Jamie Saft Organ, Keys
Joe Morris Electric Guitar
Trevor Dunn Electric Bass
BALAZS PANDI Drums
ABOUT THE LABEL - Rare Noise Records was founded in late 2008 by two Italians, guitarist/arranger/producer Eraldo Bernocchi and all-round music nut Giacomo Bruzzo. Located in London, the label was created to present a platform to musicians and listeners alike who think beyond musical boundaries of genre.
With an audacious, uncompromising spirit, Slobber Pup wails with impunity on its savagely fierce, purely improvised Rare Noise Records debut, Black Aces. An all-star aggregation masterminded by in-demand keyboardist Jamie Saft (New Zion Trio, Bad Brains, Beastie Boys, Metallic Taste of Blood, Merzbow, as well as numerous projects with John Zorn including Electric Masada and The Dreamers), Slobber Pup brings together the disparate talents of electric bassist Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, The Melvins, Fantomas, Tomahawk, and several John Zorn projects including Electric Masada, The Dreamers and Moonchild), guitarist Joe Morris (a free jazz icon whose discography numbers over 100 albums as a leader/co-leader over the past 30 years) and Hungarian hardcore drummer Balazs Pandi (Obake, Metallic Taste of Blood, Merzbow, Otto Von Shirach, Venetian Snares).
Saft explains that Slobber Pup, named partly for his pet Mastiff, is a reunion of sorts for him and Morris. “I've known Joe for over 20 years. We made music together in the early ʻ90s in Boston when I was finishing up as a student at New England Conservatory. Joe was a local avant legend and I was extremely fortunate to get to work with him back then. We indeed lost touch for almost 20 years and reconnected at some festivals recently and started brainstorming.”
Their first collaboration together after a two decade long hiatus was in The Spanish Donkey, featuring drummer Mike Pride. In 2011, they recorded XYX on the Northern Spy label and followed up with a triumphant performance at the Victoriaville Festival, Canadaʼs premier avant-garde festival. “I've always thought Joe's guitar playing was wholly original and I wanted to tryand feature that in some different, more aggressive contexts,” explains Saft. “I thought metal, hardcore and grindcore styles as a rhythmic underpinning to micro-tonal avant blues-rock would feature Joe's guitar beautifully.”
They take it to the next level on Black Aces, which is fueled by the raging hardcore drumming of Saftʼs Metallic Taste of Blood band mate, the Budapest-based Balazs Pandi. Says Dunn of the ferocious drummer, “Balazs is an avid grindcore and metal aficionado but he also improvises, and that is a rare breed —someone who can play hard and fast, play blast beats but also have the sensitivity to react and be unpredictable; direct and/or accompany improvisations. Most guys who play metal can't get out of the square auto-pilot zone, which makes Balazs the exception.”
Saft and Dunn have had a longstanding working relationship, which includes several John Zorn projects for the Tzadik label. Dunn also appeared on Saftʼs Jewish metal album, Black Shabbis, on Tzadikʼs Radical Jewish Culture Series. Dunn and Morris met for the first time on the session. Dunn and Pandi had met the previous year when the bassist subbed on an Obake gig. As Saft points out, everything on Black Aces was completely improvised in the studio. “No element was predetermined. Joe and I connect on many levels as improvisers. I was a dedicated student of Joe Maneri's in Boston back in the day and learned from him about the concept of ʻsnake time.ʼ Joe calls it ʻglacial time feel.ʼ Essentially, it's a space in which time is felt and understood by all the players but does not need to be stated overtly. Everyone is experiencing pulse but the obvious modes of marking it are subverted and the focus goes to the larger arc of the music. It's a non-detail oriented approach to improvising where form reveals itself. Most free music is mired in experiencing each small moment. Our music goes to a much broader sense of form and exposition. And similar to our approach to form, our approach to pitch and temperament is fluid and always shifting.”
Recorded in Saftʼs Potterville International Sound studio in the beautiful Catskill mountains, Black Aces opens with a free-blowing manifesto as intense as anything heard since the subversive days of Last Exit (the bombastic supergroup from the ʻ80s featuring Bill Laswell, Sonny Sharrock, Peter Brotzman and Ronald Shannon Jackson). An intoxicating invocation that escalates in intensity over the course of its 27 minutes, “Accuser” kicks off the collection in tumultuous fashion. Paced by Pandiʼs ferocious drumming and Dunnʼs throbbing fuzz bass lines and fleshed out by Saftʼs droning organ lines, it features some of Morrisʼ most aggressive machine-gun picking on his ax, fed through a Marshall full stack, over the pulsating undercurrent. Morris unleashes with warm distorted tones over Dunnʼs powerhouse basslines on the brief but potent “Basalt” before the ensemble settles into collective sonic maelstrom on the remarkable assault, “Black Aces.” “Suffrage,” a mid-tempo funk vehicle with some allusions to form and discernable chord changes, features some of Morrisʼ most melodic playing on the record. And the collection closes as intensely as it opened with the tumultuous “Taint of Satan,” another mind-blowing manifesto that has Morris delivering shriekback, echo-laden lines with uncanny abandon.
Morris says that Saft did an exceptional job producing Black Aces. “He's the master of assembly and of letting the overall vibe he brings to these things formulate the rest of it. Heʼs such a positive and focused way of producing that all we have to do is play. And we play long, long takes. I would never think of any of it as a jam, though. We have a very clear objective and that is never a casual thing. We all pushed past any obvious material. We didn't try to duplicate any other kind of music. We were pushing it to make all of it ours.”
“I think the four members of Slobber Pup have such strong musical identities that we were able to subvert all categories and get at a fundamentally ʻnewʼ music,” says Saft. “Featuring Joe in a darker, ʻmetalʼ context, for me, was a perfect opportunity to connect the worlds of metal music, avant, microtones, and true forward improvisation. I'm extremely proud of this release- absolutely groundbreaking as far as I'm concerned. This is truly ʻnewʼ music.”
Adds Morris of Slobber Pupʼs earth-shattering debut, “Itʼs time for this!”