To mark sunny holidays like the Fourth of July, I’ve been known to pull out a tune that fits with the mood. This time, I’m going to spotlight a band that epitomizes what the USA is all about.
You see, here in ‘Merica, we covet our freedom and we root for the underdog. And we like brash. Therefore, the free-funk, noise band out of Oakland that call themselves Street Priest is as American is, well you know, Grandma’s apple pie.
Street Priest professes fealty to Ronald Shannon Jackson and the Decoding Society, a fan club that is all too small given the spectacular, boundary-blasting music this group was making in the early 80s. However few those fans might be, they’d immediately spot the inspiration for Street Priest’s name; it’s the same name as an impossible-to-find 1983 Jackson release. The name of Street Priest’s album More Nasty is another tipoff: Jackson’s Nasty is another out-of-print release, from 1981.
More Nasty is a collection of noise pieces that uses Shannon not so much as a model than a jumping-off point. And they leap right into the void, as fearlessly as other such experimental electric trios as TOTEM> and the Scorch Trio. Even after absorbing those other bands, Street Priest manages to create ungodly sounds and timbres I didn’t think you could coax from a guitar/bass/drums format.
The scattered scratching and clanging of “Turk” is only briefly tethered by Matt Chandler’s electric bass while guitarist Kristian Aspelin splays sharp shards of shrill sounds. Jacob Felix Heule’s drums act as a random creator thumps and thuds out front with Aspelin and Chandler until ear-splitting guitar feedback dominates “Taylor.” You want a serenade? The sparse “Sixth” will serenade you with the distant sounds of a Skil saw. A collective roar shapes “Market” and Chandler makes his bass snort like a hog fattening up for a slaughter. Later on, a low buzz emulates a handheld video game with the batteries running low.
On this day of Independence, freedom — as in free-funk — never sounded so sweet. Pass the hot dogs and give me More Nasty.
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