Exposé Online banner

Jasun Martz — The Pillory - The Battle
(Under the Asphalt UTA 061853, 2006, 2CD)

by Peter Thelen, 2005-09-01:

The Pillory - The Battle Cover art

Some 28 years ago Martz released his first epic, The Pillory, to great critical acclaim, with its massed Mellotrons and dreamy atmospherics, and then he drifted off the screen for all this time. Now it’s time for Martz’ second brush with acclaim, as the second part, The Pillory / The Battle, is finally here. As before, this is music squarely in the electro-acoustic vein, involving well over a hundred instrumentalists and vocalists to achieve a result that flows between the poles of minimalist ambient, avant-garde, rock, and heavy symphonic with occasional flare-ups that reach intense levels of energy. The seven tracks that span two discs are simple titled “Battle 1,” “Battle 2,” etc. and the former kicks off disc one with a sidelong brooding dark symphonic opus with choirs and a series of floating dreamlike sequences. The second battle introduces a more grandiose melodic statement and uses all of the orchestra – this is more along the lines of modern classical music, with the introduction of many vivid themes and developments. Next up is a tribal rock jam in odd meter with electric guitars, bass and drums, crowned with some intense violin soloing, which leads directly into the chaos of “Battle 4,” which could best be described as a short avant-garde exercise dominated by random metal percussive events. Onward to the next battle, where heavy pipe organ musings create a dense wall of shimmering chords, before the disc closes with a nine minutes of ambient drift. “Battle 7”, which occupies all of disc 2, is an extended ambient drone peppered with industrial elements – if you last through the big symphonic build-up at the very end with your eyes open, then you’ve probably consumed too much caffeine. In all, this is some exceptional music that covers a lot of ground, maybe too much ground, but patience will reward.


by Sean McFee, 2005-09-01:

This 2-CD set is supposed to be a sequel to Martz’s original Pillory album, which I have not heard (anyone want to send me a copy?). This ambitious undertaking, split into the CDs “The Pillory” and “The Battle”, utterly stretches Martz’s abilities as a composer and arranger. Combining elements of ambient, electronic, avant-garde, and even a little progressive rock, “The Pillory” is a difficult listening experience if taken sequentially, sprawling and struggling under its own weight. The breaking apart of the seventy minutes of music into six tracks helps in its digestion. It works better as ambient music, with the dynamic contrasts forcing the music in and out of the listener’s active mode. The album involves submissions of music by fans from around the world, writing parts for unusual instrumentation and avoiding obvious melodies, subsequently arranged by Martz. This technique appears to be used more on “The Battle,” a single huge track making up disc two. That he is able to get anything musical out of this is to his credit, and the trade-offs of this approach are self-evident; unity for chance, cohesion for a stab at genius. The results are mostly incidental, even inchoate, with Martz’s main success being in the creation of a sonic otherworld reminiscent of Magical Power Mako meets Steve Roach. Clearly not for everyone, The Pillory / The Battle is best undertaken by a listener open to challenging their ideas about music, or eager to pull the secrets out of the seeming chaos.


by Jeff Melton, 2005-09-01:

Ex-Zappa sideman and painter Jasun Martz is also a semi-classical electro-acoustic composer who has been operating under your popular music radar for sometime. His initial recording, The Pillory, received critical acclaim and is recognized as a seminal symphonic work that defies straightforward classification. Elements of this seven-part two CD set cross a wide range of styles accentuating assimilation of Mellotron string samples merged with orchestral arrangements. Martz himself is an instrumentalist and handles most electric instrumentation himself except for help from a few notables such as Mark Shreeve. What is clear after a few passes is that the creator’s mindset is committed to smooth transitions between disparate musical styles. When it all works best is on parts three and five, where the instrumentation and performance come together. Part three relies heavily on a primitive percussion cadenza to build tension into a hard rocking passage driven by riffing guitars and Michelle Frioli’s gypsy violin. Part five opens with a Vidna Obmana like idea that transitions into a powerful gothic theme stated on pipe organ. Other sections such as part four are less successful possibly due to the inclusion of free improvisation after a heavy obsessive theme that doesn’t fully resolve. The closing part seven takes up the entire second disc and is a 74 minute amalgamation that leaves the listener exhausted after traversing a long road. Overall Martz stature in the electro-acoustic genre is further solidified though as a major composer and artist.


Filed under: New releases , Issue 32 , 2006 releases

Related artist(s): Jasun Martz, Hadley Kahn

More info

Latest news

2017-10-18
Phil Miller RIP – Sad word reaches us today of the passing of another of the great musicians of the Canterbury Scene — guitarist Phil Miller. His distinctive sound added greatly to Matching Mole, Hatfield and the North, and National Health, and he also contributed to albums by Caravan, Dave Stewart $amp; Barbara Gaskin, and many others. He was 68. » Read more

2017-10-13
Moonjune to Distribute Tony Levin's Back Catalog – It has been announced that Moonjune will now handle distribution for Tony Levin's catalog of releases. These great albums will now be a bit easier to get hold of, so check out the site and see what you're missing. The veteran of King Crimson and Stick Men worked with a host of great players on these albums, and we've reviewed most of them over the course of the years. » Read more

2017-09-26
Bandcamp Shines Light on Niches We Like – Bandcamp has developed into one of the best places to discover new music, and even a lot of old music is showing up there. In addition, their staff has been producing periodic articles spotlighting some interesting stylistic areas. On 20 September, they published one called "The New Face of Prog Rock" which bears checking out. » Read more

2017-09-06
Holger Czukay RIP – Holger Czukay, a musical experimentalist without boundaries who has been involved with expanding the sound palette of rock music since the late 60s, has died at the age of 79. After studying with Karlheinz Stockhausen in the early 60s, he became fascinated with the possibilities of rock music, and was a co-founder of the pioneering group Can. He leaves behind an impressive body of work both as musician and producer. » Read more

2017-08-22
John Abercrombie RIP – Another of the greats of jazz guitar has left us. John Abercrombie plied his way through a beautiful series of albums on the ECM label as well as bringing his talent to bear on albums by many of jazz's greatest artists. From his early work in the group Dreams to Gateway and outstanding work with Billy Cobham, Jack DeJohnette, Kenny Wheeler, and many more to his own trios and quartets, he brought a unique instrumental voice to the world. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Steve Hackett - Tribute – During the last decade many British rock musicians either went classic or strengthened their classical roots: examples range from Jon Lord to Roger Waters, from Mike Oldfield to Sting. Steve...  (2008) » Read more

Michel Zenino - Dérive Gauche – Zenino is a double-bassist, bandleader and arranger, working through a set of French “chanson” pieces arranged for an instrumental jazz quartet (bass, drums, piano and sax). His credentials...  (2004) » Read more

Trilogy - Here It Is – With a name like Trilogy, one may have some preconceived ideas as to what this band is all about. The fact that four hands man the keyboards may further lead one to believe that this is some kind of...  (1994) » Read more

Fonya - Earth Shaper – Fonya is Chris Fournier, a multi-instrumentalist adept at making instrumental symphonic progressive rock in a variety of moods. The album is primarily keyboard-based, using modern keyboard sounds as...  (1996) » Read more

Randone - Nuvole di Ieri, Ricordi & Hybla Act 1 – Oddly enough, for their first release on Electromantic, Randone was a trio: Nicola Randone on vocals and guitar (who had previously released material under his full name); Marco Crispi on lead guitar,...  (2006) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues