Jeff Kaiser & Woody Aplanalp / Jeff Kaiser

Jeff Kaiser & Woody Aplanalp

Asphalt Buddhas


Jeff Kaiser

Ganz Andere


These two CDs come courtesy of the fine Ventura, California label pfMENTUM Records, one devoted to the “creative music” scene within their locale. But what is creative music? If I wanted to be facetious, I’d say all music was creative music; sounds do not organize themselves onto magnetic tape by themselves. Even with field recordings, someone had to make the decision of where the recording device will be placed. But I don’t want to be facetious, even though I inadvertently already have been. With regard to these two CDs, creative music is innovative music, often grounded within the improvisatory jazz or modern composition schools of sound creation.

Asphalt Buddhas is the name of both a photographic series by Jeff Overlie and a duo of guitarist Woody Aplanalp and trumpet/flugelhorn/coronet/valve trombone/electronic player Jeff Kaiser. Kaiser is the owner of the label and the thread that ties these releases together. Asphalt Buddhas is the more discordant of the two. There are moments on this record, namely “Recombinant Absolutions” and “Words of Jesus in Red,” where it would seem like the musicians are committed to making the most chaotic and discordant mess, were it not for the beautiful playing later on in the track. Electronics play a large part on both CDs, alternately providing a sound bed for the instruments, and direct processing of them. Occasionally, the electronics take upon a glichy feel, reminiscent of the artists associated with the Mego and Touch labels.

Ganz Andere , while more subdued than Asphalt Buddhas , sacrifices none of the intensity of the first, nor its attention to detail. It features Vinny Golia, a (deep breath) piccolo/Chinese membrane flute/Bb clarinet/contra-alto clarinet/tenor sax player. The electronics are more prominent on Ganz Andere , sometimes a bed of sound for the instruments, sometimes interplaying with them. There are 5 singly electronic pieces on Ganz Andere , compared to two on Asphalt Buddhas . “Moral Geometry I” has a repeated trumpet motif which is complimented by racing piccolo lines and soft electronics. Similar is “Yellow Light Surrounding Shadow Outline of Large Man,” with its lyrical flute over lurching electronics. Of the two, I feel that this is the stronger, mainly due to it’s sharper contrasts between melodic and dissonant and stronger electronic work. Both are beautifully packaged in a unique tri-fold cardboard sleeve, with quotes running across the flap the CD, and bound with a cord of twine.

I think CDs like these are truly bridging the gap between the different sorts of “marginalized” music out there. There are parts of these albums that would appeal to the traditionally jazz minded, while other parts would turn the ear of the most ardent noise fiend. Kids that listen to electronic dance music are buying Merzbow CDs because of Akita’s collaborations on the Mego label, and vice versa for noiseheads. V/VM are sonic terrorism reminiscent of Throbbing Gristle, yet their records are bought largely by the electronic dance crowd. John Zorn’s Naked City project brought jazzers to metal. There is a lot of cross-pollinating going on in the “creative music” circles these days, and the entire scene is the better for it.

pfMENTUM, P.O. Box 1653, Ventura, CA 93002; pfMENTUM

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