Sunday, June 24, 2012


DON CHERRY - ORGANIC MUSIC SOCIETY

Oh boy, it's been a special week of music indeed, whether the greater populace of planet earth knows it or not (they don't, trust me on that). Not only was the monumental Can 3CD box of previously unissued gems, The Lost Tapes, released to the public (I'll cover it at a later date), but one of the great "lost" LPs of the early '70s - of any genre, and I say that because it's nigh impossible to peg a genre it could neatly fill - has finally been re-released for the first time in 40 years(!). I've tried getting my hands on Don Cherry's Organic Music Society 2LP set from 1973 for nearly a decade, and I've never seen it listed on ebay for less than $200, never seen it locally and never in my life would I pay such stupid money for a goddamn record. So the only copy which has been in my possession all these years is a burn I downloaded from a blog about 5 years back. Faaaaark that! Now I've got two big chunks of 12" wax in my hands, housed in a stupendous gatefold sleeve w/ all-new liner notes by jazzbo all-rounder John Corbett (the man responsible for Atavistic's Unheard Music Series, which saw some mighty discs by the likes of Fred Anderson, Joe McPhee, Sun Ra, Evan Parker, Peter Brotzmann et al back in print), and funnily enough, it's actually back in circulation on the very same label which released it all those years ago: Sweden's Caprice, a label which, from what I can gather, performs a public service documentation-of-sound not unlike Folkways or France's Ocora imprints.


I have written about the genius of Don Cherry several times before on this blog, noting that, in particular, his recorded output from the years approx. 1965-1975 represent some sort of epoch of recorded sound, not unlike that of Pharoah Sanders and Alice Coltrane from the same period, or Miles Davis from 1969-1975: a shapeshifting beast which could not be defined, one which incorporated elements of avant-jazz, world music, psychedelia and an indefinable something which separates it from most music as we know it. For Miles, that je ne sais quoi was his absolute bullheadedness, his willingness to take his musical vision to the nth degree, releasing album upon (double) album of impenetrable acid-funk to a public which didn't appear to care at the time (except for the Japanese). For Alice Coltrane and Sanders, it's the deep spirituality - even for an agnostic heathen such as myself - which lends the music an otherworldly quality, but Cherry's music from this period is something else. He was living in Sweden at the time - self-exiled from the US and refusing to live in his homeland until Amerika pulled out of Vietnam - w/ his Swedish wife, Monika Karlsson, his son, Eagle-Eye and step-daughter, Neneh. There they lived in a school, existing semi-communaly w/ musicians both local and from around the globe. The Swedish musos in question look like cast members from the Baader-Meinhof group. The nature of the music within is far removed from what many people would consider jazz. For myself, it has far more in common, musically and aesthetically, with the anarchistic, communal sounds of Can and Amon Duul than what one would even often refer to as "avant-jazz".
Organic Music Society is not the best Cherry album there is: let's get that straight. For me, that's a toss-up between two very different discs: 1971's live 2LP epic, Orient (a desert-isle disc for me) and 1975's Brown Rice, a relatively slick studio effort from 1975 on A & M which features the great Frank Lowe on screeching tenor and combines deep grooves w/ free jazz and ethnic rhythms, sounding like the perfect meeting of Can and Miles. There are others, and I have spoke of them before (his 3 Blue Note LPs from the late '60s, Eternal Rhythm, Tibet, Blue Lake, Mu parts 1 & 2, the Codona trio albums on ECM, etc.), but let's discuss the one in question. The only drawback with OMS is the questionable recording quality of a couple of the tracks, most notably the ones listed as being recorded as part of the "Dome Session" (I wish those tracks had been remastered and the sound levels pushed up considerably, as they are much quieter than other parts of the record), but that quibble aside, there is much to recommend here: the opening cut, "North Brazilian Ceremonial Hymn", featuring his Codona partner, Nana Vasconcelos, is an excellent start, an epic chant which sets the scene. The two long pieces on side B, "Relativity Suite" parts 1 & 2, are beautifully minimal percussive/vocal numbers; and "Bra Joe From Kilimanjaro" (a Dollar Brand tune), "Terry's Tune" (Terry Riley) and "Resa" round out the set perfectly: the latter featuring "the voices of teachers at the summer course in Oskarshamn", and "Bra Joe..." featuring a youth orchestra. The version of Pharoah Sanders'/Leon Thomas' "The Creator Has A Master Plan", unfortunately, also would've been a whole lot better had the recording quality been slightly clearer.
OMS is a hodge-podge collection of tunes pieced together from various recording sessions (mostly mobile recording units) featuring various and varying line-ups, but pieced together it makes a radical statement of intent: a mixture of personnel and sounds from around the globe - jazz, psychedelia, ragas, African and Brazilian chants, minimalism - all housed in a gloriously gatefold garish cover which possesses the psychedelic day-glo of classic kraut on the outside and the cut & paste amateurism of DIY punk on the inside. Placed right next to the likes of Tago Mago, Yeti, Disaster, Get Up With It, Dark Magus, Live-Evil, Big Fun and Cherry's other essential records of the period like Orient and Blue Lake, it's a totally essential 2LP "head" set I can recommend without any hesitancy whatsoever.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

