Exposé Online banner

Henry Kaiser & Ray Russell — The Celestial Squid
(Cuneiform Rune 403, 2015, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2015-03-09

The Celestial Squid Cover art

The first collaboration between these two sonic innovators brings us a spirited brain twisting guitar freakout of the highest order with a full-on jazz-rock ensemble in attendance. Henry Kaiser is a name that should be well known to all followers of Cuneiform, as the California based guitarist has released numerous albums on that label, as well as many others, each as unpredictable and eclectic as the next, plus outstanding collaborations like Live, Love, Larf & Loaf with John French, Fred Frith, and Richard Thompson, and The Mistakes, alongside Mike Keneally, Andy West, Prarie Prince, and Buckethead. While not as well known as Kaiser, British guitarist Ray Russell has a long career as a session musician and composer, going all the way back to the 60s, with studio credits including McCartney, Bowie, Lulu, Gill Evans, Tina Turner, Phil Collins, Marvin Gaye, and many more. He has also left his mark on numerous film soundtracks throughout the years, and has still had time to release a string of albums under his own name beginning with Rites and Rituals in the early 70s. While The Celestial Squid offers seven inspired numbers, most near or breaking the ten-minute mark, partly composed and part improvised – and often both together, bravely straddling the poles of order and chaos, it’s a completely listenable journey, in part because it’s so innovative, reaching for cosmic extremes at every turn. Those along for this journey include fretless bassist Michael Manring, upright bassist Damon Smith, drummers Weasel Walter and William Winant, and a cache of brilliant sax players in Steve Adams, Aram Shelton, Phillip Greenlief, and Joshua Allen. There’s a lot here to absorb, and it goes in a lot of different directions all at the same time; don’t expect it to all sink in on the first few plays, but persistence pays off, and The Celestial Squid will certainly reward the listener with a fun romp through rockin’ free jazz territory.

Filed under: New releases, 2015 releases

Related artist(s): Michael Manring, Ray Russell, Henry Kaiser

Latest news

Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more

Adelbert von Deyen RIP – Word reaches us that German electronic musician Adelbert von Deyen has died. His recorded legacy reaches back to 1978, when Sky Records released Sternzeit. Von Deyen, who was born October 25, 1953 in Süderbrarup, was also known as a painter and graphic artist. » Read more

Didier Lockwood RIP – Word reaches us today of the death of one of France's great jazz musicians, violinist Didier Lockwood. His playing bridged many worlds, from traditional jazz to fusion to progressive rock, and his talent can be heard on recordings by Magma, Clearlight, Pierre Moerlen's Gong, and many more. Lockwood was 62. » Read more

10 Years of Fruits de Mer - The Incomplete Angler – Those of you who are faithful followers of Exposé will know that we have been promoting Fruits de Mer and its side labels and releases from nearly its first year. Now music journalist and author Dave Thompson has written a book chronicling the past ten years as a celebration of this milestone. » Read more

Tom Rapp RIP – Singer / songwriter Tom Rapp, best known with the band Pearls Before Swine, passed away on February 12, at the age of 70, after a battle with cancer. » Read more

Previously in Exposé...

Seamus - Zealotry Sterblichen Schizophrenia – Seamus is a French/English band that takes on the monumental task of portraying the horror of the Holocaust. The music is very intense, even abstract at times, as Seamus tries to convey the anguished...  (2008) » Read more

Listen & discover

Print issues