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Nash Kontroll - Your Left Hand Just Exploded

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Artist: Nash Kontroll

Album: Your Left Hand Just Exploded

Label: iDEAL

Review date: Jan. 31, 2006

The title suggests the imaginary requiem a drill sergeant gives for a hopeless recruit’s lost appendage after the latter has once again mishandled grenade-throwing practice. The recruit, stupefied and humbled, can only try to wrap his feeble imagination onto the messy mass of tendons evoked by his superior. This collaboration between Swedish reedsmen Mats Gustafsson and Dror Feiler and Norwegian noise maestro Lasse Marhaug will certainly leave you stupefied and dumbfounded, but the threat in this music is definitely not a priori. On Your Left Hand Just Exploded, the trio stalks you with a predatory patience, licking its lips with a king-of –the-beasts confidence. The ferocious, flesh-rending pounce you anticipate never comes. Instead the three just stroke your head with their massive paws, step on your tail and occasionally let you run free. You will not, however, escape.

The three tracks stretch for over fifty minutes, they get progressively longer and more focused, more minimal. Album opener “In the presence of fuckin God…We are all the same” is the shortest here, but also the most schizophrenic. The piece moves in jagged, staccato hunks. The stereo space gets cluttered with sprays of static, stuttering digital disturbance, prowling shreds of low end, strangulated sine waves, the density compressing the raw sonic resources into an unstable, underground mixture. The three are like newly mutated super-heroes (or villains if you wish), fresh from the accidental nuclear explosion, testing out their new powers.

They find their groove on the twenty-minute title bomb, as they now capture, hold and work their shapes over until they become diamond-hard structures. Feiler and Gustafsson’s horns eventually enter, and they attack Marhaug’s convulsions and distortions with thick, shear smears. The friction produces so much heat that soon the three voices are smelted into brief peaks of shrill harmony. A two-pronged clatter of mechanical chugging emerges halfway, and it shapes their extemporizations until they near the close, when Feiler and Gustafsson almost give way to actual melodies. But they don’t, and a hypnotic drone materializes then dissipates.

”Passport to Pork” begins with a before-the-storm rumble of thunder rolling across the mountains, and is soon joined by a near absurd sweep of woodwinds. The rumble morphs into a sleeping lion’s purring breath, a tactile growl, alive and electrical. The giant’s sleep is threatened by sudden jolts of radio static and a diabolical laughing scribble that teases one like the tick of a time bomb. It’s here that the three most clearly excel, as they play not with each other, but off each other and against each other – anything but polite dialogue. This is provocation. This is exhortation. This is the apocalyptic tension of the nuclear endgame played out in audio form.

This is not only one of the best noise records I’ve yet heard, it’s among the best improv and free jazz recordings, because it sits at the swirling vortex into which all three approaches implode, and Marhaug, Gustafsson and Feiler harness the fallout with absolute mastery - and because they probably don’t give a shit about such pea-brained pigeonholes in the first place.

By Matthew Wuethrich

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