ALL HAIL MILWAUKEE

Late last month in Milwaukee was the Lest We Forget concert/showcase/mini-festival, featuring reunited bands from the '70s/'80s such as Sacred Order, Tense Experts, Lubricants et al. I wasn't there, of course, though I sure wish I was. For one, a reunited Die Kreuzen played, sans guitarist Brian Egeness. I was iffy when I heard he couldn't make it, although subsequent views of their performance at the show have allayed all fears. They picked up the Jay Tiller from '80s metallic post-HC rockers, Couch Flambeau, to fill in, and his playing is absolutely spot on. And considering the sheer fuggin' righteousness of Egeness' string-plucking on those 'Kreuzen discs, that's no mean feat. I'd heard that the Oil Tasters were tipped to play, when the idea of the show was first floated about a while ago, but tragically singer/bassist Richard La Valliere passed away earlier this year (read an obituary/article here) and it wasn't to be. I have never actually been to Milwaukee, but some of you may know that I have, through strange circumstances which were never really planned, been "connected" to the music scene there for a while, mainly through having written this article for Perfect Sound Forever many eons ago, but also having re/issued several recordings by Milwaukee outfits on the Lexicon Devil label: F/i, Boy Dirt Car, Vocokesh and the Oil Tasters. Some interesting developments have taken place of late: other than DK playing a reunion show, both F/i and Boy Dirt Car recently played together and are even set to release a split LP (not by me!) as a kind of commemoration of their original split on the RRR label all those years ago (I did reissue that one). One of the great things which came out of the Lest We Forget show has been the abundance of clips which have recently sprung up on Youtube. These clips were originally played at the concert and have subsequently been leaked/shared for the world to see. Some of these are below.





These Oil Tasters clips are hot, hot, HOT... and I'd never seen 'em 'til this week. One interesting tidbit I found out this week whilst messaging back and forth w/ Joe Carducci (who originally released their sole LP on his Thermidor imprint): Black Flag wanted the Oil Tasters to tour w/ 'em in '82, but it never happened because OT split, and Ginn & Hank were so enamoured w/ the group that they considered releasing a Black Flag cover of the 'Tasters' "That's When The Brick Goes Through The Window" on 7" as a kind of fuck-you to Unicorn (whom they were involved in legal disputes w/ at the time... as you know). Huh!
Whilst yer at it, check out the Couch Flambeau clips below. I really gotta get onto their case, and toot sweet. Heard about 'em for years - Byron & Jimmy at Forced Exposure always dug 'em - but have never bothered investigating their wares (and only via Youtube clips!) until now. A sad (and strange) state of affairs, especially considering my long-running fandom for Milwaukee sounds, but sometimes life has other priorities. FE always compared 'em to MX-80 Sound - a kind of post-punk avant-metal, if you will - and they hit the nail right on the head there. This is crunching, demented metalloid art-rock shit and I need to grab me some. More on them in the future...





