A few years back i purchased Busy Curious Thursty
by Spring Heel Jack. That's a pretty good electronic album --
interesting beats and nice droning washes of sound. I was very
interested to see that SHJ were participating in The Blue
Series Continuum, which is apparently a series of Jazz meets
Electronica albums. Sounded interesting.
The reality, sadly, is not very interesting. I was expected
jazz songs cut up and re-pasted together. A flurry of wierd
loops and strange beats. Instead Masses sounds
like Spring Heel Jack stood in the studio with a jazz ensemble,
and every once in a while would emit a sound from their laptop.
So this is a jazz album, and it's real stars are Tim Berne
and Guillermo Brown. Their jazz vision drives this album. Spring
Heel Jack are, well, they were there, in the studio, hanging
out. I am still not sure why this "collaboration" was done.
It accomplishes nothing. And why is "Spring Heel Jack" on the
album cover? They don't really appear to have done too much
here. I suppose that it's a marketing thing: Spring Heel Jack
are "electronica", so it's cool and the kids will buy it. Jazz
-- that's so old, who cares. Young kids don't buy jazz, only
crusty old music geeks like me!
That said, it's not even good jazz. Berne, Brown, and
the rest of their ensemble rarely really let loose. The songs
are short, almost stunted, as if they were never fully finished.
Almost, just almost, as if Berne, et al. expected Spring
Heel Jack to take the tapes and "remix" the recordings. With
some looping and some layering, this could have been really
Instead, it's an unfinished work. Most of the tracks go nowhere
and do nothing. The only remarkable portion of the album starts
with the painfully short Interlude 1, wherein ambient
washes are joined with Roy Campbell's delightful trumpet. This
piece flows into Masses, where for five and a half glorious
minutes Berne, Campbell, and Brown actually let loose and play.
Alas, that's it. No more. The rest of the album never comes
together as either jazz or electronica. And when i am done,
i am torn between going and putting on some Coltrane or some
Autechre. Something complete, something that really finishes
what it starts. Now that i think about it, Autechre remixing
Jupiter Variations would be really cool.....
I am highly disappointed. This album had a lot of potential.
The people involved could have created something of great beauty,
had they really tried.