The Hand To Man Band (Mike Watt, John Dieterich, Tim Barnes, & Thollem McDonas) have dropped their first music video, for their song “The Down Moveables”.
Created by Marcos Sanchez, the video combines disturbing found footage with cute and innocent original animations for an effect that is both stomach churning and soothing at the same time. The song is from the band’s debut album, ‘You Are Always on our Minds’, out now on vinyl, cd, and digital from Post-Consumer.
A conjoining of heavy minds has come to fruition this year with the trio full length outing on the Porter Records imprint The Gowanus Session. The immeasurable guitar musings and 3-D sheets of Nels Cline shaft out a sea of ideas as legendary free jazz double bassist William Parker anchors the group down with one of the newest leading pioneers into high forms of experimental music, pianist Thollem McDonas. Sonic visionary and Los Angeles native Nels Cline is easily one of the most innovative and technical guitar players alive. The mans roots are now deeply planted in the Chicago based alternative rock band Wilco, his main projects Nels Cline Singers and Nels Cline trio with an enormous amount of collaborations, guest appearances and the rest in the last few decades. Charlie Haden, Zach Hill, Mike Watt, Willie Nelson and Thurstoon More are just a few of the artists who comprise his 150+ list of album credit releases. William Parker is one musician in the free jazz world who has appeared everywhere, much like Nels Cline. His studies under John Coltrane’s bassist Jimmy Garrison and many others has given his stand up bass work a presence and command only few have achieved. Pianist Thollem McDonas plays in a pure setting on this session, with a grand piano serving as his vehicle of expression. Cluster space chords reminiscent of Thelonious Monk, Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra define his outer world note configurations that are a large basis to the compositional approach he instills with The Gowanus Session.
Thollem, Parker and Cline’s The Gowanus Session is improvisatory music that is the proliferation of higher connected states in raw, unrestricted form. Nels Cline serves as the color pallet, the shapes that morph into the oddest forms you could ever imagine. Feedback to sonic barrages of highly complex and high velocity angular note patterns, Nels Cline transforms his guitar into a monolithic canvas of micro driven detail that never stops unfolding in closer examination. As a call to perception, the titles of the songs explain this record best. “There are as many worlds in a life as there are lives in the world” is the sequence of words broken up over the 6 tracks that make up The Gowanus Session.
The first piece from The Gowanus Session, ‘There are’, begins with Thollem McDonas wallowing around in oddly configured note runs that manage to chase around one another through the mix as each cycle passes. Nels Cline calls out a beautiful sound that pitches itself into a really low tone from the beginning. Cline approaches his guitar with a deconstructive mentality towards the norm, giving a placement of wildly displaced sounds that slide every which way. Bassist William Parker has a really full tone and posture inside of this piece as well, unraveling colossal runs on his stand up that never lose depth or presence. Nels Cline pushes his guitar to high extremes in short bursts, acting like the sound of hearing someone change a TV channel numerous amounts of times. The improvisatory methods and identities characterize everyone right away and the tone for how each one will play off one another has only just begun. William Parker uses a bow mid way into ‘There are’, giving way to a moment of chaos that the three flourish in entrancingly.
The second piece on the album, ‘as many worlds’, is more cohesive in shape and William Parker’s stand up bass presence over Thollem McDonas’ rapid piano lines is incredible, really pushing into the heaviest parts of the low end and setting the emotional tone that runs after it. The ending becomes separated from the inside and the three journey into very far worlds from one another. Traveling even further into the cosmic shadings and cluster chord chaos of Sun Ra and Cecil Taylor comes at its most dramatic form in the third piece, ‘in a life’. The emotional nature of the song becomes heated and boiled with Nels Cline bringing in a set of effects that pushes his guitar out of the subtle shadings and hits you with massive force. Thoolem McDonas plays masterful chord cluster phrases that are mind boggling, doubling on melody to create further mirrors of the same notes, just in different positions. The bass work from Parker never lets up and sustains an anchor, but allows for every amount of exploration a bassist could want. Nels Cline constantly takes off and lands, cycling through a bag of effects and striking note blasts that marvels the last as they come.
The song that really launches into the most abstract and blissful state is ‘lives’ the fifteen minute opus to noise, psychotic tonal power, high advanced forms of musicianship and cosmic voyages into the unknown. Nels Cline’s guitar tone is one of the most marvelous I have ever heard of any guitar processed by effects. It is this type of rendering of melodic identity that makes this unrestricted, alive and ready to completely alter your state of mind. The Gowanus Session are perfect for anyone to an exploratory outing from some of the most talented and forward thinking musicians to sit in a room and create together. Porter Records is one of the best labels housing new music and reissues, and this is one of the most shocking and sonically assaulting albums I have heard from them and I couldn’t love it more.
Thollem / Parker / Cline
The Gowanus Session
- There are
- as many worlds
- in a life
- as there are
- in the world