Every Friday, Dusted Magazine publishes a series of music-related lists compiled by our favorite artists. This week: Chicago jazz visionary Rob Mazurek and Paul Lemos of 1970s New York noise band Controlled Bleeding.
Listed: Rob Mazurek + Controlled Bleeding
Nothing in Rob Mazurek’ s early musical life points to him becoming the creative artist that he is today. Born in 1965, he grew up in a suburb of Chicago and learned the fundamentals of bebop as a cornet student at the Bloom School of Jazz. Mazurek’ s early records on the Scottish Hep label are accomplished but derivative hard bop sessions; it wasn’t until he had passed his 30th birthday that he began an exploratory path through the visual and sonic arts. Beginning with the Chicago Underground Orchestra (still extent as the Chicago Underground Duo) and carrying on in groups like Tigermilk, Sao Paolo Underground, Exploding Star Orchestra, as well as solo work and sessions with Bill Dixon, he’s played rigorous composed scores, free improvisation, shredding laptop, and samples of rain forests and electric eels. He’ s also produced paintings, some of which adorn his album covers, and video installations. Mazurek’ s latest recording Double Demon (Delmark) with the trio Starlicker, melds acoustic jazz with electronic manipulations that bring to mind the color fields in his paintings.
Below are Mazurek’s choices for songs that completely changed his views on how to make his own music.
1. Bill Dixon - Odyssey [solo works]
Bill Dixon’s self released six-disc masterpiece of sound and vision spanning 1970-1990. A heroic leap into the realm of what a trumpet can do and what sound can do.
2. Iannis Xenakis - La Legende d’Eer on Mode
Mind-blowing electronics from the master composer.
3. Alan Shorter - Orgasm
Strange, dark, brilliant music from the great Alan Shorter.
4. Bad Brains - Black Dot
Blistering set from 1979. I almost fell off my chair listening to this the first time. Physical sound, short song structures, to the point and beyond.
5. Christian Fennesz - Hotel Paral.lel
Incredible sounds from Christian from this 1997 (pre-Endless Summer) Mego release.
6. Merzbow - 24 Hours - A Day of Seals
One of my favorites from Masami Akita. A box set of exquisite noise.
7. John Cage - Music for Prepared Piano Volume 2
A most beautiful and dark recording on the Naxos label (Boris Berman).
8. Miles Davis - Filles de Kilimanjaro
Quintessential modern music from the great Miles Davis on Columbia records.
9. Florian Hecker - Sun Pandämonium
Absolute Stunner from Florian. Couldn’t stop playing this for months when it first came out in 2003 and still can’t stop.
10. Chico Buarque - Construcao
A 1971 masterpiece from one of the icons of Brazilian music.
When Paul Lemos co-founded the band Controlled Bleeding back in 1978, it was described as sounding like a collision between The Ramones and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. The volatile nature of the band’s music combined with interpersonal band conflicts led Lemos to embark out on his own noisy experiments, as evidenced on the Swallowing Scrap Metal cassette comp issued in 1982. A few more flirtations with the band led to the iconic power electronics release, Knees and Bones in 1983. What followed was a series of on-again-off-again collaborations with differing lineups (including the now deceased Controlled Bleeding vocalist,Joe Papa) that garnered the band relative commercial success, but at times still left Lemos unsatisfied. In 2010, Lemos reinvented Controlled Bleeding. Drummer Tony Meola rejoined the band, which was filled out by Michael Bazini on electronics. The group began playing a slew of live gigs in the New York City area, blasting audiences with an improvised instrumental mix of blistering guitar riffs, hypnotic bass loops, pounding drumbeats and fractured noise. Odes to Bubbler, the band’s latest album, will be released later this month.
1. Henry Cow - In Praise of Learning
The band that redefined progressive music and spawned its own musical genre, RIO (Rock in Opposition). Bringing together free improvisation, prog rock, electric jazz, musique concrete, and 20th century classical composition to create a work of great beauty, political commentary and profound musical depth, In Praise of Learning is one of my favorite records of all time. The core members of the band — Chris Cutler, Fred Frith, Dagmar Krause and Tim Hodgkinson — were at their creative peak with this release.
2. Mahavishnu Orchestra - "Dream"
At the 14-minute mark, this piece from the band’s 1973 live release Between Nothingness & Eternity, launches into the stratosphere like nothing I have ever heard. Drummer Billy Cobham and guitarist John McLaughlin deliver perhaps the most sublime music of their careers in this two-minute climax, imbued with the spirit of the divine. Even now 30 years after it was recorded, this passage leaves me breathless.
