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The Friday Morning Listen

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First posted on Mark Is Cranky:

I do believe that there just might be a major error in the Guinness Book of World Records. They’re claiming that the loudest animal sound is made by the blue whale.

Hmmmm…not that I want to be a know-it-all or anything but I’m fairly certain that the loudest animal noise ever made was by tenor sax player Peter Brotzmann. This was back in 1986 during the recording of the Last Exit record Koln. The blue whale can emit noises measured at 188 decibels. Hah! Brotzmann’s sax was at least 392 bazillion dB. Ted Nugent used to make claims that his guitar could “blow the balls off a charging rhino at twenty paces”. Ah, big freaking deal! Brotzmann’s sax would make the Nuge run to the store, pick up a new pair of Birkenstocks and head off to aromatherapy class.

But seriously folks…The band Last Exit was a sort of supergroup of improvised jazz. Peter Brotzmann on tenor sax. Sonny Sharrock on electric guitar. The rhythm section (if you can call it that) was comprised of Ronald Shannon Jackson on drums and Bill Laswell on bass.

Koln is a recording of indescribable beauty and brutality. There certainly are quiet moments on it but they just allow you to exhale and maybe prepare yourself for the blast to follow. Laswell and Jackson can set up quite the rhythm bed, Jackson following a sort of twisted take on a blues shuffle and Laswell aggressively punctuating the shifts in time. If you dare, give a listen to the second track, “Brain Damage”. It starts out with Jackson playing lightly on the snare while vocalizing in what can only be described as a jazz version of speaking in tongues. The frightening wail of Brotzmann’s horn kicks in and severely ratchets up the tension. By the time that Sharrock comes shrieking in, the sound is almost industrial in nature. I tell ya, it’s the jazz band in Hell’s Cocktail Lounge.

I had a business meeting this morning at 8:30AM and needed something extra-righteous to get me going. Koln was just what the doctor ordered. The funny thing is that this morning was the first time I had a chance to listen to it since the initial purchase last Saturday (the other disc I picked up, just to have something in complete diametrical opposition, was Diana Krall’s Girl In The Other Room). So…if you’re looking to expand your listening horizons, need to clear the house of unwanted guests or would just like to piss off your neighbors, Koln is for you.

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About Mark Saleski