Black Gold 360: Black Gold 360

Amazingly, Simon Sixsmith, co-owner of the Dutch label Beluga, has made his debut album entirely free for download. However, the adage that nothing of value comes for free doesn't apply here as Black Gold 360 is a thoroughly worthwhile listen. The album's a jazz-oriented exercise in sample-based collage construction that's occasionally reminiscent of the work Jan Jelinek-Triosk and Andrew Pekler produced on their respective 1+3+1 and Nocturnes, False Dawns and Breakdowns releases though Sixsmith adopts a slightly more free-flowing style on the album's ten tracks. A perpetual flow of invention streams throughout the 50-minute set, with Sixsmith dusting off a cavalcade of early acoustic jazz samples for his constructions. Absorbing the material's late-night character, it's easy to visualize a rain-soaked Manhattan street populated by musicians relaxing outside the club's entrance enjoying a smoke between sets.

“Fuck Your Best Friend” is especially close to Jelinek's style. A repeating chord splashes throughout, establishing structure and imposing balance, while a mutating, surging flow of electronically manipulated piano, drums, and horns surfaces and disappears. In addition, a cacophonous storm howls through the raucous “Atlantic Conversation,” the slippery funkster “Bill & Jimmy” swings jubilantly, and “Humboldt's Gift” features real-time tenor sax bluster by one C. Kalderway. It's not always an easy listen, as noise opuses like “Feed the G” and “Theremin” show, but generally speaking there's no shortage of quality material on hand. And, incredibly, all free for the taking.

November 2006