Sunday, October 29, 2006


Ocrilim at the Stone. kind of intense for a Sunday night. felt kind of off all weekend and this knocked me back to a pretty good place. in a disclamatory gesture, for those who appreciate that sort of thing, i might add that my very close friend and bandmate Tony G. was on this gig, holding down the bass chair with fury. see the Archaeopteryx link over to the right for Tony's own compositions.

as Tony pointed out, this was very much a recital, i.e. a verbatim reproduction of the recent Ocrilim record entitled "Anoint." [Ocrilim is, btw, Mick Barr, who is also Octis, who is also is the guitarist from Orthrelm and Crom-Tech. if you're not familiar with him, he's a scary-level shredder in a sort of weird postmetal vein of insane precision and sophistication, and also a writer of pi-length nonrepeating compositions as well as ones that stick for twenty minutes on an air-raid riff. anyway, make sense?] "Anoint" is, quite simply, a masterpiece, something that should attain canonical status, the kind of recording that assures you that art is still pushing forward and that anyone who says otherwise is a total dumbass. (See Zs post below for another example of a group of musicians who say, "Hell no," to the idea that there's nowhere new to go.)

basically the record takes Mick's aesthetic and normalizes it ever so slightly, just enough so that it's not sooooooooo hard to digest but only soooo hard to, or something like that. more repetition, more variation of tempos, more recurring motifs, more harmony (i don't wanna get out of my league but many of my theory-knowing friends say it's the first time he's really explored the vertical musical dimension, per se.). anyway, it's a totally fascinating record and contains an alarming amount of vertigo-inducing Amazing Parts.

my favorite parts of the show were pretty much my favorite parts of the album, which is to say, the reproduction was flawless. Tony had a huge sound and used pedals that replicated how the bass parts (overdubbed on the CD) sound on the record. when Mick and Tony locked in, the sound was crushingly heavy and watching them rock out together was a beautiful thing.

do not want to downplay Tony's contributions, but the main attraction was simply focusing on Mick's incredible technique and inventiveness. my favorite piece on "Anoint" is part 5(there are seven pieces, all untitled) and seeing this live was astounding. he just makes the guitar snarl and sing and gleam. and the fact that he's repeating more here allows you to really feel these parts and rock to them. the entire suite is just so powerful and overwhelming, but there's more of a sense of cohesion than with a lot of past Barr stuff. listening to the whole thing is like a journey. tonight, certain parts would settle down (like the beautiful meditative line that starts off part 2), but then the energy would just ramp up to an insane level of shred. Mick is just a deadly, deadly musician, embodying one of the purest unions of chops and creativity i have ever witnessed.

watching the show i was thinking about what a herculean achievement this guy's music represents. think about how many musicians get congratulated week in week out for their INFLUENCES, for copping to this or that hip style from this or that year or for emulating the band that happens to be cool to emulate this week. EVERY press release that i get at work is like that--"Hey, we're cool b/c we like the right bands." and for many bands, quite honestly, all they're setting out to do is to recombine influences in a cool and fun way and not change the world (which is fine, of course, as long as people know their place in the pecking order). but what about music that has only the faintest precedent, that is so glaringly new that you just have to take it on its own--you can dislike it but you sure as hell can't refute the immense creativity behind it. Mick just goes so far and pushes so hard in a way that's so so rare. Ian Mackaye once said of him, "He is our John Coltrane" and this is something like the gospel truth--a reminder that it's really easy to pretend that everything monumental in art, culture, human development happened THEN. seeing Mick, you know that NOW ain't so bad at all.

ps: it's amazing to think that the old guard is still around too! this has been an insane time for NYC music: several Cecil sightings, Evan Parker, the Zs fest. it is all happening around you.

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