BY FRED MILLS
Everything about this atavistic outfit—the moniker, album title and label name; the splatter/explosion colored vinyl of the two LPs; the ritualistic portraits of the three members making them look like some hirsute jungle tribe in full warpaint; and of course the skronky, jazzy, punk-improv music they emit—suggests violence and upheaval, a journey upstream into the heart of darkness. Not for nothing did filmmakers Ginger Berry and Fabian Aguirre title a documentary about the band Raw Material: the Unconscious Collective is the sound of an open, oozing wound.
It’s a good hurt, though. This notion is in full evidence on numbers like the blistering “Methane Rising,” in which a guest sax player joins guitarist Gregg Prickett and the Stefan-Aaron Gonzalez rhythm section (drums and bass, respectively) for a Zorn-esque free-for-all, and the pounding Prog-jazz blowout titled, appropriately enough, “The Transformation of Matter” (the group has been compared to Mahavishnu Orchestra and King Crimson, and rightly so).
Yet there’s still something strangely calming at the core of Pleistocene Moon. Early on, in the track “Tribe Apart,” a frenetic segment gradually gives way to elegant fretboard frissons and, ultimately, a gentle bass-led denouement. Later, in the lengthy “Kotsoteka” we hear the trio settle into a pulsing groove that, while “heavy” in the sense of volume, is so expertly devised from a dynamics point of view that it has a droning hypnotic effect upon the listener. These guys know how to read the star charts as they kick into interstellar overdrive.
Shifting gears at will and turning on the proverbial dime, Unconscious Collective makes their chaos sound easy, pushing the listener relentlessly until he or she bleeds (or suffocates)—but don’t try this at home, kids, ‘cos most municipalities have strict ordinances forbidding it! The band lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, so one imagines the musicians decamping to somewhere out in the surrounding desert in order to do their sonic conjuring. Pity the poor clueless traveler who comes upon the ritual by chance some moonless night…
DOWNLOAD: “The Transformation of Matter,” “Kotsoteka”