3. Ice - Bad Blood
This relentlessly dark, slithering slab of aural decay, released on Warner/Reprise in 1998, is available for about $1.50 on Amazon. Buy it before it disappears. Kevin Martin (God, The Bug), Justin Broadrick (Godflesh, Jesu), Blixa Bargeld (Einstürzende Neubauten) and Co. create the most experimental hip hop/dub hybrid I have heard. I’m no expert on the genre, but this is a brilliant record in my book. Just listen to the filthy, lurching grind of "Dusted" and the massive, distorted rhythms of "A New Breed of Rat" with whispered vocal shards ricocheting in and out of the mix. Bad Blood, criminally ignored, was a new breed of dub issued before its time.
4. Globe Unity Orchestra
Pianist/composer Alexander von Schlippenbach’s massive free-jazz orchestra is a veritable who’s who of the British avant-garde, featuring players like Evan Parker, Hans Bennink, Derek Bailey and Peter Brötzmann. Its live recordings made during the late 1960s and 1970s stand as some of the wildest shit I have ever heard, as 30 players blow their brains out in screaming improvisation. Some might call it cacophony, but the sheer energy and dynamics of Globe Unity is pure catharsis, as powerful and emotional as music gets.
5. Richard Hawley - Coles Corner
I don’t know why, but a lot of people I know hate this guy’s work. They compare him to Frank Sinatra, and I hate Frank Sinatra. But I love Richard Hawley. I love everything he has done, but Coles Corner really gets to me. These brooding, sad songs about lost love and shattered romance cut deep into my heart. I have not been obsessed with an album like this since I was in high school, listening to Roxy Music’s Country Life. "The Ocean" and the title track are my favorite songs of the past couple of decades, and they both exist on this one amazing album.
6. Brian Eno - "Baby’s on Fire" from Here Come The Warm Jets
I was always a fan of Eno, right from the days of the early Roxy records, and I loved his solo albums back in the 1970s. Although some of his music sounds dated now, the queasy intensity of this track still leaves me speechless after all this time. How does one describe the curdling, pulsing aural sickness that Eno creates here, driven by what may be Robert Fripp’s greatest guitar solo, which simply burns into the listener. This song, like the entire Warm Jets album, seemed to come out of nowhere and remains a singular musical statement.
7. The Stooges - Funhouse
Yeah, I know, everyone references Funhouse as a masterpiece these days. It took awhile for people to finally wake up and realize just what a MONSTER this was, but 40 years later, Iggy has received the credit that eluded him so long ago, when the band was dropped from Elektra and the record disappeared. I brought this LP to "show and tell" when I was in sixth grade, back in 1970, after my aunt bought it for me for Christmas (along with the first Black Sabbath album). Funhouse changed my life and ‘til this day it remains my favorite rock record of all time. "Loose" and "Down on the Street" could have been recorded yesterday. Raw Power had its moments, no question, but this was the classic for me.
8. King Crimson - "Providence" from Red
The Bruford-Wetton-Fripp lineup of Crimson in the mid 1970s was, for me, one of the great bands of all time, and redefined what music could be when I saw them live in Central Park around 1976. Wetton’s bass playing was so heavy, it made cottage cheese out of air, and Fripp, inspired by players like John McLaughlin, was at his absolute peak. “Providence,” like KC’s other great recorded improvisation “Asbury Park,” was recorded live and so perfectly captured the unworldly musical chemistry of these musicians in their prime. One would think that such pieces were the product of constant practice and meticulous composition, but it was just a spontaneous jam. ”Providence” is as riveting today as it was in 1976, with its brooding, Pendereckian introduction and its bruising, adrenalized climax.
9. Naked City - Torture Garden
What makes John Zorn so great is not his musical virtuosity as much as his ability to synthesize influences and assemble the right musicians who can bring his musical visions to life. For me, Naked City’s debut, Torture Garden, was one of Zorn’s finest achievements, a record that combined his fascination with the screaming speed of very early Napalm Death, the pure, manic hysteria of early Boredoms, the frenzied cut-up collage of cartoon music and the swing of bebop. Torture Garden single handedly spawned a million tech-metal bands in its wake and is one of the most musically daunting, exciting albums I own.
10. Burmese - new album (unreadable album and song titles)
It’s a pretty tough exercise picking 10 favorite albums, and this one definitely should not be here. I should have chosen BOC’s Tyranny and Mutation or Arab on Radar’s >i>Soak The Saddle or The Fugs’ It Crawled into My Hand, Honest.or Steely Dan’s Katie Lied. But Burmese needs to be mentioned. With Weasel Walter playing drums and producing, we have what may be the most extreme musical statement I have found. These days, there are a lot of extreme bands (like Hellnation, Gridlink, Child Abuse, etc.), but Burmese takes extremity to a whole other level with the relentless grindcore cacophony of the 47-minute finale. Sure power electronics masters like Merzbow and Masonna have raised more of a racket than these guys, but no one has done this with guitars, bass and drums. Like White Mice, Burmese is a band that is out to ANNOY, and this record more than succeeds. A classic in its genre.
By Dusted Magazine