ep1str0phy

AOTW-Aug 27-Sept 2

15 posts in this topic

It's always fun when so-called "landmark" recordings--our canonized stuff--wind up on the AOTW block. We're brought to air--in passionate, occasionally violent fashion--some of the longstanding predilections, prejudices, and, oftentimes, commonalities--I mean, however far out or in you listen, it's nice to know and hear so many people coming to the same place. Even if we can't agree, we can get together, right?

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Machine Gun, in spite of it all, remains obstinately, perfectly divisive. Perhaps it's because Brotzmann's early work is too difficult to place; it's far too ragged, histrionic, and, well, early to fall in line with the bulk of Euro free improvisation and, at the same time, quite a bit more rough and nihilistic than what the later breed of free jazz players (even, arguably, the Energy cats--although Brotz would find a kindred spirit in Frank Wright, who was as spiritual as any of the later free jazz guys) were waxing in the States. This isn't just a secular, 'ecumenical free jazz'--the music of the far more sensitive, cerebral AACM inhabits that appellation to a far more suitable degree (replete as it is with spiritual, if not religious, overtones)--it's downright atheistic--brutal, scatological, and, at times, almost comically so. Once you get past the pulse of the skronk and the hot, hot, hot, recording quality, Machine Gun is actually quite fun.

Maybe that's Brotzmann's contribution to the New Thing mythology: surrendering the God, philosophy, and revolutionary, militaristic phraseology of earlier free jazz in favor of a decisively unenlightened--if unpretentious--aesthetic. Yeah, it's called Machine Gun, but only the sounds are violent--this is, at root, a more final liberation, where thoughts as well as sounds yield to ecstasy... for all of Brotzmann's braggadocio and sledgehammer-subtle discourse, it really does come down to sound. This is Europe to America's Sound (the Roscoe album), anyway.

So where are we on this one?

Edited by ep1str0phy

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Strong, strong LP though I have to admit a preference for Nipples. Brotzmann and Wright actually played a lot together in the '70s - Brotz augmented the Center of the World Quartet for some shows, in fact.

And Buschi is such an underrated bassist; he and Peter K shine on this...

I'll have to give my FMP vinyl of this'n a spin later today (wish I had the original BRO-2!) and post more concrete thoughts, though as dense a recording as Machine Gun is, it's totally imbued with the dadaist wiping-away that these guys were known for. The levity comes, of course, in that school marching band R&B riff at the end of side 1. Beautiful stuff!

Thanks for bringing this one up!

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I tried to listen to this cd maybe about a year ago and I gave up after the first 10 minutes.I got a splitting headache.

I'll try it again very soon.

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I have to admit, I wasn't entirely taken with Machine Gun on first listen--it is a 'splitting headache' sort of side, and it takes a little commitment (and probably a little aesthetic soul-searching) to really get too much from it (sonically).

Oh yeah--and I love that marching band theme. Second the enthusiasm for Nipples, although it never had the same sort of effect on me (that nerve grinding thing).

Thanks for contributing, guys--I thought Brotz was going to die a quick death here.

Edited by ep1str0phy

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The CD tranfert (of poor recording material) is terrible.

This one should only be listenning in the LP format.

Aniway, one of the great album of my youth when I discovered it (around 1972).

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Must admit to having bought this but after a couple of years passing it on.

Admire the energy and commitment of this, and its a ground breaking, scene defining moment I'm sure (though I'm of the opinion that a lot of the documentation of the free scene is more important as documentary evidence than music to be re-listened to too much).

I tend to like the idea of this (and things like it) more than the reality and it often sends me scuttelling back to my Ellington and Bill Evans albums...

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I tend to like the idea of this (and things like it) more than the reality and it often sends me scuttelling back to my Ellington and Bill Evans albums...

My feelings exactly!

I bought this when it came out in the late 60s plus the earlier LP 'For Adolphe Sax'. I happened to be visiting the 'Mole Jazz' Record Shop in London, Kings Cross when Peter Brotzmann arrived with boxload of LPs for sale and in a moment of weakness I bought both of them!

Whilst it did cause a great stir when I played it later at home at maximum volume, I hardly ever managed to listen to it for more than a few minutes before giving up. Whilst I can appreciate the energy that must have gone into making it, I am afraid that this doesn't help make it a good 'listening experience'.

However I kept both LPs for many years and then sold them back to 'Mole Jazz' about ten years ago.

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After finally having enough time to sit down and blast both sides of the fuckin' thing, I'd forgotten (it's been a few years) how incredibly awesome this record is. The first side is hip, for sure, and for me did get the most play in the past, but what was really getting under my skin was side two - especially "Responsible," which has a nice kwela groove (cf. "Fat Man Walks," on More Nipples) between Van Hove's piano and Bennink on bongos. There aren't too many examples in the early years of Brotzmann's groove; he hit his stride with the Miller/Moholo team in the late '70s, and then again with Parker and Drake (admit I prefer the former). Bennink also gets some chance to stretch his bebop swing on "Music for Han Bennink," and contributes some great playing in the first 1/3 of the tune.

The recording is excellent for this type of music. It's extremely dense when it needs to be, but when they let up, the grit is actually very nuanced. You can hear the horsehairs and rosin up against the bass strings, for example.

I think that between this, Nipples, European Echoes, and The Topography of the Lungs, you really have a great canvas of what was happening in West European jazz at the turn of the '70s, a crucial time for this music. It is its own, and it is of a piece.

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To whom you can add, KARYOBIN (SME), THE BAPTISED TRAVELLER (TONY OXLEY QUINTET) and ALORS!!! (PORTAL, SURMAN, PHILLIPS, MARTIN) to have a complete picture of this crucial time

Edited by P.L.M

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I'm fairly convinced that this is one of those 'high wall' albums that it's sometimes just too difficult to scale. Even if the following statement does sound terrifically elitist and maybe a little condescending (that's certainly not the intent), it takes commitment to appreciate Machine Gun. Once you can get past the mass of sound up top--and the unmitigated heaviness is sorta frontloaded on these cuts--there's a lot of fun, humor, and joy. It may be best to buy this one, listen, take a deep breath, and then come back. As in CT's case, coming back to it after some time certainly takes off a bit of the edge. What's left is a very, very fine Euro free jazz/improv record.

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It’s the fun, humour and joy that has always appealed to me in this album. Listening to early Brotzmann (come to think of it, any Brotzmann) can be a bludgeoning experience. While Ayler was about “Spirits” and “Spiritual Unity,” Brotzmann gave us “Machine Gun.” But this one has its rewards.

I love the juxtaposition of more traditional grooves with the rounds of noise the three saxophonists blast out.

Pianist Fred van Hove helps set this one apart. Piano wasn’t always integrated particularly well in the early free blowouts of the mid-1960s (loads of exceptions, though), but van Hove has a place in the music.

A classic.

There’s a live version of “Machine Gun” with Gerd Dudek added on sax which appears on the excellent “Fuck de Boere” on Atavistic.

This thread also prompted me to relisten to “Nipples.” Another classic.

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To whom you can add, KARYOBIN (SME), THE BAPTISED TRAVELLER (TONY OXLEY QUINTET) and ALORS!!! (PORTAL, SURMAN, PHILLIPS, MARTIN) to have a complete picture of this crucial time

Point taken.

You can also add Heartplants, Tusques' Free Jazz, Gunnar Lindquist's GL Unit, The Pierre Favre Quartett (Wergo), Schoof's Voices and anything else recorded 1966-1971, but whatever.

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To whom you can add, KARYOBIN (SME), THE BAPTISED TRAVELLER (TONY OXLEY QUINTET) and ALORS!!! (PORTAL, SURMAN, PHILLIPS, MARTIN) to have a complete picture of this crucial time

Point taken.

You can also add Heartplants, Tusques' Free Jazz, Gunnar Lindquist's GL Unit, The Pierre Favre Quartett (Wergo), Schoof's Voices and anything else recorded 1966-1971, but whatever.

What's the problem, here?

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The futility of name-checking...

Well, seems that you start the game yourself.

Had a bad day today?

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