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coverpic flag Canada - Full Moon 190 - 03/08/12

Thom Gossage Other Voices
In Other Words

Inexplicably, In Other Words begins with the sound of a Jew's harp. Yes, a Jew's harp. I don't think I've ever heard a Jew's Harp used in such a way that its utter uselessness as a musical instrument is transcended. It always makes me think of light-hearted travel shows about the Australian outback. The Jew's harp is justly maligned. Thankfully, in the case of "Id Est (In Other Words)", the sound of the Jew's harp is soon subsumed by percussion, vibraphone, scribbles of guitar, upright bass and saxophone. Yes, this is jazz.

I've tried time and time again to get into jazz, but it always sounds too, ahem, 'jazzy', or, in the case of In Other Words, too damned ornery and abstract. So, it's either smooth music for sipping cocktails to, or intellectually complex stuff to get your brain tangled in knots. Either way, it just ain't my scene, cats. Yet, try and try again seems to be my unspoken approach.

My main reason for trying repeatedly to understand and, heaven forbid, perhaps enjoy this particular release is that it features Steve Raegele on guitar. Steve released an excellent album called Last Century a couple of years ago. Steve's playing here is very scribbly and involves lots of intervallic leaps that leave you disorientated. In fact, the album seems to be an exercise in disorientation. There's no groove. It's all clatter and clang and screech and parf. I love Captain Beefheart, but at least I started to get into Trout Mask Replica after 20 listens, using his growl to navigate the racket. Here, with no such bellwether, I feel like I'm about to have a panic attack and have to turn it off.

Maybe, given some time, patience and a particularly open mind, I'll find this to be some kind of transcendent work of genius. Until then, it does my fucking head in.

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