Innovation, Independence, Determination

Got a couple of new cassettes from Bryan Day’s label the Eh? Aural Repository, sent from his California address. Below is one of them…

Orasique are a quartet based in Mexico just now, although their members are from all over – sax player Don Malfon is from Spain, Misha Marks from New Zealand, drummer Fernando Barrios from El Salvador, and Marco Albert is from Italy. They’re described as a “free-improv quartet”, but this genre label doesn’t adequately contain the unhinged noises on this release Ixtlahuaca (EH? 119). For one thing we’ve got the very weird sound – the combination of these four players exceeds the boundaries, more than once, of what might be considered “polite and restrained” modes of playing in the free-improv mode, especially among those musicians who like to live under a veneer of “respectfulness”. Instead, anything-goes is not only the rule of thumb for the recording session, but (I’d like to think) is a philosophy they all live by, and this raucous behaviour extends out into the street and the restaurant where they went afterwards to order lunch (the cafe owner there is currently recovering in an asylum). Only the saxophone of Malfon clues us in to any kind of jazz-related exploits, and even here his blurtish yawps would be more suited to an all-nighter with Hijokaidan or Incapacitants.

Second secret weapon is Marks from Aotearoa, who’s been putting down roots in Mexico City since 2008 (and has grown into a deadly plant emitting vapours that destroy all normals within 50 feet radius); his chosen weapon is his trusty “latarra”, a home-made guitar which he built from an old first-aid box (how??!). He, I guess, is responsible in this foursome for smashing the air with his noise-rock inflected swipes and violent stabs. Thoroughly approve we do. As for vocalist Marco Albert, we were knocked sideways by his bizarre Mutations record for this label in 2020, but here he seems intent on going even further if anything, and runs a gamut of styles and extreme vocal approaches, more like a crazed actor rehearsing movie-monster roles than a conventional musician. Bashing metal and skins Barrios is not merely a sideman or rhythm section, but an integral part of the semi-ugly sound as he scrapes and skitters, and a big part of propelling the inchoate energy-push that these four achieve as surely as a giant ogre stomping across waste-ground in pursuit of his quarry.

Lest I seem to keen to characterise these four geniuses as primitive, untutored “wild men” of improv, you need only peruse their respective histories to learn they have performed with many great musicians and bands across the world, and are clearly respected in this and many other genres. The cover art may look plain and unprepossessing, but this is a truly demented, overheated item of absurdist, abrasive joy. From 13th December 2021.