Blood Shadow Rampage
ith the vigorous tag team nature of underground music at the moment, it seems to be only a matter of time before your dream team meets up to jam. Before this set was recorded Jim O’Rourke and Thurston Moore had previously helmed Dream/Aktion Unit as a focused but revolving shared exploration. With O'Rourke now concentrating on film work, the Unit has become a whoever-whenever collective with Moore at its head. At this providential May 2005 gathering at Scotland’s Le Weekend festival he was joined by Chris Corsano, Paul Flaherty, Heather Leigh Murray, and Matt Heyner (No-Neck Blues Band).
More often than not these happenings can end up a badly recorded CD-R mush of ultra-thick noise. This is not the case with Blood Shadow Rampage: luckily the show went straight to twenty-four track. As such, individuals retain their trademark superpowers while still managing to swing like the Plane Crash Big Band.
It’s unlikely any of the players were regarding this show in a competitive sense, but if marks need handing out, Paul Flaherty (picture Robinson Crusoe on Saxophone) would take the top spot. Still at the pinnacle of his game, Flaherty’s ever-searching playing reaches from lone moonlit jazz silhouette to frenetic feverish explosions of higher-end runs. The sheer life force of the man’s playing rivets Teflon into every track, not through force of volume, but raw open-eyed genius. His familiarity with Corsano through their duo work (and with Moore, to a lesser extent) means that none of Blood Shadow Rampage is wasted in the hesitant feeling out of player’s styles.
Blood Shadow Rampage isn’t all extended explorations with Flaherty clearing the way though. The shortest track here, “Your Missing Foot,” barely begins to form before it sinks. The scrambling melodies that cover “Buried Alive and Loving It” seem like red hot bugs, whilst “Never Never Nightcrawler” plays with swooping drooling-for-carrion drones. At times it seems like Murray and Moore have reunited after a raging tête-à-tête, their strings still knotted together, pouring forth combined runny lava lamp sounds. Her pedal steel tones give some songs a sidereal smile, notes scything warmly through the music pushing it a step closer to the cracked looking glass. For those who only want a toe-dipping tip, the whirring “Tales of Entrails” comes like a fifty-foot python of sound, an elongated trunk of sonic muscle.
The album’s zombiefied titles and Karen Constance’s gory Hammer Horror artwork, a gorgeous painted gatefold, deserves mention—but only really sync up with the music once. Towards the end of opener “Birth of a Ghoul” the noise bubbles over like some huge unmanned cauldron, the organic mass heaving and crying like some agonized slop birth. The sickly grisly trail of sound is like stuff that gets stuck in the drain under autopsy tables. With a closing title like “Here Come the Fucking Dead,” it’s a safe bet that the album will end in an explosion. Flaherty and Corsano soon sync in, percussive automatic gunfire raining across the track; only Moore’s choppy treble sticks its head above the bunker.
Blood Shadow Rampage never really seeks the full slasher/gore assault of its title, but bull-headed noise frenzies are becoming overrated anyway. As a live album, this does its job more than admirably. This must’ve been a hell of a gig.
Reviewed by: Scott McKeating
Reviewed on: 2006-09-21