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Here's a pretty crazy LP from sax wizard Ken Vandermark's latest project, an electro acoustic whirlwind of bouncy and melodic free jazz and minimal electronic experimentation. There's one track on each side. 'Sans Serif' on side A is dedicated to Betty Page and Sleater Kinney and in honour of their favourite sassy rock ladies they go in hard with percussive bass strumming and wiggly sax squeaking before dropping off a cliff edge into deep space drones and backwards tape manipulation weirdness, before veering heartily into sax-heavy jazz fusion grooves complete with laser-gun synth squeaks. It's pretty wild but also tuneful, I'm having fun.
Over on the other side 'Capital Black' is also dedicated to ladies, these ones Helen Frankenthaler and Joan Mitchell. This ode to the early abstract expressionists starts with a drum solo which is then joined by some pleasantly snaking reed tooting from Ken, very restrained and almost mournful compared to the opening side's celebratory squeaks. This one also sags into ambience in the middle, although from a far less energetic point, which allows for more subtle texture-building in a gathering collage of electronic drones, shuddering loops, slicing sine waves and gentle puttering drums that loop into a sound like rain falling on a metal roof.
Finally they get a slow and moody jazz groove going with less than half of the side left to go but it's worth the wait, spaced out and minimal with a great minimal cop-show bassline and some weird drone work. This groove goes on for a while, gradually shifting and swelling and receding until it's a squeaky Van Der Graaf Generator-esque prog monster by the end. This is fun stuff, lively and explorative jazz that never gets too serious.
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