Gutbucket – Flock

January 01, 1970

(Cuneiform)

 

www.cuneiformrecords.com

 

John
Zorn’s band Naked City was probably the band that
could play anything. Consisting of five musicians from the Downtown New York
experimental scene in the ’90s, they could cover Henry Mancini and Ornette
Coleman in the same breath as Live Skull, with numerous Zorn originals in their
book. Yet they’re probably best remembered for their leader’s collision of
metal, thrash and jazz, which manifested itself in blasts that could last from
30 seconds down to a mere eight, often with the Boredoms’ Yamatsuka Eye
caterwauling on top. The precision was staggering but after the tenth
mini-onslaught, enough was enough.

 

Gutbucket
bears some resemblance to Naked
City. They share the
alto/guitar/bass/drums instrumentation, with two members overdubbing keyboards
as needed. These Brooklyn guys can be just as
brutal or technically dizzying when they so desire. But by and large, they give
the composition higher priority than a clever delivery. For every example of
them getting tangled up in a mathematical equation, they can rock their way out
of it.

 

All
four members of Gutbucket get at least one composition on Flock, their fifth album. Song titles get a little too clever (see
below) but there are no vocals, Zappa-style or otherwise, so everyone should
shut up and listen. “Fuck You and Your Hipster Tie” starts the program with a
jerky power chords topped by Ken Thomson’s pungent alto. In the climax, Thomson
overdubs a flock of horns that sound like screaming birds on the horizon and he
adds tension to the already boiling riff. It’s a strong start, and one that
contrasts with one of the saxophonist’s other tunes. “d0g Help Us” is built on
staccato stop-start bursts of notes which the quartet plays together in lock
step. It was annoying when the Mahavishnu Orchestra did it and it’s annoying
here. But this math rock/prog moment is more of an aberration.

 

Guitarist
Ty Citerman’s tracks are built around long tones with droning, scraping bass
lines in “Murakami.” He does something 
similar in “Said the Trapeze to Gravity (Why Are You So Old?)” closing
this mouthful of track a prepared guitar that emits some noises that sound like
free jazz violin or trumpet smears a la Lester Bowie. (Without looking at the
credits, it’s impossible to tell what that noise is.)

 

The
last quarter of the album is taken up by bassist Eric Rockwin’s three-part
“Born Again Atheist Suite.” Going through a wide sonic territory, its third
section contains the most surprises, which include the brief appearance of a
pop chord change that could’ve been borrowed from Burt Bacharach, and an
unaccompanied alto solo that begins like an Irish reel and ends up with a
flurry Anthony Braxton squeals that even seems to leave Thomson breathless.

 

Too
often, bands that irreverently blend styles like this come off sounding either
too eggheaded or too smug. Gutbucket, who have been doing this for a dozen
years, have an adolescent sense of rebellion to their music that comes at that
age, but they also know when to cut the comedy and get down to business.

 

DOWNLOAD: “Fuck You and Your
Hipster Tie,” “Born Again Atheist Suite Part 3: Turning Manischewitz into
Wine.” MIKE
SHANLEY

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