Review Summary: Machine gun, automatic gun for fast, continuous firing.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
The machine gun, designed to kill as many targets in the shortest amount of time, a vessel of destruction. This serves as the metaphor of Peter Brotzmann's free jazz masterwork and describes exactly what the opening notes of the first track set out to accomplish; to reveal another side of sound through explicit, abrasive, truly frightening and impenetrable waves of saxophone blasting, bizarre percussive hits, wondering pianos and various schemes of atmosphere.
This sound is achieved through what is the dominant instrument here, the saxophones. Each of the players present demonstrate excellent control over these instruments and are able to produce a wide variety of sounds through them, from violent high pitched shrieking, to low pitched dirges. The saxophone players exhibit fast and complex sequences of notes and melodies that intertwine with the rest of the instruments creating more layers the music can build upon, and will occasionally with some degree of humour break into what seems to be dance rhythms that give the listener a sense of humanity amidst the chaos.
The drummers featured use more than just a standard drum kit, they use various bongo drums, sticks, and toms and provide one of the more unique elements heard on the album, especially within the song, Machine Gun (First Take) when the music takes a more subtle approach and quiets the usual attack of saxophone to a low growl, this is where the drummers get to shine. They play off each other to create more of an atmosphere than complex rhythms. In these quieter moments is where the piano player can also be heard more, the piano player even goes as far as to run his hands across the piano strings, bang on keys in the lowest register, and play short and fast running solos. Lastly the bass player provides the most “normal” tone on this entire work not reaching the experimental and aggressive heights as the other instruments, particularly on Responsible (Second Take) the bassist will keep the band in control with catchy baselines and melodies adding more depth to the sound.
All these elements come together to create one of the hardest and most challenging pieces of jazz out there, with only small glimpses of melody spread throughout the work, it makes for a noisy and difficult listen. But for one who can learn to appreciate this volume sound and aggression will find a very engaging album.