The "jam" is one of those musical devices that walks a delicately drawn fine line. On one side are classics like Can's "Halleluwah" or The Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray," both of which are defined by an embrace of improvisation, interplay and gradual evolution that keep the song fresh throughout a roughly 20-minute run time. But on the other side, you have endless journeys of gratuitous musical masturbation that create a significant imbalance of enjoyment between the players and their audience. Walking this line is obviously difficult; though defined by higher tier musicianship, an effective jam band can't venerate their abilities as musicians at the expense of songcraft, particularly in terms of defining the genres and styles from which the extended composition is being drawn out of. All of this makes it that much more impressive that Mother Engine have not only mastered the "jam" formula, but excelled at replicating that equation fourfold on their third full-length outing Hangar, which we're stoked to be able to premiere for you in full.
Bees Made Honey in the Vein Tree piqued my interest from the moment I came across their Bandcamp page. Much of what first drew me to Earth's masterpiece Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull is present on BMHVT's debut Medicine: an alluring cover, unique title and promises of an expansive, mesmerizing take on doom metal. It's this last point that sweetened the deal like hemp-infused honey candy, and if you're at all a fan of all things sludge and doom, you'd be wise to succumb to what this psychedelic dose of Medicine has to offer.
One of the most unique and consistent contemporary avant-garde bands, The Necks are perhaps most notable for carving out and perfecting their own meditative niche. On the surface, the Australian group's roster solicits expectations for a standard jazz trio - Chris Abrahams (piano, organ), Tony Buck (drums, percussion) and Lloyd Swanton (bass) seem to hearken back to the golden age of bare-bones bop and bandleaders like Bill Evans and Thelonious Monk. But these Aussies differ in how far they stretch their jazz roots into the avant-garde, comparable to but far beyond albums like John Coltrane's A Love Supreme and Pharaoh Sander's Karma. Though there's a distinctly transcendental, spiritual vibe to The Necks' music, the trio's approach to this style is heavily informed by the sparseness of artists like Evans and Monk, with a considerable focus on minimalism, improvisation and ambiance that stretches their musical atmosphere from a smoky, luxurious piano lounge into a general ether of organic landscapes.
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