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
Their recordings are mainly devoted to long chaotic instrumental jams that
draw inspiration from the Art Ensemble Of Chicago,
Amon Duul II,
and, closer in time,
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,
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
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
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).