Sunday, February 21, 2016

AMM - 1988 - The Crypt - 12th June 1968

The Crypt - 12th June 1968

101. Like A Cloud Hanging In The Sky?    45:21

201. Coffin Nor Shelf    45:36
202. Neither Bill Nor Axe Would Shorten Its Existence    18:08

Guitar, Electronics, Artwork – Keith Rowe
Percussion – Christopher Hobbs, Eddie Prévost
Piano, Cello – Cornelius Cardew
Saxophone, Violin – Lou Gare

Recorded at the Crypt, Lancaster Road, London W11, 12th June 1968.
Previously released (two editions) as a two-album box set with music duration of just over 78 minutes. This is the first release of the complete session.

This early AMM double is one of their most highly-regarded.  Compared to the handful of other early AMM albums I own, it definitely falls into their "early" period--very noisy, a lot of feedback, and the audio fidelity is not exactly superb (but much better than on AMMMusic).  It's so hard to rate albums by AMM, since they exist almost completely apart from most other music genres.  To me, this album features the most homogeneous sound of all their releases I own--the album art ingeniously captures the sound of the first half of the show: it's a whole lot of screechy noise in which it's extremely difficult to differentiate instruments from each other.  What's so compelling, though, is the texture; since there are multiple instruments involved, it's constantly changing, fluid and undulating.  These guys are the masters at what they do.  The second half is still pretty noisy, but it hints more toward where the group was going later in their career, toward the more varied dynamics of albums I really enjoy like Generative Themes and Combine + Laminates.  So, the album's staticky sound is a bit of a drawback, but it's also one of the coolest things about it--since part of the point of free improvisation is actually hearing it only once in the unrepeatable moment, I'm sure the 40 minute expanse of feedback and high frequency was an incredible experience in which the homogeneity made the passing of time a very different feeling.  If you can't get in the mood, though, it's boring in addition to being potentially very irritating.  Therein lie my small complaints--I can appreciate this release, but there are other AMM albums for which I'm more often in the mood.

UPDATE: I've now wholly embraced this as a great album, though you still have to be in the mood.  Wrote a much more rhapsodic review here. 
"Noise"-haters, please exit through the wings--I'm not here to argue about whether or not this is "noise" or music, nor am I here to apologize for the characteristics of the sounds contained here; I wholly understand that most people probably won't enjoy how this sounds, but the validity of the assertion that someone can and does enjoy this isn't up for debate.  Not that the two are mutually exclusive, but one great thing about being an AMM fan compared with loving Captain Beefheart and Trout Mask Replica is, for the most part, you don't have a chorus of sanctimonious people telling you that you're lying about liking how it sounds--even fewer people give a shit about AMM.

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