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På skive


«Saint Vitus Dance»

The collaboration of the Norwegian experimental rock MoE –  bassist-vocalist Guro Skumsnes Moe and guitarist Håvard Skaset- with British punk band Bruxa Maria began in a joint tour of the two bands in the United Kingdom in 2019. During this tour MoE and My Bloody Valentine’s bassist, Deb Googe recorded two tracks to beat poet Anne Waldman’s Schiamazy (Fast Speaking Music, 2020). Right after this session, Moe played with New York-based sax player-drummer Devin Waldman (Anne Waldman is his aunt) at the London festival Raw Power. On their only day off in the joint tour, the two bands recorded Skinwalker with Devin Waldman at First Avenue Studios in Newcastle in May 2019.

Skinwalker is inspired by the Native American legend about the harmful witch who has the ability to disguise themselves as an animal. It is a four-part, slow and epic, improvised doom piece, that dares to explore unchartered territories for both bands, from meditative and sensual jazz vibe, free jazz sax honks, kraut minimalist yet unsettling drones to the more familiar, noisy and sludgy, grinding and merciless cacophony. But like the Skinwalker, this album allows both bands to shapeshift into an ad-hoc group sound and become something completely new altogether. Skaset edited the music and Bruxa Maria’s guitarist-vocalist Gee Dread and bassist Dave Cochrane made the artwork.

Saint Vitus Dance takes MoE into nastier, deafening and apocalyptic regions. Think of young Peter Brötzmann jamming with the American punk-metal band Neurosis but paying respects to Morphine’s mysterious singer-songwriter Mark Sandman, an early influence on Skumsnes Moe.

MoE met the Mexican Escalante family – Oscar, a painter, poet, instrument builder, multi-instrumentalist, inventor and musician, and a respected musician on the free-form scene in Mexico since the sixties, and his sons – innovative «noise» saxophonist Martin Escalante and film director Amat Escalante – on their first tour of Mexico in 2013. Since then MoE continued to collaborate with the Escalante family whenever the tours made it possible. Saint Vitus Dance features Oscar Escalante, Martin Escalante and sax player-drummer Waldman. The album was recorded at Testa Estudio (designed after Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio in Chicago) in León, Mexico, just weeks before the Covid-19 outbreak.

The raw, minimalist and brutal bass and guitar riffs of Skumsnes Moe and Skaset keep colliding with the primal and uncompromising, wailing and growling saxes and bagpipes of the Esclantes and Waldman, and suggesting anarchist, grinding dynamics, and the chants of Skumsnes Moe’s witch-like chants intensify the dark atmosphere. Oscar Easclante’s gibberish vocals contrabass bagpipes drones on on «Bagpipes of Guanajuato» sound as anticipating the dark days of Covid-19 lockdowns. The noisy meltdown of «The Sandman» is Skumsnes Moe’s tribute to the late Mark Sandman. The spirit of Saint Vitus Dance is captured in Oscar Easclante’s poetry: «Time does not exist as a movement neither before nor after” and “The beasts growling / The last call of the innocence / Teluric voices in ears of cloak / All in the eye of creation».

Eyal Hareuveni 

Gill Dread (g, v), Dave Cochrane (b), Paul Antony (dr, v), Robbie Judkins (elec), Guro Skumsnes Moe (b, v), Håvard Skaset (g), Devin Brajha Waldman (s, dr), Oscar Escalante (v, bs, contrabass bagpipes, bagpipes), Martin Escalante (as)

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