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℗ 2008

℗ 2013 barin99.livejournal.com 0901 638

Barnacled • 2008 • Charles

All kinds of music tossed in a blender can claim either diversity, or inanity and an unfocused noisy precept. Barnacled, hailing from Providence, RI, has no issues in mixing and matching multiple genres and instrumentation, ranging from prog rock, English Canterbury fusion, new wave '60s Impulse label saxophone jazz, various ethnic musics, calculated racket, the speak and spell toy or shortwave radio, and interstellar space sounds. Doing it all with no electric guitar present, the septet forges alchemistic gold from pewter, making improvised and thematic music that weaves in and out of earth, sea, and sky in a spontaneous manner similar to several '70s groups in the progressive music field. It's not difficult to hear the reference points utilized by Barnacled, starting with 'Title,' a fun, skronky jam with maddening mixed meters that echoes shades of early Gong, Henry Cow, the Muffins, and Eastern block or gypsy music. The most developed piece, 'Language Barrier,' features electric keyboardist Frank Difficult in a Sun Ra, Saturn based mode, using deeply hued galactic or robot-like phrasings. Collectively the band heads for dark and suggestive socialist territory - again a la Henry Cow - with the bassoon of Erica Schattle and sister Ann Schattle on her 'horn in F' playing a chamber segment, then a march rock stomp, very loose and loud. They discover beautiful and serene moments during 'Polyurethane,' switch back and forth from minimalist tuning up seriousness to free, controlled, but purely interactive improvisation. This sense of a conversational precept continues on 'Three Rapid Fire Shell Divisions,' as the horns trade off with drumkit workouts in banter, or argumentative discourse. 'Losing Weight Through Prayer' is a nuevo tango vehicle that morphs into heavy rock, while the whirling dervish 'Rattles' is more hard-edged punk thrash, especially from drummer Matt McLaren and bassist Michael Jeffries. 'Simulacrum' finishes this incredible journey through sound experimentation, with oceanic lighthouse beacons from the horns of Jeffries on baritone sax and the alto sax of Jason McGill switching on and off, while percussion clatters, the accordion of Alec K. Redfearn moans, and the band dances away to a Balkan beat. Aside from the concept inherent in this retro music being updated, the impressive musicianship and consistently fearless choices made by Barnacled turns this album into one of the more intriguing and enlivening modern-day fusions of recent memory, and perhaps for all time.

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