MJ12 — MJ12
(Gonzo Multimedia HST402C, 2016, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 2016-11-07
At first, this album seemed to come out of nowhere, a release from a band I never heard of. But one look at the personnel and my hopes went up. The name Percy Jones jumps out, bringing up all sorts of wonderful associations, most notably with Brand X, though of course he’s been a part of many other great recordings, ranging from Brian Eno to Steve Hackett to Tunnels and more. The other names — Stephen Moses (drums), Chris Bacas (saxophone), and David Phelps (guitar) — are less familiar, though a little research turns up Moses working with Michael Zentner, Gary Windo, Blind Melon, Voltaire, Alice Donut, and more. Phelps shows up on recordings by John Zorn, Peter Apfelbaum, and even Public Enemy. Right out of the gate, “Call 911” brings to mind the kind of energetic, quirky jazz rock of Unorthodox Behaviour, though with a sax and without keyboards. The sprightly 7/8 piece builds into a great unison line, then breaks into a crazy guitar solo. Jones’ massive fretless sound slips and slides around for a really tasty backing to the guitar, then they hit the unison part again before Bacas takes a turn. During the sax solo, Moses’ tricky cymbal work is impressive, keeping the rapid rhythm going even at low volume. “Bad American Dream Pt 2” starts out with a beautiful bass solo backed by what must be washes of guitar synth, and later features gritty slide work from Phelps. On the whole, the music is much more jazz oriented than Brand X was, even in the earliest times, which I’d put down to the presence of the sax, and the fact that Phelps is much less of a rock guitarist, much more into avant-garde sounds and effects, than John Goodsall. Some parts of the album are very loose sounding, nearly free improvisation, and it’s great to hear Percy Jones in this kind of setting, with room to wander, tossing in his harmonics and sliding fills. MJ12 gives me everything I want in an electric jazz recording and avoids all of the overindulgent technical showboating that fusion so often falls prey to.
Asia Minor Third Album on the Way – On January 29, AMS records will be releasing the long-awaited third album by classic Turkish-French band Asia Minor. Released last year in Japan, this will be the widespread debut of Points of Libration. The album features original members Setrak Bakirel (vocals, guitar) and Eril Tekeli (flute, guitar). » Read more
Harold Budd RIP – Harold Budd, one of pre-eminent American composers of avant-garde and minimalism, has died of complications from the coronavirus. Budd came to prominence in the 70s, championed by Brian Eno on his Obscure Records label, with music that blended academic minimalism with electric jazz and electronic music. Much of Budd's best known work was done in collaboration with other artists, including Eno, Daniel Lanois, Robin Guthrie, Andy Partridge, John Foxx, Jah Wobble, and many others. » Read more
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more