And rounding this off is a few clips from the mighty Haskells, who featured Richard La Valliere and Guy Hoffman, both pre-Oil Tasters. Again, heard the name for years, for obvious reasons, but never investigated. My buddy Rich, when I mentioned their name to him just this week, gave me an eye-roll and a duh!, as if I'd been asleep on the issue for a dog's age. Obviously, I have. The Haskells have been a notorious Killed By Death band since that series began, a series I remain sadly ignorant of (I always use this excuse for my ignorance, take it or leave it: by the time the series began, I was too bored of "punk rock" in general to care about the zillions of allegedly great small-town bands who released a killer 7" in their brief lifespans being belatedly documented via KBD for the semi-masses whom I should apparently know about. Does that make any sense? Probably not, and I guess that makes me a lame-arse). Anyway! Their vaguely Groovies-style garage crunch sounds unreal to me in 2012. Go figure. Enjoy.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


IN PRAISE OF ORNETTE

Again, I'll say it: this blog has been going for over 8 years, there's more than 600 entries, and yet I've written next to sweet FA about one of my fave musicians of them all. This time 'round, it's Ornette Coleman. Along w/ Albert Ayler and Eric Dolphy, he was the first "jazz" musician who made a dent in my psyche. I'd known of the guy since high school - rockers as disparate as the Minutemen and the Grateful Dead sung his praise - but I'm not going to bullshit you and claim that I was a jazzhead at such a crisp age. Fact is, until I was 21, when I first bought recordings by Ayler, Sun Ra, Dolphy and Ornette, I didn't know jack-shit about it, other than the names I was meant to check out. As w/ some of the other giants of the genre who recorded heavily, whether their lives were long or brief, such as John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Steve Lacy, Sun Ra, Charles Mingus, etc., the discography of Ornette Coleman is a can of worms well worth opening, but if you don't know where to begin, you may need a guide to help you through. That's not necessarily where I come in - shit, there's a thousand sites out there doing exactly the same thing - but at this stage I'm just gonna ramble and see where this post takes me...



Ornette was born in Texas in 1930 - that'd make him 82 right now - and like many from his era renowned for their pioneering work in the jazz field, he actually made his start as a professional musician in the early R & B scene. Coltrane first honked a horn to the great blues shouter, Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson; Ornette blew the brass (that's the alto sax, although he has, since the '60s, also dabbled in violin and trumpet work) for the west coast R & B guitarist/singer, Pee Wee Crayton (there's a cool CD of his works - sans Ornette - on Ace here). And so it goes... he struck a recording contract w/ Atlantic in the late '50s and recorded a slew - or 6 of 'em - classic records for the label in a brief period. Featuring the likes of the great Don Cherry, Charlie Haden and Billy Higgins within his crew, he cut ace discs such as The Shape Of Jazz To Come, Change Of The Century, Free Jazz and This Is Our Music, records which made jazz squares run for the hills and turned the whole genre upside down and onto its ass. Listening to these recordings now, especially after being exposed to hard-arsed Euro-blasters such as Peter Brotzmann and Evan Parker for umpteen years, or even Ayler's Spiritual Unity from just a few years later (a record which marked an even stronger departure from jazz-as-we-know-it than any of Ornette's earlier discs), they kinda make you wonder why everyone was so afraid of the guy (they sound like a totally logical extension of the musical innovations of Charlie Parker to me: bebop w/ a higher energy level), but I guess those were different times.
The most exceptional platter from that era is 1961's Free Jazz, a disc which gave a name to the genre (by accident) and features a unique set-up: a "double-quartet" who belt out a sea of collective improvisation, each quartet playing out of a different speaker. It was, is and forever shall be one of the great recorded head-fucks of all time, features the likes of Eric Dolphy, Freddie Hubbard and Scott La Faro (later to join Bill Evans' trio) in its mix and there are few other records in the world of "jazz" you need more than it. There's also two other records from the period well worth grabbing yer mitts on: The Art Of The Improvisers and Twins, both released belatedly at the dawn of the 1970s and both of which contain various odds & sods recorded but never released from the Atlantic period. The Water label from San Fran reissued these on CD back in 2008, featuring Byron Coley liners as a sweetener, and they're excellent accompinaments to the official, "thematic" LPs from '59-'61.



