No-Neck Blues Band

(Copyright © 2004 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )

The Ghost Of Magnetism (1995), 6/10
Hoichoi (1996), 6/10
Letters From The Earth (1996), 7/10
Letters From Serth (1998), 6/10
Live at Ken's Electric Lake (1998), 6/10
A Tabu Two (1998), 6/10
Birth Of Both World (1999), 6/10
Sticks And Stones (2001), 7/10
Intonomancy (2002), 6.5/10
Re: Mr. A Fan (2003), 6/10
Ever Borneo (2003), 6/10
Parallel Easters (2004), 6/10
Dutch Money (2004), 6/10
First Kingdom Of The Ghost (2004), 6/10
Qvaris (2005), 7/10
Excepter: Ka (2003), 7/10
Excepter: Throne (2005), 6.5/10
Excepter: Self Destruction (2005), 5/10
Excepter: Debt Dept (2008), 6/10
Excepter: Presidence (2010), 5/10
Clomeim (2008), 6/10

The No-Neck Blues Band is a loose collective of New York improvisers that was first assembled in 1992 by, among others, multi-instrumentalist Keith Connelly, guitarists Dave Shuford and Jason Meagher, keyboardist John Fell Ryan, bassist Matt Heyner and percussionist Dave Nuss. The first incarnation as a quartet is documentd on Languid Red Marchetti (Planazaum, 2009), originally recorded in 1994. Their recordings are mainly devoted to long chaotic instrumental jams that draw inspiration from the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Captain Beefheart, Amon Duul II, Pink Floyd, Aphrodite's Child, Crash Worship, and, closer in time, Jackie-O Motherfucker. ranging from an anthropological recapitulation of primal shamanic music to free-jazz improvisation: The Ghost Of Magnetism (Estatic Yod, 1995), also known as Recorded In Public & Private, the first one to feature Japanese violinist Michiko Cook, Hoichoi (1996), Letters From The Earth (Sound@one, 1996), recorded on a roof in 1996 and including the 38-minute jam Isopropyl Ocean, Letters From Serth (1998), recorded in 1997, Live at Ken's Electric Lake (1998), two albums both titled A Tabu Two (New World of Sound, 1998), Birth Of Both World (1999), that collects two 1998 outdoor performances. Their basic method is the free-form psychedelic freak-out, enhanced with ritual percussive passages and spastic discordance.

The method inaugurated in the 1990s was refined on Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones But Names Will Never Hurt Me (Revenant, 2001 - Sound@one, 2003). After a brief overture, the (sung) country-esque jam begins in earnest with the lazy trotting guitar-mandolin five minutes of The Natural Bridge. That's actually excited and professional compared with the ten-minute Back To The Omind, that is so casual that one keeps waiting for the music to start, as opposed to mere rehearsing it. The delirious 18-minute Assignment Subud ups the ante with a free-form percussive chaos that slowly coalesces around the thinnest of funk-jazzy rhythms. After about 14 minutes of sleepy jamming the horns suddenly explode, but the effect is to barely accelerate the polymorph multi-instrumental beat. Of the three untitled tracks, the first one is a bit louder, dissonant and chaotic. The second one is a lengthy (19 minutes) parody of abstract chamber music with the slightest of hints that the band is actually aware of polyphony until half way, way a shamanic chant emerges and becomes the catalyst for the percussion. Four minutes later this has become a tribal orgy with free-jazz horns. The third untitled track (13 minutes) syncopated Captain Beefheart-style blues jam that decays into a much less coherent (and almost cabaret-tish) vision of hell, one of their most entertaining pieces.

Compared with Sticks And Stones, the better recorded Intonomancy (Sound@one, 2002) lost some of the magic. The characteristic laziness of the band was a major drawback on the shorter pieces, that fail to sustain any momentum. Open That Grass Can pays tribute to Dadaism and musique concrete. Witch could have been a Brian Eno vignette in the 1970s. Nothing to write home about. The longer pieces are more significant. The 16-minute Fuck No rises slowly from the usual carpet of tribal drumming and organ drones, slowly becoming more and more intricate. The eleven-minute Play Your Play does what they are best at: it blends junglish-exotic overtones (polyrhythms, primitive instrumental calls), free-jazz overtones (a loose aggregate of horn and keyboard phrases), and Indian overtones (languid trance-like droning instruments). Even better is the eight-minute Intonomancy, a minimalist fanfare of sorts that combines a number of repetitive patterns into a tribal acid trip. The twelve-minute The Shepherd Takes A Shine To The Abyss takes forever to get its act together, and then it's just the usual loose guitar threnody.

Then the floodgates opened and the band released Re: Mr. A Fan (Trademark of Quality, 2003), recorded live in 1999, Ever Borneo (2003), which compiles more performances, Parallel Easters (Sound@One, 2004), which compiles unreleased material of the period 1999-2003, Dutch Money (2004), recorded live in Amsterdam in 2003, The Collective Imaginings of Quantarenius, Cook, & Co. (Greene Naftali, 2005), documenting a live performance of 2004. This prolofic discography peaked with the very rhythmic First Kingdom Of The Ghost (Seres, 2004).

