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Earphonious Swamphony by BLOB

Back-when, there was a TV preview-trailer for the science-fiction movie The Blob (the original, not the 1980s remake) that scared the living [fill in blank] out of me. “The monster that can’t be killed,” screamed the icy voice-over. The Blob was this formless, massive organism that basically absorbed anything living that it touched, growing ever larger in the process. Around the same time (we're talking late 1950s), the scary monsters of free jazz and rock & roll were threatening the world, and to a similar degree they were looked upon as aberrations and threats to everything good and decent. Some citizens of the world were flipping their wigs [in the good way] over Elvis Presley, Little Richard, and Ornette Coleman, whilst others pointed to them as harbingers of the end of Western Civilization Like the Blob, these musical demons expanded, contaminating many and disgusting others—some critics and record companies tried to “contain” the monsters, and while they’d “hurt” them a little they couldn’t “stop” them.

Bringing us, dear Reader, to BLOB, a band/collective of eclectic and seemingly disparate types that combine and commingle aspects of free jazz, rock, funk, free improvisation, sampling (of outdoor and “swamp” ambient sounds), and post-John Cage classical composition. “Form” in the traditional sense has been supplanted by group interaction and extended techniques (pushing instruments beyond their generally perceived capabilities). Which is not to suggest that rhythm, grooves, and a solid beat are abandoned—they are suggested, established, then ebb in and out like the tides. It often sounds like (and more importantly, feels like) BLOB as a band is sonically recreating wetlands at night, complete with the mystery, beauty, and flat-out creepiness.

John Lindberg bows and slaps and plugs in his acoustic bass into some electronics to incite it to spew gnarly, grungy-sound electronic effects. Ralph Carney, bless him, draws all manner of growls, wails, and shouts out of his battery of wind instruments. Ted Orr follows in the footsteps of six-stringers such as John McLaughlin (at his most extreme moments), Sonny Sharrock, and Raoul Björkenheim. Drummer Harvey Sorgen sizzles, crackles, spatters, and splatters. If you seek the head/solos/head format or music that follows “conventional” logic, you’re liable to be disappointed with Earphonious Swamphony. If you can imagine outtakes of Bitches Brew with Roscoe Mitchell in Miles Davis’ place or if Bernard Herrmann collaborated with Bill Laswell’s Material for the soundtrack of Cape Fear 2: When Frogs Attack, then this BLOB is ready for you and vice versa.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: BLOB
  • CD Title: Earphonious Swamphony
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2010
  • Record Label: Innova
  • Rating: Four Stars
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