A Blessing or a Curse (For the Good of Evil): an absurdist free jazz improv / noise punk ride

Zlurad, A Blessing or a Curse (For the Good of Evil), Russia, NoNames666, CD #731 (2019)

A wacky ride through improv jazz / noise punk, the musicians deliberately going out of their way to act and sound as retarded as they possibly can be, this recent album from Moscow’s Zlurad brings more than a few memories of John Zorn’s squealy Painkiller trio and some crazed Japanese noiseniks (The Boredoms for one) to this jaded listener. Zlurad toss in a lot of genres into their whirlwind blender and spit out a very bizarre result: hardcore, power rock, metal bass rhythms, pounding neo-primitiv punk, all lorded over by a set of crazed vocalisations, tumble out all at once in a way that might seem chaotic to most people but for me is actually very clear, even orderly. The band might put on an act of appearing dumb, dumber and dumberer but the music, heard a few times, has more and more the air of having been put together in quite a calculated way in spite of the improvised nature of the music.

The fun starts with a splat of a track called “Carousel” and from there descends merrily into free noise improv hell (or heaven, depending on your taste) in a blaze of sputtering sax, tootling trumpet, gabbled vocals and crashing percussion and blast-beats. The staccato trumpet melodies – well, not so much melodies as fragments of melodies – add that crazed edge to the general impression of the band not quite having all its psychological and mental baggage together. “Ogre King”, sounding Boredoms-like, is a much more structured song with definite punky melodies than the others. On the whole, short tracks can be a lot more noisy than the rest; they can also feature scads of black metal influence, at least in early parts of the music before the sideshow freak entertainment begins.

For me this veers between sheer silliness and maybe something more calculated, with a lot more depth than you’d think, as if behind the Dada-ist approach the musicians are suggesting an agenda that’s serious but with its tongue firmly planted in its cheek. Yes, the world is full of sadness, violence, injustice and things happening with no reason or logic to them – the only way to deal with such confusion and unfairness is to respond with crazed silliness and apparent cacophony.

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