Zerx Records & Press


These Times -Review

Zerx 028
Review by Dave Wayne/ JazzWeekly

These Times comes on the heels of Deane's Grand Cross Eclipse (Zerx 024), and though the two disks were recorded about 12 years and 2000 miles apart, with different accompanying musicians, the similarities between these two recordings demonstrate how strong Deane's music-making concepts really are. Unlike Grand Cross Eclipse (reviewed here a couple of months ago - check the Jazz Weekly archive!), These Times is a live recording (at Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art). Overall, These Times is less dense, less frenetic and less tribal sounding than Grand Cross Eclipse. It is, however, no less adventurous.

Throughout the late 1980s, Deane was using drum machines in various musical settings with Jon Hassell, Butch Morris and Wayne Horvitz. Frisell was then somewhat of an underground figure in the world of jazz, though he was playing with Paul Motian, Power Tools and John Zorn, among others. All of the defining characteristics of his unique and oft-imitated guitar style were fully realized, however. Terry Rolleri - a new player to me - was working with Deane in various groups around the Bay Area. His creative use of unorthodox, or just plain weird, guitar tunings is readily apparent and provides counterpoint to Frisell's no less otherworldly sound.

Deane's trombone-triggered live electronics play a subordinate role to the oddly compatible twin electric guitars of Frisell and Rolleri. He even blows up a hurricane of honest-to-god acoustic trombone on "Rotocaster," and as part of a fierce exchange with Frisell on "Conversation." More prominent on These Times are Deane's drum machines. These are used to set up some very oddly stuttering grooves that may persist in various permutations for a bit before slipping into the background. Deane also likes to speed them up so that they produce humorously robotic whirrings and maniacal clickings - or slow them down so that they produce odd thumps almost at random (as on the title track). The overall effect, at times, reminds me of some of the more experimental varieties of Dub music, or perhaps a Paul Schutze Phantom City recording stripped of the bass and real drums. These Times offers quite a bit of sonic variety: there are darkly atmospheric soundscapes, bits of free jazz improvising, and some oddly humorous touches - like Frisell's country-blues slide guitar bits on "Conversation." An interesting recording, and one highly recommended for fans of experimental electronics, and distorted guitars (especially Frisell's).


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