Mike Pride – Listening Party (2015)

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Mike Pride is widely known as a jazz drummer (who plays in a punk rock band on the side, but still…), but this ain’t jazz we’re talking about here. Listening Party is a collection of sonic sketches, a creative data dump of what goes on artistically in Pride’s head when no one is around, or perhaps more accurately, when no one is around to hold him back. It’s just him making these sometimes-alien sounds, but he makes them using his entire arsenal, where it’s his drums, his glockenspiel, his banjo, his saxophone, his keyboard…even his mouth.

This is Pride’s own Natural Black Inventions: Root Strata record. Like Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s 1971 lost classic, Pride is all alone (Kirk wasn’t, actually , but it was close enough). There aren’t any common song structures — sometimes not even songs at all — but like Rahsaan, Pride is giving us a glimpse of what he can conjure up when there are no rules and no collaborators. Some of these eighteen, mostly-brief vignettes are improvs, others are fully charted and a few are just studio creations. The variety pulls together a glimpse into other sides of Pride we might not get to listen to otherwise.

It starts off stately enough: “Tracking” is actually a full orchestral piece Pride put together run through Auto-Tune that ironically make the piece sound rougher, not smoother. The unexpected jumps in the pitch is just a warning to expect the unexpected the rest of the way through. Yes, there are your drum solos (“Roach Survivors”, “Cyrille About?”, “Graves Grand”) that reveals his influences in his playing as well as in the titles, and four solo glockenspiel etudes that go from repeating figures to completely free. But there’s so much more, too.

Electronics play a part in spots, too, most notably on the eleven minute noise-and-cymbal clatter “Noise Waal Compound (for Dale Crover).” “Frictions” is more creative use of cymbals, with which Pride conjures up an industrial drone. Pride even uses his voice as a percussive instrument, like the sweaty grunts set against the sounds of water pouring, spare percussion and random beeps (“It’s Hot”), and random vocal blowing, whispering and blowing set against snare rumbles (“Fever Boxes”).

Chances are, you hadn’t heard anything quite like this before and though it’s often noise more than music, the surprise and the whole anti-normal nature of it all has its own certain appeal for the open-minded listener. Pride states, “making this solo record has been a total mind-bender.”

Listening to Listening Party is a mind-bender as well.

*** Purchase Mike Pride’s Listening Party ***

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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