Diamond Terrifier – Ascribing Essence

Diamond Terrifier is the solo project created by saxophone destroyer Sam Hillmer, as a vehicle for the exploration of more nuanced territory than the blast furnace his day job in avant-jazz-noise group Zs embodies.   He’s got a new album out which I’ll get to in a moment.

For now, check this:

Twenty seven minutes of otherworldly bliss.  I’ve now listened three times in a row.  Each set bringing something new to the fore, shifting around the sweet spots.  Each time a novel element flashes brighter: the swarming Pharoah Sanders and Don Cherry echoes in the horn play, the primitively menacing percussion, the psychotic guitar threatening to derail everything at one point, even the familiar ghosts hissing between the cracks (hello, He Loved Him Madly).  It begins in earnest with Hillmer laying out a lyrical solo somewhere between siren and whale song and progresses to a full band tsunami where we have a synthy bass pulse emerging at times like a ship refusing to sink, only to rise in full sail near the end in a sax-and-laser maelstrom.

This incredible piece is just a taste of what this man creates, something taken to a much more personal and direct place on the new album, Kill The Self That Wants To Kill Yourself.  There’s a stream of one of the tracks on the Diamond Terrifier soundcloud, though I believe it works much better as part of the whole.

There it is.  Get it at Northern Spy.  They have great prices and (seriously) fast and helpful customer relations.

For fans of: John Coltrane, Terry Riley, Boredoms, Colin Stetson, Anthony Braxton, Ultralyd, adventures

Between My Head and the Sky

yoko-between

Yoko Ono. Divisive to many, divine to few. And a patron saint of confident weirdness to certain odd souls, myself included.

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Alice Coltrane – Transcendence

Transcendence is my favorite Alice Coltrane album. In my humble opinion, it’s one of the greatest jazz albums of all time, by anyone. I’ll try to concisely extol the many virtues of this wonderfully titular-promise-fulfilling album.

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“Transcendence is the key that unlocks the indelible mystery of Alice Coltrane’s music. It is the unerring creative mission statement, the irresistible driving force that pushes her soul towards your own.

Reaching the listener emotionally, psychologically and spiritually is an essential part of the endeavor but the act of going beyond conventional forms of communication, of acceding to a higher state of consciousness, is the ultimate raison d’être.”

Since the liner notes in my handy CD reissue lay it out so succinctly, I feel the need only to briefly describe the music itself. Divided into two distinct phases, the album starts off with meandering cloud shimmers of Alice’s effortlessly magical harp. At first nearly traditional sounding, emulating the first rumblings of a symphony, the amorphous harp-centric sound winds through the second, more abstract tune, before gathering into a purposeful rhythm by the ending of the third track. The final echoes softly give way to the low end hum of Coltrane’s sublime organ workout, which drives the rest of the album along a hand-clapping gospel singalong evocation of the various names of the gods.

This western gospel/eastern philosophy mashup feels so comfortably entwined that it comes across like the most natural progression of this idea possible. The sharp tonal divide would stand out more if it weren’t the perfect combination of contrast and duration: the buildup feels like meditation, being lost in thought and nothingness, before a moment of clarity snaps the world into focus. The local cohabitants emerge and reach towards the outer edges of the world as the gods’ names are chanted in the communal practice of Sankirtan, Alice’s favorite sacrifice. It’s an elated ride from introspection to vocal providence; such an enjoyable trip that we’re nigh unaware of the spirituality fueling the journey. Turn this on and let it get you high – or get high before turning it on. Transcendence is all that matters.

[purchase this truly essential album via cd universe or amazon]

Dorian Concept – When Planets Explode

Dorian Concept is a one-man force of nature from Austria who’s been tweaking beats and spinning trippy jazz tracks for several years – and with the release of When Planets Explode in 2009, finally getting his due and hopefully some worldwide recognition.  Fans of Flying Lotus, Hudson Mohawke, Ras G (whose Brotha From Anotha Planet I’ve gone crazy for), and hell J Dilla himself, are pointedly advised to get in on this action and get familiar with the sick space-jazz-hiphop pulsing out of this LP.

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This mindblowing mural of textural dexterity and extraterrestrial beat construction bears the hallmarks of Sun Ra or latter-day John Coltrane run through the modern wonky sensibility of beats straight out of a fevered acid dream.  Unrelenting, inventive sounds burst out of the speakers at every turn, keeping the listener on his toes and his neck snapped to attention – no easy head-nodding action here with the sudden tonal shifts and oft-subverted structures.  It’s a highly active album and all the more brilliant for it.  Although not nearly your average party material, the percussion and korg stabs supply ample slam, stuffed into an oceanic low-end that’ll keep any subwoofer busy for the half-hour-plus duration.  This is headphone nirvana, driving at night ecstasy, and fill-the-house explosiveness packed into a tightly wound free jazz banger sure to stupefy anyone willing to indulge in your latest album aquisition.  Grab this and detonate heads along with the solar system.

[snag this brain bender at boomkat for about $7 digital!]

Pharoah Sanders – Karma

Pharoah Sanders - Karma

Pharoah Sanders may be regarded as, without reservation, one of the greatest modern jazz musicians. His saxophone has graced the heights of recorded music, including his work with John Coltrane on the revolutionary freakout Ascension and Alice Coltrane‘s spiritual jazz masterpieces. He’s played with nearly every major jazz artist you love and he’s appeared on more records than you own. Probably.

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