Let’s get this out of the way –for the casual listener, the musical window shopper,
there is just nothing for you here. This music will confuse you, maybe annoy you,
perhaps even cause a panic attack. Even reading about it will probably just
confuse and annoy; so better just stop now and forget about it.
Alright – who’s left? You are not 90% - you are the music freaks, the true heads,
and of course…the drummers! Because, this record is a document of what
happens when Matt Cameron, Janet Weiss, and Zach Hill - three of the most
remarkable drummers of late period rock & roll, whose collective roll call of bands
- Pearl Jam, Sleater-Kinney, Hella, Quasi, Soundgarden,Wild Flag, Death
Grips, Boredoms - have had a heavy impact on all levels of rock & roll from full
blown arena rock to the radical fringe underground, set up together in a room &
just commence to EXPLODE.
I’m in a unique position to comment on this music, as I actually scammed my way
into the session, on the pretext of video taping the whole thing. Did I actually
shoot some footage? I don’t even remember, because, sitting there in the room
as it all went down, I was just transported by the spirit, the energy, the fire, which
was being generated in large doses. Three people, three drum kits, some
microphones and a reel of tape – that’s it: pure spontaneity. There’s nothing out
there that’s very comparable to this - maybe the Voodoo drum ritual music of the
Drummers of the Societe Absolument Guinin, is all I can think of, though
admittedly even that is a pretty far cry.
After the session was done and mixed, I was given access to the recordings, and
I spent hours listening closely, parsing out the details in what seems at first like a
Niagara Falls of sound. In fact it’s very possible to pick out what each of the
drummers is doing at a given time (they are given distinct areas within the stereo
spectrum), and zoom in on action/reaction, call and response, time games,
shifting levels of synchronization and de-synchronization, repetition and
pattern…it’s all there if you want to dissect it. But eventually I found that simply
relaxing into the sound, riding the contours of energy, density, movement, was
probably the most rewarding way of listening to this music. At this level, the
experience is deeply calming, as the sound becomes a river, sometimes roaring
in a torrent, other times opening up to reveal subsurface details, but always
moving, flowing…people spend all day watching rivers flow by like this, maybe
pretending to try & catch fish. One could likewise spend all day listening to this
music flow by, except the time limits imposed by the LP format have pared the
music down to more reasonable chunks.
So for us, the freaks, the heads, this is gold: masters of their instruments in a
frenzy of creation – creation for its own sake, for the love of music and sound and
drums, a universe away from music as product, musician as brand. Dig it.