Mark Whitecage

Ducks on Acid

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You sense from the title that this is going to be different, and it is: A solo album that in lesser hands might mean some tedious moments but under Mark Whitecage's tutelage leads to the twisting, overdubbing, and squeezing of sounds through self-designed "electronic gizmos" in what Whitecage describes as "not a state-of-the-art-recording," a fact that many listeners would not have otherwise realized. Whitecage, of course, has made a small but significant name for himself through the years as a leading practitioner of what is loosely called free jazz. Here, though, he goes beyond earlier efforts with a controversial self-described hallucinatory distortion of clarinet-filtered electronics. (The sax is only played on a couple of tracks.) The performance is at once primitive and pure, with disassociated roots and contorted assemblages of mashed sound. Highly original, Whitecage continues to build on the sparks of creative innovation that have always marked his improvisations. Some of the weirder tracks, such as the spiraling vocals of "DD's Acid Trip" or the cut-up "Pong," are eerily disturbing, but that is what makes Whitecage so interesting -- he never rests on past accomplishments. If displaced notes, electronically altered timbres, and a slow, yet deliberate articulation sound appealing, then Ducks on Acid should do the trick. It is an artist the caliber of Whitecage who can take chances and live on the edge while discarding the safety net; Whitecage rarely looks back, and he continues to be one of the prime innovators at the start of the 21st century.

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