Drumgasm, the free-form percussion monster collaboration between noted rock drummers Janet Weiss (Wild Flag, Quasi, Sleater-Kinney), Matt Cameron (Pearl Jam), and Zach Hill (Hella, Death Grips) is a consistent 40-minute piece made up of just three drum kits being played within inches of their destruction by these rhythm masters. The wandering improvisation holds all the intensity of several different types of difficult music; aggressive to the point of antagonism like the angrier sects of the noise scene, but not without the playfulness or emotional searching of spiritual jazz and other ensemble-styled free music albums. Recorded in a single pass, the original release of the album saw one piece split into two 20-minute sides for a vinyl-only release. Though it can be a dense affair at times, teetering on the edge of overwhelming, the noteless suite steers clear of several key problems that similar albums before it have made. While seemingly improvised and with an over-caffeinated feel to much of the playing (Zach Hill here, mostly, whose playing stands out as frenetic in contrast to Weiss' computer-like accuracy and Cameron's perpetual rolling feel) there's a high level of communication and listening happening between the players. Even in the more self-indulgent moments, it never devolves into anarchy, and much of the album maintains a sense of purpose and delivery. Segments of sturdy rhythm crop up intermittently between the free sections, almost always led by Weiss' sturdy, tribal pace-setting and augmented by Hill's busy bee fills and Cameron's polyrhythmic counter points. Drumgasm is a success for a concept that could have just been an exhaustingly showy display of chops on the part of the players. That said, the beauty of a 40-minute three-drummer improvisation will be lost on most listeners, and good luck putting this on at a party without immediate complaints. However, for drummers, students of percussion, or those open to hearing the implied melodies and tunes created by frantic waves of rhythm, this album will be a rare treat, and one that can continue to offer dividends that go well beyond your typical mid-concert drum solo and get to the heart of a very specific kind of expression.
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AllMusic Review by Rovi Staff