Prodigal

Massimo Pupillo / Alexandre Babel / Caspar Brötzmann
Live at Candy Bomber Studios, Vol. 1
GERMANY KARLRECORDS KR 038 LP (2017)

While hardly on the scale of disappearing acts like the Manic Street Preachers’ Richie Edwards or, on a more extreme kidnapped-by-the-aliens level, Licorice McKenzie of the Incredible String Band, the glaring absence of Herr Brötzmann’s guitar from the recording studio comes as a head-scratching puzzle for certain. After a purple patch with the Massaker and collaborations with F. M. Einheit, Page Hamilton and Brötzmann senior…nothing. In fact, ever since the release of the “Mute Massaker” double set, tha big fat nada has been going on for over nineteen years. Until now that is. And it’s pretty gratifying to report the involvement of someone whom Thurston Moore said was one of the best guitarists he’d ever met. 1 So after a long time away from the decks, a refresher course in Merry Christmas and the mighty Koksofen album was surely in order. And I definitely know why I initially grabbed anything bearing the C.B. coat of arms.

A can-opener guitar tone gnawing its way through aluminium sheeting? Affirmative. A rough-edged/powerful clatter ‘n’ throb emanating from the engine room below? Affirmative. In the intervening years, Danny Arnold Lommen and Eduardo Delgardo-Lopez (brother of the D.A.F. vocalist), have drifted, no doubt in search of more regular work. But a savvy exercise in headhunting, or perhaps a serendipitous meeting of the minds at the water cooler…has resulted in Alexandre Babel (also of Sudden Infant) and Massimo Pupllo (also of Zu and numerous collaborations) joining on drums and bass-mangling duties respectively. And I’m pleased to report it certainly is business as per, as ‘that sound’, set loose on a limited five hundred copies only platter is still in evidence over “Teer” and “Wagner”. This pair of epic constructs find our trio with twelve-yard stare and firmness of jaw, forging a path through dense improv vegetation, threatening black drone clusters and mountainous noise riffiage, in which a dash of Dead C’s beautiful chaos meets Hendrixed dying swan sustain and Retribution era Clark-Hutchinson high-end neurosis.

Max heaviosity attained. Pretenders to this particular throne lie scattered like matchwood. Bravo!

  1. As it’s the usual policy to find the guitarist receiving toppermost billing (see Beck, Bogart & Appice and West, Bruce & Laing as aged denizens of this strictly ordered guitar/bass/drums world), it’s strange to see Caspar bringing up the rear. Now does this suggest deference to the other two members, who perhaps cooked up this project, or is it humility in thinking that an absence over time has reduced his reputation? Hmmm. Meanwhile, the promo sheet is keeping tight-lipped over such matters.

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