John Fell Ryan is also active in Excepter, that debuted on Ka (Fusetron, 2003), a digital psychedelic collage. Their praxis, introduced with opener Shattered Skull, is to distort the song by turning the male and female vocals into floating incomprehensible voices and instruments into shapeless amoebas of background sounds. The voices are trasformed into chaotic drones in See Your Son, while electronic hisses speed all around them. Rhythm enters the equation with the eight-minute Be Beyond Be, a sort of gloomy pounding voodoobilly with otherworldly vocals and all sorts of noisy detours; and The Fire And The Wood is an electronic zombie dance a` la Chrome, although scoured by grotesque voices. Rhythm and voices seem to proceed in opposite directions in Hallways, the ultimate case of musical schizophrenia. On the other hand, Give Me The Cave is eight minutes of childish musique concrete, free jazz and African percussion. The EP Vacation (Fusetron, 2003), included in the 2004 CD version of Ka, adds two of Ryan's most daring collages: the eight-minute Vacation, in which the male singer's free-form humming mixes with pseudo-dub reverbs, electronic curls and a woman moaning from a distant galaxy; and the 13-minute Forget Me, in which the duet between the male voice's filtered litany (a` la Grateful Dead's Aoxomoxoa) and the ethereal, dilated female vocals is backed by a thicker slab of hissing electronic bliss, something halfway between Gong, Throbbing Gristle and a choir of Tibetan monks. Unlike the album, that still tried to retain a semblance of song format, the EP lets the music drift ad libitum, and represents the artistic peak of Excepter. Throne (Load, 2005) was another "concrete" symphony for electronics, guitars and wordless vocals. Self Destruction (Fusetron, 2005) and Alternation (5RC, 2006) mocked dance music. The double-disc Streams 01 (Fusetron, 2007) was perhaps redundant. Debt Dept (Paw Tracks, 2008) offered industrial songs for vocalists Clare Amory and Lala Harrison. Presidence (2010) is a collection of Excepter odds and ends, including some live material.

The ensemble achieved an odd kind of austere format on Qvaris (5 Rue Christine, 2005), containing several pieces that seemed aimed at bridging folk and avantgarde music. THe usual narcoleptic jamming seems somewhat restrained in The Doon. Live Your Myth In Grease adds a more lively disjointede bluesy feeling a` la Captain Beefheart and a lengthy coda of dissonance and electronics. Things get even weirder than usual with The Black Pope, that is a free-form blend of dissonant sounds by the various instruments, coalescing into some kind of rhythm towards the end. Ditto for Vaticon Blue. Dark Equus is an abstract electronic poem with sci-fi overtones. The dadaistic theme peaks with the eleven-minute concerto for found percussions and discordant strings The Caterpillar Heart. Boreal Gluts too is a first for them: an odd mixture of surf music, horror soundtracks and progressive-rock. Lungnagall is, de facto, the only piece that sticks to their tradition of tribal polyrhythms, trance drones and shamanic chanting. It is perhaps the most accomplished of their albums. Not necessarily the least spastic, and not necessarily the most creative, but the, overall, the most effective.

Embryonnck (Staubgold, 2006) is a collaboration with Christian Burchard's Embryo.

Nine For Victor (Victo, 2007) documents a live performance from 2005.

The Coach Fingers' No Flies On Frank (2006) and One For The Road (Sound @ One, 2007), featuring three members of the No Neck Blues Band, delivered a sloppy version of old-fashioned gospel-rock, country-rock and blues-rock of the 1970s (Band, ZZ Top, Allman Brothers).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Marco Spagnuolo)

I No-Neck Blues Band e’ un collettivo molto vario e aperto che comprende alcuni improvvisatori della scena newyorkese , furono messi in piedi per la prima volta nel 1992 dal, tra gli altri, polistrumentista Keith Connelly e dal percussionista Dave Nuss. Le loro registrazioni sono per lo piu’ delle lunghe e caotiche jam strumentali che traggono ispirazione dagli Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Captain Beefheart, Amon Duul II, Pink Floyd, Aphrodite's Child, Crash Worship, e piu’ vicino nel tempo, ai Jackie-O Motherfucker, oscillando da un riepilogo antropologico della musica sciamana primitiva all’improvvisazione free-jazz: The Ghost Of Magnetism (Estatic Yod, 1995), conosciuto anche come Recorded In Public & Private, Hoichoi (1996), Letters From The Earth (Sound@one, 1998), registrato in una soffitta nel 1996, Letters From Serth (1998), registrato nel 1997, Live at Ken's Electric Lake (1998), due album entrambi intitolati A Tabu Two (New World of Sound, 1998), Birth Of Both World (1999), che raccoglie due performance all’esterno del 1998. Il loro metodo di base e’, essenzialmente, una sorta di freak-out psichedelico, ma rinforzato con passaggi percussivi rituali e dissonanze spastiche.


