David Moss

Full House

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The idea of doing "avant-garde" pop songs was very much in the air in downtown New York City in the early '80s. Witness bands like DNA, the first incarnation of the Golden Palominos, and John Zorn's Locus Solus project. Add David Moss' Dense Band to that list. The leader was primarily a drummer, though his strong second suit was a cartoonish, deep voice which, though it could be entertaining enough, over time had a tendency to veer into obnoxiousness. Here, he collaborates in 19 brief (all four minutes or less) duo performances with a number of luminaries from that scene, most of which appear to have been freely improvised. They range from pure noise to rock-tinged pieces to funk (the duo with bassist extraordinaire Jamaaladeen Tacuma being a highlight of the session, though the drum machine sounds painfully dated) and beyond. Moss obviously has a blast; his willingness to emote and then some is constantly on display. He yammers, croaks, chortles, burps, wheedles, and, generally, commits a variety of vocal sins. His natural ebullience often wins out against the desire to reach into the speakers and slap him; when it does, the result is good, playful fun of the avant-garde kind. Moss' drumming style is quick, light and full of clatter, eschewing standard rhythms, though never becoming entirely coloristic. On the best of these duets (with Tacuma, Fred Frith, and brother drummer Fred Maher), a satisfying mix is achieved which, by and large, causes the listener to overlook the many excesses elsewhere. Pop songs? Not quite, but an interesting attempt.

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