Many Arms – Many Arms (2012)

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Music that’s noisy and unconstrained aren’t all the same, and the best hardcore experimental bands understand that merely creating chaos is not enough; the chaos is best created in an orderly way. Many Arms — Nick Millevoi guitar John DeBlase, bass and Ricardo Lagomasino drums — is a thrash metal-jazz trio from Philly who I could sense a method to their madness when scoping out Missing Time (2010) early last year, but with the imminent release of their next record, the self titled Many Arms, it’s clear that this already good combo has grown artistically since then by leaps and bounds.

Added to their mastery of the manic free-for-all group improvisations are some carefully constructed and compacted minimal music along with impossible math rock that sharpens their focus and reveal more of their technical adeptness. All while retaining their bent toward total freedom and pure energy. This is the perfect record to play when you’re feeling both rowdy and nerdy at the same time, or while breaking shit to pieces.

This time, there’s only a trio of tracks, each running around 15 minutes. That works better for them, enabling the three to full incorporate their ideas into fully developed songs, and the cool thing is, there are plenty of ideas in each song.

Twisted repeating figures open up “Beyond Territories” (video of live version below) with the first figure running for two and a half minutes before moving on to the next one. These ostinatos are so head shaking knotty, it’s a marvel to hear them performing them in perfect unison once, much less twelve or so times. Eventually, Millevoi moves into rapid fire freelancing, and DeBlase and Lagomasino remain right there with him. DeBlase runs through a thick, tricky but logical succession at such a blistering pace, the next time I hear Yes, I’m more apt to think of Chris Squire as DeBlase slowed down.

For the doom ballad “In Dealing With The Laws of Physic on Planet Earth,” Millevoi is more interested in mining tonal textures, sculpting sounds through use of shimmering chords and tactical use of feedback as DeBlase and Lagomasino provide the punctuation. The three can’t stay quiet forever, however, and the song builds into a “Stairway To Heaven” styled crescendo, attaining the nearly the intensity heard on the other cuts.

“Rising Artifacts In A Five Point Field” returns to the balls-out shredding of the first track but with double the fury. Millevoi’s guitar opens up sounding like breaking glass, moving on to primal splaying of notes with great timbral control even as he’s at his most intense. DeBlase meanwhile displays vast range and great feel. Lagomasino makes waves not just because of his three-legged, four-armed drum solo, but also keeping the tempo maintained in the red zone and supplying the rhythmic parameters around the relentless release of both Millevoi and DeBlase.

Taken together, the three songs and the three musicians of Many Arms provides a lot for the mind to ponder as it melts the eardrums on its way there.

Many Arms unleashes on April 24, the band’s first for John Zorn’s Tzadik Records. Visit Many Arms’ website.

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