stretches of drone. But even those spots have this weird kind of incongruity, an odd sense that these things just shouldn't be put together, that I really dig. Maybe it's not so much shouldn't as usually aren't, which is kinda refreshing - even my fave recs of late don't offer anything so intriguingly off...

I think this partially comes from the fact that Cosi made this rec by cutting and pasting together different recordings, so naturally there's gonna be some noticeable juxtapositions and strange turns of sonic phrase. But lots of people do that, so who knows...Maybe it's just not that weird–it is, after all, just jazz mixed with noise–and instead I could just be losing my mind. But after having witnessed about 1000 free jazz shows and probably as many noise ones, I can't say I remember seeing/hearing/caring about anything that sounded quite like this. I've certainly never heard anyone called jazz get noisy in quite this way–even my favorite all-out free jazz terrors keep their noise in the context of acoustic improv, rather than electric bombast (please give me some counterexamples, cause–besides Hat City Intuitive, who do things in a way similar to Cosi but don't sound a bit like him–I can't think of any, and I think that's gotta be more due to my mushy mind than any reality going on here...)

Anyway, while I retreat to my rubber room, I'm gonna leave ya with two examples of Cosi's brilliance, since I owe ya from last week. These are two of the most extreme cases of his jazz/noise yin/yang (the opening track, "Little Hymns to the African Story: i) Chumbani Mule," is more of a true seamless hybrid), with "I Wanna Be Black" (not a Lou Reed cover) offering bouncy jazz interrupted by a car crash, and the even more absurd "You Can't Pretend to Be Someone" chopping Lounge Lizard Heaven into electronic Hades and then some kind of sample-skipping Limbo. Enjoy, and I'll be back with my full brain next week...

VALERIO COSI - "I Wanna Be Black" & "You Can't Pretend to Be Someone" from Freedom Meditation Music Vol. III


Blogger Bryan Daly said...

Thanks for the heads up, this was a new one on me. Fantastic.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Hubajube said...

For my money, Vol 1 on Students of Decay is even better. And the Spiritual Committee on Foxglove is still my favorite of his though.

2:05 PM  
Blogger MM said...

awesome, mr. hubajube, i'll have to check those out...thanks!

7:11 PM  

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