After his Atlantic contract was up, Ornette's catalogue went through various labels for the next decade and a half. He released Town Hall, 1962 in that year for the ESP-Disk label, and despite the imprint's rep as the be-all and end-all of '60s avant-jazz, it's one of Ornette's less interesting recordings, featuring a trio on 2 tracks and an attempt at a "classical"/string recording on the other. Whilst not "bad" by any stretch, unless you're a completist, you don't need it (I, of course, still own the fuckin' thing). There's some cool Ornette discs on the Blue Note label from the '60s: At The Golden Circle Stockholm, volumes 1 & 2 (live dates from Sweden featuring a trio from 1965); the excellent Empty Foxhole from '66, featuring his 10-year-old son Denardo on drums and Ornette on sax/trumpet/violin; as well as Love Call and New York Is Now!, both from 1968 and featuring the likes of Jimmy Garrison and Elvin Jones (from Coltrane's original quartet) as the rhythm section.
He also cut a few ace discs for the Impulse! label, the best of which is Crisis, a live LP from '69 recorded at NYU, featuring the stellar line-up of Ornette/Denardo/Cherry/Redman/Haden, the instrumentation of sax/trumpet/bass/drums as well as clarinet, cornet and Indian flute (the latter two from Cherry) and the whole band at their most fiery, politicised peak. That old red, Chuck Haden, even let his freak flag fly w/ his composition, "Song For Che". There's other hot tracks such as "Space Jungle", "Trouble In The East" and "Broken Shadows", and for my money, this is another of the absolutely essential platters which matter. And here's the caveat: so far as I can tell, this has not ever been released on CD, and if it has, it was probably only ever in Japan and you'd have to pay through your teeth to procure it. Good luck. I scored an original LP from a dumb-fuck "friend" about 15 years back who traded it for something I didn't want (I forget what it was). If only there were more suckers like that around... Backtracking a touch, one disc from the mid '60s - 1965, to be precise - well worth yer time & trouble is Chappaqua Suite. Originally recorded as the soundtrack to the Conrad Rooks film, Chappaqua, it was never used (Rooks really liked it, so much so that he thought it would "overpower" the film), although briefly issued on record then deleted by Columbia. It's since been reissued several times (I have a '90s 2CD set on a European label; don't ask me, it's buried under a pile of shit in the spare room), and it's a good thing indeed. Pharoah Sanders makes an appearance and the use of an orchestra never distracts from the high-energy blowing.



