A trumpet screams. Then its owner screams. New York-born and New York-based, but Chicago-schooled, Jaimie Branch leads her quartet, FLY or DIE. `Cos that`s what we do, right? We “fly or die”.
The recordings on the outfit`s second LP, II: Bird Dogs Of Paradise are taken from recent tour dates in London. Sets captured at Cafe Oto and The Total Refreshment Centre, then edited, overdubbed and fucked with by Jaimie. With influences that include both Ornette Coleman and Minor Threat, it`s no surprise that the screech and skronk here is raw. The closest current comparison, for me at least, is fellow New Yorkers, Onyx Collective. Addressing the state of the world right now, the record is also mightily pissed-off.
A Prayer For AmeriKKKa is a “warning honey”. “Those wide-eyed rascits” “digging in your paycheck” “they`re coming for you”. Its Mexican mariachi blasts bringing down THE WALL and underlining its “I hate you” refrain, as its blues accelerates from a spiritual to outrage. Love Song, a muted, wah-wahed, cynical show-tune parody, more a mantra than a song, is dedicated to “all those arseholes and clowns out there”.
Drums are kicked, cymbals crash. Strings scratch, and near break. Synths swoop and dive, atonal, discordant, like angry seabirds. A limber kalimba dances while feet stamp and stomp to keep time. The cacophony and free-jazz free-for-all of Twenty-Three N Me, Jupiter Redux contrasts with the latin carnivalesque Simple Silver Surfer. The music finding its most accessible groove on Nuevo Roquero Estereo. But still knobs are twisted and subliminal specters are summoned, banished, and summoned, in dubwise delay.
Shouting, hollering, howling, with a furious art at its heart, Jaimie and FLY or DIE would have been a damn fine addition to Vinyl Factory’s recent Basquiat tribute. There`s a touch of Gray in their edgy use of noise. Another comparison might be the champion sound of the Art Ensemble Of Chicago. There`s also something of Tom Waits` musical mutations in the way the quartet combine folk and jazz tropes, distort tradition.
Jaimie Branch`s FLY or DIE II: Bird Dogs Of Paradise was released October 11th, on Scottie McNiece`s International Anthem Recording Company.
Nicole, sorry, typhoon #19 held up the review.