Swans – The Glowing Man

The Glowing Man caps off a four album musical victory lap from a reinvigorated Gira, who convened a group of new and old collaborators at the turn of the decade to culminate Swans’ mission statement. A moderate re-introduction arrived with My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky (2010), an admittedly great album that struggled with its reliance on ideas from Gira side-project Angels of Light. Yet, any early detractors scurried away once Swans unleashed The Seer (2012), easily one of the greatest albums of the decade and century thus far. Gira and crew’s experimental capabilities and limitless mindset led to a magnanimous statement of mood, sound and anti-structure that leveraged every aspect of Swans’ three-decade career in the most effective way possible. The Seer seemed inimitable, and To Be Kind (2014) proved that point correct – by demolishing Swans’ already desolate structure and rebuilding it in an adjacent, bastardized fashion.

The Jazz Club Vol. 6 – Accessibility, Defining Jazz and Blind Purchases

Welcome to yet another Jazz Club, where we get to take a break from the admittedly wonderful world of metal in exchange for some horns and sax and plenty of Miles Davis. Honestly, we tossed around topic ideas for today, but nothing really seemed to stick, so we’re going to have a much more conversational installment centering around various questions we’ve been mulling over lately. Sorry ahead of time, unless this turns out great, which in that case, you’re welcome.

The Jazz Club Vol. 5 – Gateway Drugs: Jazz Albums for Metalheads

After we provided a general introduction for the genre in our last Jazz Club, Jimmy and I tossed around the idea of writing an adjacent piece catered specifically to metal fans. As with any genre, it’s easier to crack into the overall style with a handful of bands or albums that incorporate elements from genres that the listener is already familiar with. There are some pretty strong links between jazz and metal, which made it easy to select a well-rounded list of albums to recommend for metal fans who want their jazz to have an added edge. Some of these releases lean more towards one genre than the other, but they’re all excellent in their own right and provide a solid, metallic gateway into jazz.

Fire! Orchestra – Ritual (Can This Even Be Called Music?)

To understand what Fire! Orchestra is, we have to first know whence it came. And that would be the Fire! trio. Since 2009, Fire! is comprised of mastermind, saxophonist, and keyboardist Mats Gustafsson (who is widely known as a great jazz musician, especially for his improvisational style), bassist Johan Berthling, and drummer Andreas Werliin, both of whom are also known in the Swedish jazz scene for their work in other bands. As of today, they have released three full-length albums on their own, as well as two collaborations – one with Oren Ambarchi (In the Mouth a Hand), and one with Jim O’Rourke (Unreleased?) – plus a couple of EPs. They gained further recognition by playing fresh, inspired and energetic avant-jazz, getting better with each subsequent album, culminating with their 2016 release, She Sleeps, She Sleeps. Back in 2012, they had the idea of expanding their formula with the addition of an orchestra. Now with nineteen musicians instead of three, there was much more space for experimentation and variety, although there was already a lot of both in their simpler format.

Starter Kit: John Zorn

Despite being relatively underground in the general world of music, John Zorn has established himself as one of the most important avant-garde musicians ever. With one of the most prolific discographies in music—accounting to about 90+ solo albums and 50+ side projects in genres ranging from classical to film score work to jazz to metal to free and structured improvisation and (seemingly) everything in between—Zorn has simply conquered music, like a sax-wielding Alexander the Great.

Half-Life – Sunn O)))

Even the staunchest Sunn O))) fan has to realize why the band is some of the most polarizing groups in underground music. Core duo Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson took idea of a gargantuam wall of guitars – pioneered by Earth’s debut Earth 2: Special Low Frequency Version – and escalated it beyond its logical extent at the time,…

Half Life – Tool

Tool is a band that has a special place in every metal fan’s heart. Now, that place varies, depending on the fan—some people wear their respect for the band on their sleeves (quite literally in many cases), while others view Tool as just another pretentious “experimental” band, completely overrated, with…

Shining – One One One

As you can probably tell, we really enjoy our avant-garde. We dedicated a whole week to it, and many of the writers here, this one included, have countless favorites. One of the bands that many of us really enjoy, however, is Norwegian blackjazz avant-garde specialists Shining. Their last album, 2010’s Blackjazz, completely blew us away, and their live DVD that followed was every bit as good. However, it’s been nearly three years since the band have put out a new studio record, and the question remained: how could they possibly top such a phenomenal record?