Ambition shouldn't only be accounted for in numbers, but within the music itself. This ideal wouldn't be as common if more bands, orchestras, and collectives actually followed it, because many see fit to have their members perform using photocopies of a single sheet. The product of this is often harmonious, tightly conducted, and admirable, but rarely is its uniformity considered. In turn, the concept of free-jazz can be invigorating and/or alienating for newcomers, seldom bringing about an apathetic reaction-- it's pure, untainted ardor.
Luke Bergman works toward this school leading King Tears Bat Trip, a band whose name seems culled from the Beefheartian bible. The colossal prospect of KTBT isn't accomplished alone, for Bergman on detuned guitar enlists the support of Neil Welch on tenor saxophone; drummers Thomas Campbell, Kristian Garrard, Chris Icasiano, and Evan Woodle; and Brandon Lucia on the Chango, a sound program Lucia designed himself in April of last year. The magnitude and peculiarity of the instruments couldn't be any less deceptive.
KTBT's debut rips through two burning 18-minute sessions modernizing the classic free-jazz persuasion of Albert Ayler, Pharaoh Sanders, and late-'60s John Coltrane with present-day avant-garde means. The restless drum circle forms a multidimensional tribal rhythm: one player shuffling against a snare, one agitating the hi-hat, one producing mountainous tom patterns, and another coloring the ensemble with embellishments of miscellaneous percussion. Welch's melodies are distinctly folk-reminiscent, on "Stolen Police Car" bellowing with repetition and wavering force to a hypnotic degree. KTBT fly their freak-flag triumphantly, often slipping into sweltering free-form tangents.
The band's noise-dedicated elements-- Bergman's guitar and Lucia's Chango-- are a challenge to parse amidst the other members' volume. When KTBT indulge in cacophony, most prevalent on the finale of "Elevenogram", these instruments migrate to the foreground to conjure bizarre tonalities best described in onomatopoeia. Altogether, the septet propel whimsy into an otherwise abstract class of jazz with a cohesively bold, anthemic, and perplexing assault.
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