Virgil Moorefield — Distractions on the Way to the King's Party
(Rune 56, 1994, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1994-05-01Moorefield was a guitarist (one of many), then drummer, with Glenn Branca's ensemble for many years. This is his first album in a decade and his first for Cuneiform. He plays drums here and did all of the album's compositions and arrangements; his ensemble consists of three guitars, bass guitar, alto and tenor saxes, trumpet and trombone. The music here could best be described as angular rock with a fairly strong jazz and neo-classical content, filled with complex understructures, where the brass and saxes handle most of the melodics (and occasional dissonance, giving a slight Crimsonesque-industrial feel to some of the tunes), while the guitars typically spin a web of looping interwoven arpeggios just under the surface, not unlike those of Fripp's Crafties, yet the end result here is wildly different. Occasionally one or more of the guitars will follow the melody, while the brass plays around in the understructure, essentially trading places. Meanwhile, Moorefield and bassest Hideki Kato are busy at the bottom end defining frames and offering undercurrents that ripple all the way to the surface. I've listened to this album fifty times if I've listened to it once, and each time some new element within the music reveals itself to me, especially on the more uptempo tracks like "Healing Power," "Seelisberg," and "Untitled." "Funk Trouble" offers some instant appeal with an almost-familiar refrain, punctuated by several improvised free-jazz-funk variations. "Noise is the Price We Pay for Signal" erupts with a clear reminiscence of Starless period Crimson, with the saxes and horns wandering in a firestorm of noisy dissonance, later joined by the guitars, while the drums and bass riff furiously behind it all - this may well be the album's most challenging track, as things only seem to come together briefly near the end. "Summer Walk" is another exception, perhaps the track that best exemplifies the neo-classical influences here. All taken, this is an outstanding release that I'm sure many would enjoy, one which will certainly be among my top ten picks for 1994.
Related artist(s): Virgil Moorefield
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more
Joel Vandroogenbroeck RIP – Word has reached us of the death of Joel Vandroogenbroeck, best known as one of the founders of Brainticket, He also recorded electronic music under a variety of names. He was born August 25th, 1938 in Brussels, Belgium and died December 23, 2019 in Arlesheim, Switzerland, aged 81. » Read more