The Viennese are cooking up a bomb-ass free jazz canon that would make the Holy Roman Emperor’s head explode, and the Pope of Avignon sprout devil-wings and fly straight to hell. (Needless to say I don’t know my European history all that well, so I’m taking some liberties with the metaphors here, okay?) Epileptic Media’s 4way Split 2019, quietly unleashed to unsuspecting ears late last year, is not so much a traditional “split” as it is a compilation that foregrounds the contrasting styles of each jazz combo, but in the tradition of Discord’s Faith/Void pairing, it dissolves into a coherent, coagulating ooze of dissonant muck that gushes out of the same musical sewer in which we all languish aimlessly.
Just as Faith and Void are separate entitles more powerful when joined at the hip, so, too, I would exalt Mozo Mozo and Walser and Nadeshda and Didi… well, let’s get started.
Mozo Mozo is a completely explosive free-jazz noise-rock group that has already followed up on the material from this split with a self-titled debut, which you should check out here. If this were a traditional music rag, I’d be reviewing that ASAP, but instead I get to highlight three more kick-ass artists alongside them in a dense conceptual dialogue with their abrasive jams.
Mozo’s style ups the ante on modern Norwegian jazz-rock, exemplified by stoners like Bushman’s Revenge or jammers like Ultralyd, by screaming and blasting their way into extremities heretofore reserved for grindcore and death metal. They are not to be outdone by their companions on this release, but they certainly max out the volume and sheer destruction early in the first track.
For over a quarter of an hour, the drums don’t let up, though occasional dynamic shifts seem to only speed up the tempo to compensate for the hushed tension. The group’s guitarist, sounding like a coked-out hybrid of Bill Orcutt and Derek Bailey, may very well be attempting to choke the instrument. There’s no other way those sounds come out of an axe besides sheer merciless violence.
While Mozo Mozo’s 16-minute opus “12” bashes onward with squealing saxophones, broken guitars, and frenetic drumming, Walser’s “Soma” emulates Huxley’s fictional sedative drug with looping washes of ambient guitar, alien spaceship distress calls, and electronic glitches barely past the threshold of the audible. From one extreme to the other, earsplitting to hushed whisper, the A-side of this split seems to cover it all. There are searing, lyrical guitar leads verging on a melody, not unlike my hometown homie Insect Factory, but there are also esoteric, alienating tape loops and computer noise to keep the vibe on a distant alien planet all of its own making.
Nadeshda’s “Das Haus des Teufels” (“…of Devils”) is similarly maximalist in its minimalist repetition, with stark loops of echoing piano dissembling like a mudslide into radio static and theremin torture. I would liken the sensations of this suffocating, nightmarish journey to Herman Hesse’s organist character Pistorius playing a waltz at Bulgakov’s satanic ball, remixed by DJ Screw. But that’s just me! What does it remind you of? Please don’t hesitate to contact us and let us know.
I would also be curious to know what you think of Didi Kern and Philipp Quehenberger, names which don’t sound like the kooky burlesque-tinged breakcore-jazz they’ve actually produced. (To be fair, my name corresponds to graphic designers or soccer players, depending on which surname you google first.) After hearing mostly analogue drums, saxophones, and ambient zone-out epics, how do you feel being barraged by a 200+bpm drum machine and wacked-out baseball organ? And how do you feel about trying to digest a barrage of tracks mostly under 90 seconds in length, after 45 minutes of just three long, dense bangers? Surprised? Incontinent? Deceived? Redeemed?
To be honest, I seek out musical collections with enough contrasts to test my emotional and physical limits. I seek out surprises, but sometimes I crave betrayal. Sometimes the music holds up its end of the bargain and, well, sometimes you get a raw deal. But hey, what’s a bit of sonic salmonella among friends?