Wow... this is taking longer than I expected, but I guess you don't chew up over 50 years of records in a mere soundbyte. He also released two unreal LPs for Columbia in '71: Broken Shadows and Science Fiction. These are available as a handsomely packaged/priced twofer c/o Sony, packed w/ bonus cuts. Like Crisis, they feature Ornette & crew at their most "out" and political, particularly Science Fiction (a disc I included in my Top 100 Albums Of All Time list I hope you ignored about 5 years back), which has the blaster, "Rock The Clock" in its fold; whilst Broken Shadows even features the presence of the slightly more staid jazz six-stringer, Jim Hall (though his presence is felt, and it's good). By around 1973, Ornette started incorporating electric instruments to his set-up, not in a slick-dick fusionoid sense, but very much within a jagged, Beefheartish and, dare I say, "proto-No Wave" style. The great James "Blood" Ulmer joined the ranks on guitar, he experimented w/ 2 drummers, electric bass and the kind of polyrhythms which would give anyone less a headache. He called it "harmolodics". If you can figure out what the fuck "harmolodics" really are, then you're doing better than me. More importantly, he released two excellent discs in 1976 showcasing this style, and you can still get 'em: Dancing In Your Head (A & M, of all labels; they also issued Don Cherry's mind-bending Brown Rice that same year: they musta had someone w/ a brain in their jazz A & R dept. at the time) and Body Meta, issued on Coleman's own Artists House label (who also released James Ulmer's awe-inspiring Tales Of Captain Black LP in 1978, featuring Ornette. I wrote about it here. It is a record every home should own and one which, for one fuggin' dumb reason or another, remains out of print: a travesty of historical proportions, especially since the only version of it being available in living memory was the Japanese CD on DIW which DIDN'T EVEN REPLICATE THE MIND-FRYING ARTWORK OF THE ORIGINAL. But allow me to exit these parentheses and get on w/ the task at hand). Where was I? Dancing In Youyr Head... there are 2 tracks w/ his basic band at the time (featuring Bern Nix on guitar and Ronald Shannon Jackson on drums), "Theme From A Symphony" parts 1 & 2, which demonstrate this angular, shuffling jazz/rock style to great effect, as well as a track recorded w/ the Master Musicians Of Jajouka, which also features the revered (at least by me!) musician/writer Robert Palmer on clarinet (that's the Palmer of Deep Blues, not the pop/soul vocalist... do I need to explain this?). Body Meta? Same deal, except there's no Jajouka track, and I probably like this more as a recording: the scattershot rhythms fly in so many directions, the songs move at such a frantic pace - it's busy - but deeply satisfying. These records are remarkable documents from a musician who was always looking for new and exciting modes of expression and, more importantly, getting it right. "No Wave" as a genre, scene, sound or idea had barely formulated itself by the year 1976, and yet Ornette Coleman, so far as I see it, beat every single one of those pretentious a-hole junkies to the punch and then some.
And then there's the 1980s... releases are more thin on the ground from this period onwards, both in terms of actual recordings released and also in terms of those I own and/or have heard. I am only in possession of three of 'em: 1985's Song X, a surprising collaboration w/ permed-out jazz honky guitarist, Pat Metheny, which has a terrific energy running through its veins; 1995's Tone Dialing, a disc which received great kudos at the time and does possess moments of greatness, but from memory (I haven't listened to it in a decade or more) also contains a few unfortunate stabs at "rapping" from a guest vocalist; and 2006's Sound Grammar, a great, back-to-basics quartet effort (feat. Denardo on skins) which doesn't sound too far removed from his late '50s recordings.
Like I said: you don't sum up a 50+-year career in a mere soundbyte. There's a dozen or more "official" recordings I haven't covered here (the '80s Caravan Of Dreams records w/ his No Wave unit, Prime Time, which are supposed to be good; his soundtrack to Cronenberg's Naked Lunch, et al), but you'll have to fill in the gaps yourself. Regardless, what's been mentioned above will keep you off the streets for a while. There's also a few cool bootlegs floating around; one I can recommend highly is Live In Paris 1971 on the Spanish Jazz Row label: a hot quartet live show packed w/ energy and pretty mint recording quality.
Now where did all this lead us? Nowhere in particular.  If Ornette died 30 years, he'd still have cemented his rep as one of the great originators of 20th-century music. He's still alive and playing among us. He even did a show in Sydney a few years back (I missed it), one which attendees speak of in high reverence. Like Miles Davis, he was always finding new ways of self-expression, and this course he took - much like Miles similarly did from he 1950s-1970s - saw him criss-crossing the music world in all manners. For Miles, it went from the cool to the Gil Evans period to the classic quartet to the electric phase. When Ornette first started making a name for himself, Miles came out in the press and derided his music as tuneless rubbish, but Miles always was an asshole, god bless him. He later retracted that statement and claimed to be a fan. Whatever. Ornette was ahead of the pack, always. Listen to those electric LPs of his from the mid '70s: they sound like Rough Trade-style "post-punk" or Eno's No New York 2 to 3 years before those scenes gestated then blossomed. He led the way for all the blasters in the '60s through his 1950s innovations: that's a fact. Pay the man some goddamn respect!

