Silber Media, 2014
So, I was sitting in my big, Jacuzzi-outfitted bathtub, soaking in hot water and I put on this new album by Rollerball, Bathing Music. It was quite ethereal. It really took me away, the way you hear women plaintively cry “Calgon, Take Me Away”, in ads. But this was no fruity bath pebbles, this was avant-garde, jazz-infused, beat-heavy, bubbling, juicy spice.
Yes, that’s the essence of Bathing Music, a studio-as-instrument-recorded album, utilizing many colors, shimmering through the soundscapes within each tune. The album starts out with “Cockfighter”, a weird, sort of starting point in which you hear voices; you can hear them talking about ‘mules’ and there are other things being bandied about which are less audible, underneath a cacophony of avant-garde swishing.
“Wyoming” starts out of the ashes of “DJ Tecate”, itself, a menagerie of noise, drone and sculpted sounds that build up to a wild neap of beige noise, then suddenly, it stops on a dime and it goes right into “Wyoming”, a quiet, start: a lone piano plays out a series of melodies, really chill-out, then vocals come in about 2 ½ or so minutes, bringing in a muted beat that evokes pictures of this avant-garde, drone-jazz-noise band in a barn somewhere in the country; a lonesome sort of picture. Next, “The Knocker” goes someplace totally different. It begins with percussion that links together electronic and exotic drumming, with a bass playing in a slap-string kind of way, Steve Albini comes to mind when I hear that bass. “The Knockers”, in the instant it follows “Wyoming”, takes you, the listener, out of the sparse countryside of Wyoming to a night scene in some large, urban setting, either flying overhead, above the choking peasants and traffic or off to a high mountain side, from where you can watch as the city goes about its typical evening rituals. “Wet Food Twice a Day”, up to where singer starts singing, actually sounds like an Astor Piazolla song, sans the bandoleon, which, in its place is an oboe or bassoon and a piano. But that tango beat prevails, which is what really evokes the Piazolla-sound.
I guess what I’m getting at is that there is a delicious variety of songs on Bathing Music. I hate to keep having to inject the idea of “jazz” into some of these albums by bands who one wouldn’t think of as being at all jazz. But when it then gets to “Moundbuilders”, I really can’t help it, what with that familiar sounding trumpet and an accompanying horn, supplying a cacophonous sort of sidecar. What I’m trying to say, is that hearing that lonely, but clear trumpet sounds like Miles Davis’s ghost, come back to haunt these cats who’ve, somehow, called up the spirits of jazz, in various forms: avant-garde, weirded-out jazz, the Miles horn sound, and a little bit of John Zorn not to mention the syncopation.
But where it starts to part company with the jazz that hands out of it, there’s a spooky kind of vapor that’s hanging around in the background, to give the air an ominous sort of feel to it.
Since I plucked off the most recent batch of albums from Silber Media, I happened to pick, just by pure chance, about 4-5 albums’ worth of stuff that, as I’ve listened to them, over the course of the past couple of weeks, I keep coming back to one particular thing that turns out to have some sort of hipster connection to the masses of jazzbos out there: a particular way the drums are played, a tinkling of the keys of a piano, a bassline, et cetera. This is another one that has captivated my ears and my mind so much that I have to double check to see when it is that it came out, since I have noticed that a few of the recent finds I’ve made on Silber Media are re-releases of albums that came out anywhere from the late 90s to the last decade. So, in that sense, I can only say they are, for sure, new to me. The reason being, is that, since I like Bathing Music so much that I’d like to include it in my year-end, best of list, which will come out in late December.
But, if you’re reading up on reviews, trying to decide whether this stuff is for you or not and you don’t happen to be a big jazz fan (or you don’t particularly like jazz at all), well, don’t let that stop you from checking these albums out. Then again, if you’re a big Britney Spears fan or a KISS fan, you probably wouldn’t like this album either.
Just take it from me –Bathing Music is a relaxing, slick, box of cars. -KM.