Dave Tucker West Coast Project - "Tenderloin"
(Pax Recordings 2004, PR90264)
Uploaded to Aural Innovations: June 2004
I'd never heard of Dave Tucker before but was interested to note on the Pax web site that he was the guitarist for The Fall during 1980-81, as well as working with the London Improvisers' Orchestra and The School of Velocity with Evan Parker. In addition to Tucker on guitar and electronics, the musicians on Tenderloin include Ernesto Diaz-Infante on acoustic guitar, Danielle DeGruttola on cello, Damon Smith on double bass, Scott R. Looney on real-time laptop processing, and Garth Powell on drums and percussion.
The CD opens with "SoMa", a combination of small ensemble orchestration, rock elements and freaky effects. The long drawn out cello lines create a somber mood, while the guitars, bass and percussion perform center ring circus acrobatics and the electronics ricochet dangerously about. The music is firmly in the avant-garde free-improv realm. But that said... this track, and others like it, really rock out. Ditto for "Amoeba Cleaned Me Out!", an intensely passionate avant-jazz and rock piece, embellished by some searing acidic guitar lines. All musicians are in high energy mode, though Powell really shines on the drums. There's an edge-of-your-seat quality on many of these tunes where the musicians transition easily between thrashing chaotic frenzy and tension laced calm. Some of my favorite moments on the album are when the cello is playing slow, heart stirring lines while the rest of the band is jamming away speedily. Yet even during the wildest jams every detail of each instruments contribution can be detected. "Mission Dolores" is a bit different, with the guitar sounding like a psychedelic Robert Fripp. Among the calmer tracks, "Laguna" is probably my favorite, being something like a spaced out avant-garde soundtrack to a 1960's William Castle horror flick. And I dig the searing noise-psych guitars mixed with a sort of Univers Zero styled chamber vibe on "Left Luggage". Overall this is a hot and varied set that will delight free-improv devotees who dig a ballsy, high energy avant-rock and jazz edge. Recommended.
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Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz