Today’s edition of the LEO Weekly includes my review of Colin Stetson’s New History Warfare Volume 2: Judges:
Multi-reedist Colin Stetson presents an intriguing proposition on his second solo album, New History Warfare Volume 2: Judges: What would it sound like if the saxophone was used not as merely a vehicle for solo expression, but as a polyphonic, looping instrument in the service of highly abstract music? There are some antecedents in the modernist, multi-disciplinary work of Rova Saxophone Quartet, and perhaps Steve Reich, but Stetson’s approach bears few traces of any jazz tradition, apart from an occasional Albert Ayler-esque squeal. The result is an album of highly textural sounds that seem, at first listen, to have been created through heavy digital processing, but New History was recorded entirely live — with the exception of a French horn overdub, a guest vocal by Laurie Anderson and one by Shara Worden, of My Brightest Diamond, on a haunting version of “Lord I Just Can’t Keep From Crying Sometimes.”
Buy it from Constellation here.
Last week’s edition of the LEO Weekly included my review of the new Arbouretum record, The Gathering:
The last time a rock band cited Carl Jung as a primary influence was probably on The Police’s swan song, Synchronicity; but on Arbouretum’s new record, The Gathering, Dave Heumann has found inspiration in the father of analytic psychology’s posthumously published, hallucinatory “The Red Book.” The lyrics are darkly imagistic and dream-like, and perfectly match Arbouretum’s music, a hybrid of the heavy post-hardcore of Lungfish and the delicate melodic sensibility of 1960s-era British folk rock bands like Pentangle. High points include “The White Bird,” which sets the album’s ominous tone; “Highwayman,” a haunting ballad of reincarnation; and “Song of the Nile,” a sprawling 10-minute epic dealing with gnostic mythology. Heavy bands rarely sing lyrical concerns worth further exploration, but in The Gathering, Arbouretum has successfully turned the stuff of dreams into reality.
Buy it from Thrill Jockey here.