Evan Parker, Derek Bailey and Han Bennink
The Topography of the Lungs


1.0
awful

Review

by Adam Thomas STAFF
December 17th, 2008 | 67 replies


Release Date: 1970 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If there was ever an album deserving of a 0 it would be this.

I am now convinced that Free Jazz is home to both some of the best and worst albums in the history of music. The likes of Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, and Albert Ayler represent everything good to come out of the movement but on the other hand it also gave birth to performers like John Cage and Peter Brotzmann that make me want to disregard it in an instant. Even in the most challenging of pieces, like Brotzmann's Machine Gun, I've usually been able to at least find traces of enjoyable material... until now. Earlier this year I stumbled across the album The Topography of the Lungs by Evan Parker, Derek Bailey, and Han Bennink. Having spent the last six months trying to just listen to the damn thing has made me come to only one logical conclusion: The Topography of the Lungs is the worst piece of "music" I have ever heard.

Calling The Topography of the Lungs "music" is a misnomer and the sounds that are displayed on it are instantly headache inducing. To get a good grasp of just how awful it is, picture a group of toddlers with ADHD getting a hold of some instruments. One of the kids tries his hardest to create "something" on the guitar by aimlessly fretting the strings and picking frenetically. At the same time another child grabs a saxophone and blows into it in seemingly random time with the child playing guitar. And finally the third child bangs away on the drums in what sounds like Animal from the Muppet's having a seizure. If you somehow found a way to make a recording of this calamity you would have The Topography of the Lungs. For that's all that there really is to the album; noise and more noise. Its beyond bad.

There is not one redeeming quality to The Topography of the Lungs. The complete lack of anything that would even resemble a melody and the seemingly random instrumentation makes it incredibly hard to listen to. I'm sure there are a few masochists out there that would derive some sort of pleasure out of The Topography of the Lungs, but unless you have a lot of drugs on hand and an art school education I'd recommend that you stay the hell away from it.



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user ratings (15)
Chart.
2.7
average

Comments:Add a Comment 
Athom
Staff Reviewer
December 18th 2008


17222 Comments


This was so painful to listen to.

Willie
Moderator
December 18th 2008


16048 Comments


Man, it's a little short and since I'm unfamiliar with the genre I'm a little unsure what I'd even be hearing. On the other hand, if it's really just crap and there's nothing to it then the length is justified. I can't help thinking that maybe there was a point to this album or something specific they were shooting for. Did you research this album at all?

But even in pieces like Brotzmann's Machine Gun, I have been able to find at least pockets of enjoyable material regardless of how short they last.
I'm pretty sure you don't want to start a sentence with "but".

Edit: I'm not trying to be an ass. I'm really curious if they were shooting for a certain vibe or element or whatever on the album... like Mike Patton on that album where there aren't any real words used through the whole thing.This Message Edited On 12.17.08

Digging: Skrew - Universal Immolation

heyseuss
December 18th 2008


384 Comments


Haha, why am I always more tempted to listen to crap I've never heard rather than supposed masterpieces?

Athom
Staff Reviewer
December 18th 2008


17222 Comments


I tried to find some info on it and came up empty. If they were aiming for something its way over my head. What's your email address? I'll send it to you if you want to give it a try.
This Message Edited On 12.17.08

Willie
Moderator
December 18th 2008


16048 Comments


Yeah, I'll give it a shot. It's my screen name at gmail.com

Haha, why am I always more tempted to listen to crap I've never heard rather than supposed masterpieces?
I'm the same way. I think it's a subconscious hope to hear what the other people missed.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
December 18th 2008


17222 Comments


Sent.

Willie
Moderator
December 18th 2008


16048 Comments


Thanks. I was reading up on the genre and I can see how this can be hard to get into, but now I'm excited to get home and dl this.

Another great dissertation from Professor Wik E. Pedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_improvisationThis Message Edited On 12.18.08

psilocybin
December 18th 2008


74 Comments


When was Miles Davis performing free jazz?

Willie
Moderator
December 18th 2008


16048 Comments


It was on a Tuesday.

psilocybin
December 18th 2008


74 Comments


Oh I was pretty sure he never did so thanks for clearing that up.

psilocybin
December 18th 2008


74 Comments


This review is spot-on, by the way. Truly horrible. For free jazz, look elsewhere (Coleman, Coltrane, Brotzmann, Braxton, Taylor, Walter...)

rattlehead42147
December 18th 2008


1345 Comments


review is hilarious ie the last sentence "art school edu" had me cracking up. pos vote but i do wanna find some good free jazz thanks psilo, enjoy your shrooms.

It was on a Tuesday.

:lol: thank youThis Message Edited On 12.18.08

AtavanHalen
December 18th 2008


17927 Comments


When was Miles Davis performing free jazz?

Last Thursday.
Review is so good.

Meatplow
December 18th 2008


5524 Comments


ooooo i might have to check this out

i have a list of the worst albums I have ever come across I wish to increase it

http://www.sputnikmusic.com/list.php?memberid=229266

Athom
Staff Reviewer
December 18th 2008


17222 Comments


This has a 3.82 on RYM... I'm speechless.

Willie
Moderator
December 18th 2008


16048 Comments


Ok, you win... I listened to it twice, I spent a good hour or so last night researching the point of the genre and the ideas behind the album... and none of it convinced me that this was any good.

Edit: Oh yeah, have a pos too. It turns out this review was perfect.This Message Edited On 12.18.08

Athom
Staff Reviewer
December 20th 2008


17222 Comments


haha thanks.

FingerToes
December 28th 2008


27 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

Haha I'm listening to this right now. It's at least worth something for the comedic value.This Message Edited On 12.28.08

thebhoy
Emeritus
December 16th 2009


4461 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

ughhh free improvisation, not a good thing. This album is especially bad. I found this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OpiCUfZyco&feature=related

It's the same ideas, but done a little more interestingly. It's not an easy, or remotely enjoyable listen but I like the way the mood and textures build.

AggravatedYeti
December 17th 2009


7685 Comments


^ check out John Cage or Nam Jun Paik, Keelan, they're amazing audio/visual performance artist. Cage specifically was an avant-garde composer that really broke down the ideas of music and sound and what you can/cannot do with them, more importantly what does constitute 'sound' and 'music'. Paik was a video artist that worked with Cage frequently and put on an array of interesting musical centered performance pieces throughout his career. If you're even remotely interested in avant-sound Cage could be right up your alley, his ideas can be difficult, but are infinitely rewarding.



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