Björkenheim, Sopko, James, Laswell, Yamaki (Inaugural Sound Clash [for the 2 Americas]) – Against the Empire of Alternative Facts (2017)

It’s just one song played one night at John Zorn’s NYC nightclub the Stone, but the cast of characters who assembled for the fifty-seven minute jam aren’t the ordinary type. “Against the Empire of Alternative Facts” is the lone track from this newly released album by Inaugural Sound Clash (for the 2 Americas), an ad hoc supergroup comprising of guitarists Raoul Björkenheim, Mike Sopko and Dominic James, along with drummer Hideo Yamaki and the iconic bassist/producer Bill Laswell.

Laswell and Sopko had done some improvisations on record recently with drummer Thomas Pridgen but the endless and mostly linear outpouring of musical ideas the call to mind all those sonic brainstorms Jonas Hellborg, Shawn Lane and Jeff Sipe used to be able to produce with regularity. Only this time, there are three guitarists arrayed against the rhythm section. Somewhat surprisingly, the trio of guitarists don’t drown everything out, they stake their own spots and work well-attuned to each other, leaving some breathing space between them.

The five cross the vast landscape over rock, jazz, Afro-Caribbean metal, free-form metal and probably a dash of a dozen other music forms, even country(!). A nod to Jimi Hendrix occurs at about thirty-four minute mark when that riff from “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” emerges and the whole band pounces on the cue obviously inspired by that fresh injection of energy. Three minutes later, it appears that was sufficient to end the performance but the false final note is met instead by a whole new direction, a light, lively West African groove culminating in Yamaki’s feature spot. Before long, the groove has mutated into something dense, heavier and a little sinister right under our noses. The riff which actually does bring the whole thing to a close is a variation on John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.”

Against the Empire of Alternative Facts from Inaugural Sound Clash (for the 2 Americas) is now available in digital form via Bill Laswell’s M.O.D. Technologies.


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