Thursday, June 07, 2012



This reissue probably didn't make Michael Gira's day, but I'm sure as shit glad that it's seen the light of day once more. I've written about Swans many times before on this blog. If you're up for a thrillride of a lifetime, try searching for my entries on much-loved Swans platters such as Cop, Children Of God or White Light From The Mouth Of Infinity (my fave three discs of theirs). They were, as I've said before, a big deal band for me back in the day, one of the league of bands I got heavily into during that just-post-high-school malaise of 1990/'91, when I was sick of hardcore and SST bands for the while and getting into heavy-hitters like Die Kreuzen, Bongwater, Chrome, etc. Sentimental faves, visionaries, and oh how I love them so... And then there's The Burning World, their 1989 major-label "failure", the only Swans disc I have ever owned and actually sold. And now I have it all over again, except this time I didn't pay for it. Just reissued on CD by the good folks at Water, the San Fran imprint which has released other excellent oldies by the likes of Michael Rother, Flipper, Harmonia, Judee Sill, Gilberto Gil, Cluster, Pearls Before Swine, Terry Reid, Don Cherry, Ian Matthews, etc. in the past decade, I've procured a freebie and spun it on repeat the past few weeks. I'm not convinced it's a lost gem in their catalogue, although I'm also not convinced that Michael Gira should be so ashamed and/or disgusted with the release that his desire to never see it reissued should be upheld.
 Originally released in 1989 by MCA, The Burning World was thoroughly shitcanned by all and sundry and ended the band's major-label career in one fell swoop. Not only did it win them no new fans, their legion of older followers deemed it a limp-dicked sell-out and a complete betrayal of everything Swans once stood for: an uncompromising sense of integrity completely at odds w/ the world. Hey, I'm just giving you the background story. The fact is, bizarre as it was at the time that the band even secured a major record deal in the pre-Nirvana world, a time when only the likes of Husker Du and the Replacements had done such a thing, Swans did manage to come back from the dead a mere 2 years later w/ what I would probably consider the best album of their career, 1991's White Light... I do recall a particularly nasty review by Lydia Lunch in Forced Exposure, in which she compared the album to a B-grade, gutless take on Leonard Cohen or Nick Cave... I can't remember the last time Lunch made a record anyone would want to listen to, but never mind...
The Burning World was produced by stalwart/gun-for-hire/man-of-a-thousand-releases, Bill Laswell, and Gira has since said time and again that, despite his obvious production skills elsewhere, he was the wrong man for the job. The major-label budget also saw the band hiring notable session players such as old Ornette/Don Cherry sideman Karl Berger on strings and vibes, Nick Skopilitis and Fred Frith on various instruments, and tabla player, Trilok Gurtu, and whilst the players augment the basic Swans trio of Gira, Jarboe and Norman Westberg quite nicely with a sound which seems entrenched in a kind of folk/world hybrid, it totally lacks the crunch and dynamics so everpresent in all of their other releases. The production is flat, the drums never boom and the instruments never soar. Maybe Laswell was the guy for the job, or maybe Gira just didn't know what he was doing and was too set on pleasing his corporate masters w/ a more mainstream and less abrasive sound. You'd have to ask him. One of them fucked up somewhere, or more likely both of them did.
By no means, however, is The Burning World a lost cause. There's still some great songs, even if their delivery doesn't always fully satisfy. If "Saved" and "God Damn The Sun" had the Spector/Steinman Wall Of Sound so perfected on White Light... (a record featuring a production job of astonishing power), then they'd be amongst some of the band's best tracks. Most of the songs, in fact, sound like they could've come from both Children Of God and White Light..., it's just the lack of aggression and power in their delivery which lets them down. The band also tackle Blind Faith's "Can't Find My Way Home", a track I've always loved, despite the fact that I detest Eric Clapton like no other figure in popular music from the past 50 years, and their version is excellent. It's admittedly a hard track to fuck up, especially when you have a small army of hot session musos backing you up, but it's a beautiful rendition, and one I remember being played heavily on public radio at the time down here. Other tracks on the album, such as "The River That Runs With Love Won't Run Dry" and "Mona Lisa, Mother Earth" drip heavily w/ the spiritual vibe the band were heavy on at the time, a sense of redemption after the dark years of the early/mid '80s, and if you're not used to their schtick then they'll probably churn your belly. But if you know the career-long trip of Swans and what it means - ultimate redemption - and put it in the context of what it is Swans are, then they're pieces which fit into the jigsaw puzzle. I'm not saying I'm going to flog The Burning World like I do the best Swans platters, but it's most definitely not the turkey it was once deemed to be. The years have been kind, kinder than they've been to me, and it's good to have it back. This time I promise not to sell it.

