Early in its life, the Milwaukee-based record label Crouton revealed itself as a provider of very original albums/art objects. Music and packaging are inseparable in the mind of owner Jon Mueller (of Pele and Telecognac), to whose name this third release is credited. Pianobread is a hand-letterpressed box containing a CD and a 48-page book. Mueller wrote a powerful short novel about a person addicted to "pianobread," which is a loaf of bread containing a hallucinogenic drug and small chunks of people (yes, cannibalism). The music on the accompanying CD deserves a better fate than a reading background role. Mueller is featured on drums on only six of the 15 untitled tracks. He contributes to intense free jazz jams with bassist Dave Gelting, samplist John McCoy, and multi-instrumentalist Jason Wietlispach. At various moments, the latter plays reeds, guitar, accordion, harmonica, and even turntables. Surrounding the six longer free jazz pieces are short textural tracks. Three are provided by guitarist Chris Rosenau, a few by Wietlispach, and a couple more by vocalist Rebecca Gray. Highlights include the captivating first track (which includes quirky sample/turntable work), the more standard free jazz trio on track four, John McCoy's atmospheric tape piece on track six, and Rosenau's delicate multi-tracked solo pieces. Musically speaking, Pianobread is a mixed-bag case, but the quality of the story and packaging make up for the few weaker moments. This album was released in a limited edition of 500 numbered copies. Highly collectable.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture