Album ReviewsReviews

Album Review: Weasel Walter, Mary Halvorson, Peter Evans – Mechanical Malfunction

on November 05, 2012, 7:56am
Mechanical Malfunction C-
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As a founding member of Chicago’s no-wave jazz-metal Flying Luttenbachers, drummer Weasel Walter has been described as a punk Louis Bellson. Prior to relocating to California, Walter was instrumental in developing Chicago’s No Wave scene, working in over 20 different acts (not counting collaborations) since the early 90s. Mary Halvorson was described by Chicago Reader critic Peter Margasak as “probably the most original jazz guitarist to emerge this decade” and as “the future of jazz guitar” by jazz critic Troy Collins. Still in his twenties, trumpeter Peter Evans is already a leader in the New York avant garde and free-improvisational scenes. Together this trio produces a chaotic fusion that on the surface, can be abrasive and migraine-inducing, but underneath shows to be more than simply three people clanging about.

When Weasel, Halvorson, and Evans released their 2011 debut together Electric Fruit, the three dove in playing pure, free improvised music. The quirky, frenetic sounds of chaos combined into an array of cacophony that surprisingly became somewhat pleasant to listen to once one’s mind shut off just a little to be able to decipher the melody. On the trio’s second release, Mechanical Malfunction, the three again utilize their tremendous skill and improvisational interplay but in addition, this time out, the trio decided to actually create themes and structures upon which to improvise around. In doing so, according to Evans, the band was “[pushed] out of [their] comfort zone.”

From the angular punk jazz of Walter’s “Vektor” to the succinct compositional codas of Halvorson’s “Organ Grinder” and the epic 12-minute “Interface” featuring Walter’s relentlessly frenzied drumming, Walter/Halvorson/Evans have produced a wide array of blistering performances and emotionally raw sounds. Halvorson reflected, “Adding composition to the band created a new layer of complexity, challenging our familiar ways…”. Challenging indeed, and if you can get through it, rewarding, too.

Essential Tracks: “Organ Grinder”, “Interface”

 

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