The Splatter Trio HI-FI JUNK NOTE (RASTASCAN)
SINCE ITS LAST studio release, Anagrams, nearly four years ago, the Bay Area's Splatter Trio has taken its improv aesthetic to the next level of recording technology. Edited and mastered by Splatter guitarist-bassist Myles Boisen, Hi-Fi Junk Note is improv's answer to plunderphonics -- the sampling, editing, manipulating, and overdubbing techniques that John Oswald has applied to the music of the Beatles, Stravinsky, Tim Buckley, Metallica, and the Grateful Dead, and local Dead affiliate David Gans used on his privately issued Mutilaudio CD.
Taking 75 to 80 pieces of music recorded over the past three years -- including live sets from Seattle, Houston, Cleveland -- Boisen, percussionist Gino Robair, and saxophonist Dave Barrett have spliced, merged, and overlapped their compositions and performances into a kind of alien-alloy-clad space music fit for fans of Anthony Braxton, Sun Ra, and AMM.
Conventional notions of background and foreground, rhythm section groove, theme and solo, and meter and harmony are subverted by this fractured, hall-of-mirrors approach. The players -- augmented by J.A. Deane (live sampling), Eric Muhs (guitar, trumpet, and electronics), and Bil King (cleft ch'in) -- become musical contortionists, twisting sounds into "unnatural" shapes and configurations that dance across the meticulously engineered "hi-fi" soundscape.
On Junk Note there are stretches of steady beats, snippets of jazz-related solos, intimations of everything from rock to Stockhausen to the gamelan, and an explicit, rubbery reference to dub. But these nine tracks, with such titles as "Party Horn Rumbles," "The Sinatra Variations," and "Popular Errors in Haiku/Do You Want My Job?" are deliberate and canny sonic breakdowns that require new, unprejudiced modes of listening. The effect is sometimes claustrophobic, sometimes expansive, holding you captive like a disturbing dream from which you don't necessarily want to escape.
The Splatter Trio celebrates the release of Hi-Fi Junk Note with J.A. Deane sampling live, Wed/8, 8:30 p.m., at Beanbender's in the Berkeley Store Gallery Annex, 2295 Shattuck, Berk. $5. (510) 528-8440. Derk Richardson