JAMES BLOOD - Tales Of Captain Black LP (Artists House/1978)
I've probably run the Ulmer thing into the ground after that entry the other week, but when I get obsessed, I really get obsessed, so as of late I've been revisiting my Ulmer discs on a highly regular basis, and for me, this 1978 No Wave outing still remains his masterwork. Musically, it's much different to the records he was releasing in the early '80s, which were more "rock" and far more aggressive in approach (having flogged Black Rock for the last 2 weeks solid, it baffles me more and more that a label like Columbia actually let him explore his punk-funkisms for three straight albums). Not that ...Captain Black ain't pretty darn out there: w/ Ornette and his son Denardo play in this quartet, the approach and result is almost identical to the godlike grooves present on Ornette's own No Wave punk-funk discs from the same period, such as Dancing In Your Head and Body Meta, and you (oughta) know that that's a fine thing. The songs here don't really sound like they have a beginning or end; merely musical sketches which give themselves the freedom to play around each other, as if each player is jamming in a seperate room. That probably makes this sound like a shambles, but it ain't. The playing is crisp and clean, and feel is, as said, of a band playing around each other, and not over each other. Sounds pretty damn obvious that the likes of D. Boon and Joe Baiza were definitely giving this a spin at the time - well, they were, as was even resident SST hardarse, Joe Carducci, and that counts for something! - and it's a crying shame that this remains out of print in the West to this day. There is a version available on Japan's DIW label, though it unfortunately doesn't replicate the original, stunning art, or the psychedelic gatefold comic, or even any of the terrific booklet featuring sketches, rants and music notes from the original 1978 LP. Much like their version of 1980's Are You Glad To Be In America?, they've designed their own fuggawful sleeve for the benefit of no one. More's the pity.