I can’t pretend to “get” Free Jazz too often. If you knew me, which of course you don’t because I’m just a name on a screen to you, that previous statement may have made you raise an eyebrow. This mild show of interest would probably have been triggered when you tried to reconcile that you know I love experimental music, early industrial, and noise; musical forms that all have roots in improvisation and branches in eye-twitch-inducing sounds, with the fact that free jazz holds little appeal for me.
You’d say, “I really can’t even begin to understand the ins-and-outs of your tastes, Ryan.”
And I would say something really disappointing and non-committal, like “I dunno.”
Luckily enough, Northern Spy has stepped in to fill in the holes and complete the code like John Hammond with a bucket full of frog DNA. The debut album from New York quintet Black Host is likely to draw one of the stranger and more diverse followings out there, featuring the combined talents of Gerald Cleaver, Cooper-Moore, Brandon Seabrook, Darius Jones, and Pascal Niggenkemper. Their first step into a larger world is entitled Life in the Sugar Candle Mines and consists of eight tracks of straight-up weird, noisy, snare-driven jazz with a nice trimming of piano. All of it plays with the jazz improvisation firmly entrenched in the collective unconscious and festoons it with guitars, saxophone, and synthesizers that poke around the edges of post-punk and noise. The result is not quite a missing link nor a natural descendant of any one musical origin. This shambling, stitched-up creation makes its way off the operating table and into the sunlight (or moonlight perhaps) on May 28; hear a representative track below. I would ask that at least one person get a copy and then do their level best to explain where in my brain the disconnect between various improvised forms of music happens.
Life in the Sugar Candle Mines tracklist:
02. Ayler Children
03. Citizen Rose
08. May Be Home