Here's something worth blabbin' about: a rerelease of a deep, spiritual jazz rarity from, of all places, Atlanta, Georgia. I first heard a track from this on the radio a couple of months back when I was on a work-related car trip. The track in question hit me hard (it's posted below): I had to hear the back-announcement so I could get a handle on who it was. It sounded like it must've come from the early '70s, probably self-released and arriving at that moment in history when black self-empowerment saw a rise in excellent black-owned indies releasing all kinds of one-off, strange and unique releases in the jazz, soul & funks fields. You know the deal. The DJ made the announcement: it was the seven-piece outfit known as Azanyah, from their recently-reissued album, The One, put out by the UK imprint, Jazzman. Jazzman, as you may or may not know (or care), are the label responsible for my fave reissue of the year thus far, Spiritual Jazz 2: Esoteric, Modal and Deep Jazz From The European Underground 1960-1978 (I reviewed it here a few months back), so I knew I had to get my mitts on this one. And that I did. One of the oddest things about Azanyah is the fact that their sole self-released LP was recorded and issued in the year 1987. What the hell were you doing in 1987?? Listening to Sonic Youth and the Meat Puppets?! Yeah, me too. But I sure as shit wasn't aware of this kinda noise. More than that, I never woulda thought that this kinda released was still being made at the time. The One sounds like it came out of a 1972 timewarp, and it's all the better for it. Led by Jamaican-born/London-raised bass player, Amaniji Azanyah, and featuring the instrumentation of bass/drum/sax/flute/congas/drums/vocals/guitar, they cut out a mean, lo-fi groove which is deeply indebted to the greats of the genre - Pharoah Sanders, John/Alice Coltrane & Don Cherry - and stuck it right in the midst of Reagan-era America. The religious bent is heavy, as you can tell by the title track, but heavy-duty God-bothering is required in this field of sound and that sits well w/ me. There's 6 long tracks here, two of 'em over 10 minutes, and there's not a dud in the lot. This is not ecstatic free jazz burning a fire in your soul, it's deep modal sounds w/ plenty of layers to peel and the perfect late-night listen. The liner notes tell the fascinating story of the band, a group trying to etch out their own scene in a world which didn't give a shit at the time and in a community which was beholden to all things hip-hop, and their tenacity is your reward. They pressed up 500 copies of the original LP and you'd probably live on pasta for a month to pay for it. Take the cheaper option and get the LP/CD reissue before Jazzman decides to take it off the market, too (a practice they seem to be frustratingly fond of). If you want to hear an '80s disc totally out of its time and you dig the '60s/'70s gods Azanyah were obviously bowing down to, then The One is your ticket. One of 2012's best discoveries.