If you ever want to get thrown for a loop, make something large and then take something away, some ingredient that adds a little bit of flash and go without it. Use something similar to it, beef up the other flavors. See what the rest of the ingredients can do to make up for the replacement. Test your skills. For his latest album on New Atlantis Records, guitarist Brandon Seabrook spent a year writing complex, propulsive, psychedelic jazz music with two drummers but switched the pepper up from using cymbals to that ever inventive, catchall “percussion”.
Seabrook is one of the hidden weapons behind Ben Allison’s albums. His inventiveness on the guitar opens up a full spectrum of sounds never even imagined. He makes guitar music real art. Thus, hearing his approach on a larger ensemble of his own and its full capacity for weirdness is to be expected, as much as one can expect the unexpected. His panoply of sounds from his guitar is part of this but the dueling drums from Sam Ospovat and Dave Treut providing the aforementioned very lively, constant energy on an already energetic music is what makes the whole thing bubble out of the pot. The frenetic strings from cellist Marika Hughes and bassist Eivind Opsvik add a whole other vibe, providing depth, texture, and an odd kind of harmony to the dischord.
The album is like listening closely to a human body with a churning, upset stomach. The body works as one unit, some parts we understand while others confound us. Its assorted functions work together to maintain the body, but together they sound like a mess that still somehow makes sense. Hearing Chuck Bettis make his groanings, as if he were the Holy Spirit within making intercessory prayer, is that extra layer that makes what’s already odd sound oddly organic. Die Trommel Fatale is a beast of an album that confounds as much as it excites (and it’s short enough to not cause too much of a fuss). It’s a weird one, but when has anything like that ever stopped art?
Die Trommel Fatale is both the name of guitarist Brandon Seabrook’s new ensemble and their self-titled new release, out now on New Atlantis Records.
Brandon Seabrook: Guitar
Sam Ospovat: Drums
Dave Treut: Drums
Chuck Bettis: Throat/Electronics
Marika Hughes: Cello
Eivind Opsvik: Bass
Nextbop Editor-in-Chief Anthony Dean-Harris hosts the modern jazz radio show, The Line-Up, Fridays at 9pm CST on 91.7 FM KRTU San Antonio and is also a contributing writer to DownBeat Magazine and the San Antonio Current.