Mike Pride – Drummer’s Corpse (2013)

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Albums with as many songs as a 45 single are bound to be interesting, and that’s undeniably the case for Mike Pride’s dual epic numbers compiled into his upcoming Drummer’s Corpse album. Pride has always thrived on the outskirts of jazz, a trait reinforced by studying under Milford Graves and hanging out with the likes of Anthony Braxton, Otomo Yoshihide and John Zorn. But there’s this other avant side of Pride that resides outside even the furthest reaches of jazz, rooted instead in the farthest reaches of metal and improvised music.

“Drummer’s Corpse,” the song, is a thirty-three minute long drummers’ orgy. And as orgies involve several participants, so does “Corpse” involve several drummers: seven besides Pride, to be precise (Ches Smith, Tyshawn Sorey, Bobby Previte, Oran Canfield, Russell Greenberg, John McLellan).

An uneasy calm occasionally adorned with groans is shattered about two and a half minutes in by an explosion of drums sets and various percussion cast against an industrial drone, probably emitted by Chris Welcome’s processed guitar, Richard Pinhas style. The whimpers turn into wails, yells and screams. In a reversal of the long buildup/short release formula, the thrashing lasts for more than thirty minutes, and doesn’t let up; there’s only variation in the occasional shifting of the drone from one chord to another. And in spite of — or maybe because of — the relentlessness, the noise piece is hypnotic; like a train wreck, it’s a sonic spectacle that’s too spectacular to turn away from.

“Some Will Die Animals” peels off the metal exterior and what remains is still sound art, but sound art with a different tactic. Instead of sculpting a dense noise, this twenty-six minute performance explores space, both in the airy moments approaching silence and the offbeat collision of competing sounds: Eivind Opsvik’s scraping of bass strings, Welcome’s diffused strumming and Pride bashing about randomly on his tom-toms and bass drums.

At the seven minute mark, four voices suddenly materializes, each engaging in their own soliloquies, cancelling out most comprehension of what they’re saying; I picked up several utterances of “United Vagina Association” which sadly might say as much about me as it does about them. These scripted oratorical parts carry on for several minutes, unaffected by the music and reappear later in the song.

Drummer’s Corpse can be thought of as jazzless improvisation and sound in a sense that’s broader than mere music. Even fans of Pride’s Bacteria To Boys band, which is already a creative and outside-the-box unit, would be taken aback by how far outside he ventures on this album. Luckily for those fans, there’s a new Bacteria To Boys album coming out the same day. More on that very soon.

Drummer’s Corpse comes out on May 14, through AUM Fidelity. Visit Mike Pride’s website for more info.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
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