Gang Wizard


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Consisting of ten untitled tracks recorded at venues in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, the simply but accurately titled Live captures the noise-mania madness that is Gang Wizard, three minds acting as one flailing, extremely ill-tempered body. Perhaps an overstatement (the actual members themselves are all great people), but when they decide to get together and play, they not only make loud, scrabbling feedback and barely understandable vocals fun again, they take everyone on their trip with them no matter how pissed off it all sounds. The guitar/drums/organ lineup leaves no room for low-end groove per se -- the percussion tends toward the steady and blasting -- but plenty for disorienting mess. The Dead C is the obvious comparison point, but Gang Wizard is less murky (for all this release's sometimes muddy recording quality) and just a little more frenetic. Still, there's the same sense of taking some of rock & roll's tropes -- dig the loping strut that fully kicks in halfway through the second song, which one can almost shake their hips to here and there -- and then abusing and beating the hell out of them. The eighth song is another good example, a sprightly enough initial lead melody suddenly swamped by electric squalls and even more incoherent vocals than usual. The one cut from San Diego is just nuts, sounding a bit like an acid folk jam courtesy of Amon Duul, only spiked with more feedback than the world can comfortably tolerate. There's similar such pounding on the San Francisco tracks -- the fifth song has a definite Can tinge to its rhythms -- and the sheer exuberant mayhem of the band at all three dates makes this a worthy release.