Quel metodo fu ridefinito su Sticks And Stones May Break My Bones But Names Will Never Hurt Me (Revenant, 2001 - Sound@one, 2003), in particolare il delirio di Assignment Subud, Intonomancy (Sound@one, 2002), Re: Mr. A Fan (Trademark of Quality, 2003), registrato live nel 1999, Ever Borneo (2003), raccoglie diverse performance, Parallel Easters (Sound@One, 2004), raccoglie materiale inedito del periodo 1999-2003, Dutch Money (2004), registrato live ad Amsterdam nel 2003, il piu’ ritmico First Kingdom Of The Ghost (Seres, 2004).

John Fell Ryan fa parte anche degli Excepter, che ha pubblicato Ka (2004), un collage psichedelico digitale.

The Collective Imaginings of Quantarenius, Cook, & Co. (Greene Naftali, 2005) documenta una performance live del 2004.

L’ensemble convoglia la sua musica in uno strano tipo di formato austero con l’album Qvaris (5 Rue Christine, 2005), contenente diversi brani che sembrano voler porre un ponte che colleghi il folk e la musica d’avanguardia, gli undici minuti del concerto per percussioni trovate, The Caterpillar Heart.

Embryonnck (Staubgold, 2006) e’ una collaborazione con Christian Burchard degli Embryo.

Nine For Victor (Victo, 2007) documenta una performance live del 2005

No Flies On Frank (2006) e One For The Road (Sound @ One, 2007) dei The Coach Fingers, insieme a tre membri dei NNBB, rimandano ad una sciatta versione alla vecchia maniera del gospel-rock e del country-rock e blues-rock degli anni ’70 (Band, ZZ Top, Allman Brothers).

Aftypiclipse (Sound At One, 2008) documents a live set by the No Neck Blues Band dedicated to Jazzfinger.

Angelblood is a collaboration between No-Neck Blues Band's drummer Dave Nuss and two demonic female vocalists (Rita Ackermann and Lizzi Bougatsos), a guitarist and a bassist that released only mini-albums: Angelblood (2000), Masses of the Daggers (2002), Labia Minora (2003), and the posthumous Mambo Mange (Locust, 2008).

Malkuth, featuring two members of the No Neck Blues Band, debuted with Mutus Liber (Hospital Productions, 2007).

Gazheart (Locust, 2008) was a collaboration between the No Neck Blues Band's Dave Nuss and Angelblood's vocalist Rita Ackerman.

Amid so many side-projects, the No Neck Blues Band finally returned with Clomeim (Locust, 2008), that was nothing more than a distillation of the same improvised art of yore.

Egypt Is The Magick Number, that released the improvised jam How Many Pieces of the Puzzle Can the Mind Go Without? (Sound @ 1 / Psycho-Path, 2009), features Adam Mortimer and Dave Shuford.

At 6am We Become The Police (Locust, 2009) is the soundtrack to a DVD, that includes old unreleased material.

A 2009 sessions yielded both YTIU (Kelippah, 2012) and CINo 51 (Kelippah, 2012), both containing two side-long jams, both sounding like tributes to early Pink Floyd and to Dark Star-era Grateful Dead

Pat Murano also launched the project Decimus, devoted to a 12-part zodiac concept that began on Decimus 1 (Kelippah, 2011).

Charles Speer, bassist Jimmy SeiTang and drummer Spencer Herbst formed Rhyton, whose Rhyton (Thrill Jockey, 2012) contains five mostly instrumental jams wrapped in sound effects, notably the 12-minute Pontian Grave, the exotic Shank Raids and the ten-minute Teke, the best demonstration yet of their "split stereo, dual amp" recording technique. Rhyton's The Emerald Tablet (Emerald Tablet, 2012) contains the self-indulgent 19-minute Obligation and the 13-minute Trismegistus Sto Smaragda, that sounds even more amateurish despite a more cohesive venture into jazzy and raga archetypes.

No-Neck Blues Band's Gitanjali (Ri Be Xibalba, 2013) and Gitanjali + The Nascent Stigma (2013) were culled from the same 2006 session.

David Nuss also conducts the Sabbath Assembly on Restored To One (2010), fronted by Jex Thoth, and Ye Are Gods (Ajna, 2012), fronted by the Wolves In The Throne Room's vocalist Jamie Myers and by transgender industrial spoken-word artist Genesis P-Orridge, two albums of satanic and non-satanic religious music.

Furamingo Josei (Holidays, 2013) resurrects unreleased sessions from the age of Qvaris¯ (march 2005).

Tom Carter and No Neck Blues Band's Pat Murano (aka Decimus) collaborated on Tom Carter/Pat Murano, featuring the 21-minute Avalokitesvara and the 20-minute Guanshiyin Pusa, and on Four Infernal Rivers (MIE, 2014).

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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(Copyright © 2004 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions )
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