Low Res: Look Back With Knife
VA: 15 Exitos Grandes de Electro
Daniel Zelonky's productions under the Low Res and Crank monikers may not be sui generis but they certainly come close to sounding like nothing you've ever heard before. Impossible to pigeon-hole, the material might best be described as “supra-galaxial cyberspace jazz” (proving the point even further, in August 2007, under the title Sun Ra Impossible Space Circus, Zelonky collaborated with several Sun Ra Arkestra members in a live performance of Sun Ra compositions at the New York Knitting Factory). It's a hyper-agitated and mutating cauldron of dizzying sound (one track's even tellingly titled “Spasmo Cybo”) where moments of techno and jazz perpetually bob to the congealing music's surface. Two of the releases on Zelonky's new label collect riveting material he's produced over a number of years under the Crank, Low Res, Joey Mook, and Lester Pride aliases.
The hefty 15 Exitos Grandes de Electro is uniformly strong, with Crank material like “Jerk” elevating things to an even more unhinged plateau than the others. The pounding bass drum aside, Crank's “Infantile Narcosis” might be likened to a sonic portrait of a deranged soul viciously tearing at his body, attempting to remove imagined insects crawling beneath the skin. Like Joey Mook's “Askew,” Lester Pride's “Felatique” spills clavinet funkiness over a steamy, cyber-Afro-jazz pulse, while traces of Kraftwerk surface in “Nubians of Teutonia.” Some of the material could even pass for outtakes from Weather Report's Mr. Gone sessions (the slinky Joey Mook cut “Clams” is a close cousin to Pastorius's “River People”).
Without question, Look Back With Knife's opening live piece, “Low Resolution Truth,” where MC Non Genetic testifies over a free jazz-styled meltdown of organ, drums, and sax, is clearly the set's wildest moment. The collection, which comprises eleven pieces spanning a nine-year period (1994 to 2003) and includes unreleased, rare, and live tracks, is as mind-altering as 15 Exitos Grandes de Electro. Stylistic diversity abounds: “Struttin',” “Electonal Version,” and “Dirty Lamentable Scheme” dig into space-dub hip-hop grooves while “Lamb Baah” and “Pandementiavan” traffic in blustery jazz-funk and space-lounge respectively. The most ear-friendly piece is “Blue Ramen #1 (samba)” which features a female vocalist drifting through a melody reminiscent of both “ Moon River ” and “Goldfinger.”
If Joe Zawinul and Bootsy Collins were abducted by aliens, transported to Saturn, and commanded to instruct the planet's inhabitants in the fine art of jazz-funk, the results might sound much like the 23rd-century Weather Report-meets-James Brown space jazz that appears throughout the two releases.