While touring together last year, Virginia Genta and David Vanzan of Jooklo Duo and guitar noise improv master Bill Nace recorded this high energy collaboration, Scratch, at Seizures Palace in Brooklyn. The result you may have expected: full-throttle free-jazz noise gallivanting. And you would be right, but it is doubtful one could fully predict the value and pure euphoria that this collaboration has actually produced.
Scratch is comprised of two tracks, each completing a side of the disc. The record starts off with the squeal of Genta’s sax and the screech of Nace’s punished guitar hissing at one another as Vanzan’s thunderous percussion tumbles into the mix, setting everything into an immediate tailspin. The sound remains at a full tumultuous volume, like a rolling car wreck that just won’t settle. Surely you’ve heard noisy free-jazz do this before, but it is unlikely you’ve heard it done so brilliantly, and seemingly innately so. And due to the trio’s roller-coaster dynamism and unending inventive energy, it is impossible for a listener to habituate to their hyperactivity, as change is the only constant here. These players haven’t forgotten the freedom that their improvisation is founded on and successfully avoid traps of convention and routine that can even exist for a “genre” designed to be rid of inherent traditions. Punk became a convention, noise did as well, and there is now a plethora of contrived improvisational jazz, but Nace and Jooklo subscribe to none of these molds and have proven that an improv record can still be fresh, cohesive, and just bad ass.
Over the course of the two lengthy tracks, no instrument assumes its position or acts in debt to any established roles. Nor do the players seem to engage in some active conversation, but rather, all participate in some violent unconscious séance, raising hell for shits and giggles, discovering nothing at the end of their cerebral journey other than their own forms, and choosing to marvel at themselves instead of succumbing to existential dread.
Scratch is some hardcore fucking ecstasy driven by intuition and musical blood lust, definitely, but the record finishes us off with hushed meditation and unexpected atmospheric expansion. We’re eased out of the action gracefully, leaving a longer-lasting flavor with greater complexity on our palates.
This record really must by heard. I would dare to preemptively elect this release as record of the year.
350 copies on clear vinyl with multi-color splatter
1. Scratch Here
2. Scratch There