David Moss Dense Band

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David Moss is crazy, but I love him. There are many intellectual statements that can be made to create an apologia for this music of his, but none is necessary. Thankfully there is precious little of that. Moss is that rare avant-gardist: He has no need to be militant, nor does he need to justify what he does as somehow relevant. Basically, he doesn't give a sh*t what anybody thinks and that's good because his brand of vanguard exploration even makes some avant fans squeamish. Here's the deal: Moss claims that the Dense Band was created after he asked Fred Frith to produce a record that would frame his music in terms of songs. There have been countless avant heavies through its ranks, but this edition, in 1994, included John King on guitar, Anthony Coleman on keyboards, Jean Chaine on bass, and Moss playing drums, electronics, and, of course, "singing." To call these 15 selections "songs" in the Western, verse/refrain/verse/bridge/refrain sense would be absurd, as this is, in some sense, absurdist music. But make no mistake, these pieces are indeed songs. They feature repetitive sounds and textures, are turned around by a certain sense of rhythm and timing, and are colored in such a way that some of them are actually -- not "almost" as he states in his liner notes -- danceable. The obvious fractured funk of "A Dot, a Line" is most reminiscent, but even the more expansive and fractionally abstract pieces such as "Outrigger," "Double Broke Back Blues," "What Happens With Thunder," "Botticelli Niblets," and "Society of Niches" have their own ambience and structure that is recognizable and even memorable. There is an unaccredited and hilariously weird cover of the old Tom Jones standard "Delilah," and the most beautiful piece on the record, "Invisible Cities," uses fragments from the Italian writer Italo Calvino to carve a structure from the structure of sound vibration itself.

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