Spring Heel Jack - Oddities
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Spring Heel Jack

With one release already out this year (their album Treader), Spring Heel Jack is already back again with another new EP of material. Actually, it's misleading to call it either new or an EP, as none of the tracks on the release are particularly brand new, and at over 52 minutes in length, the disc is hardly an EP length.

Those that have listened to the group before know that although they're primarily a mad concoction of drum and bass and avant jazz, they've also been a lot more apt to noodle around on their most recent releases. Not only have they done complete breakdowns and reconstructions of Sound Of Music songs, the group also pulled some more wiley moves on their most recent disc mentioned above. I will say that if you're expecting anything resembling drum and bass on this release, you'll walk away completely dissapointed. The group has dropped all of their schizo rhythms and instead gone the direction of the more experimental sounds they've been fiddling with as of late.

The first track "Root" is a composition that the group did for Thurston Moore's (Sonic Youth) remix project from 1999 and works like sort of an off-kilter lite taiko drum session with swells of orchestra noise behind it before blasts of feedback penetrate the mix and end it. Not even remotely more commercial is the very next track "The Road to the Western Lands." A minimal track with subdued horns and chimes, the track is a quiet accompaniment to a William Burroughs reading.

Less successful is the nearly 12-minute track of squiggling blips and noise called "Trouble." Sounding something like a DJ Spooky filler track, it plinks and plunks along for far too long. After the excellent, trippy dubbed instrumental cover of Spiritualized's "Shine A Light" comes two final experimental pieces in "2nd Piece for La Monte Young" and "Piece for Six Turntables - Version 4." The former is an interesting noise piece that sounds not unlike a stripped-down fuzzed-out Kronos Quartet track while the latter is an updated mix of classic composers that plays like a orchestra heard through the bustle of city streets.

Overall, the disc will definitely throw off some with its complete lack of beats or even rhythm, and the longer, droning pieces make bore some to tears. There is some interesting things to be found on the disc, though, if you like the stranger side of the group. It's a hit-or-miss affair, but does show promise for the group if they can just find a way to meld their two halves together.

rating: 510
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00