Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Arthur Doyle plus 4 - 'Alabama Feeling' (DRA)

I've always questioned the legitimacy of this CD, as the liner notes are written in broken English, and even the 'Tansfer (sic) by Wharton Tiers' credit is a bit suspect. I suppose the sound quality is good enough given the source material which was hardly Dark Side of the Moon to begin with. Doyle's a marginal figure who was briefly resurrected in the late 90s and his reputation rests largely on this record, I believe. It's a powerful blast of free insanity, and Doyle is featured not on sax but on Voice-O-Phone (both tenor and bass), which I think is just a funny way to say sax. Because that's what it sounds like. Well, there's a lot going on here, and the opening cut 'November 8th or 9th - I Can't Remember When' is as memorable as its title (take that how you'd like). There's two drummers here and throughout the disc, doing that thing two drummers often do in free jazz which is making the whole thing a cacophonous propulsive blast. Charles Stephens's trombone is what really dominates, maybe just because of the frequencies, which cut against the electric bass guitar. When Doyle solos, as on 'Something for Caserio, Larry & Irma', it's ripped to shreds, vibrating with an unmistakeable force but about the polar opposite of a Coltrane-like tone. Maybe this is what Albert Ayler would have been reduced to had he lived another decade or so, and lost a sense of control. This isn't to say that Doyle is a bad saxophonist, excuse me, Voice-O-Phonist -- just a raw and primitive one. He certainly brings a power and a scattershot sense of movement, and this is indeed where the charm of this disc can be found. I like chaos and this is mostly that, though it's far from random - these oddball musicians display some sense of timing and the overall feeling is hillbilly-batshit-insane, which is something that separates it quite a bit from Euro free stuff such as Globe Unity, etc. The cover art makes me think of a Braxton composition gone wrong, which is a nice idea, and maybe this disc is not unlike what that would sound like.

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