Friday, February 25, 2011
Heavy Metal Be-Bop #1: Dan Weiss
I'm pleased to announce the debut of Heavy Metal Be-Bop, a new interview series dealing with the intersections of jazz and metal. Cosmo Lee, the editor of Invisible Oranges—my favorite place to read about metal on the internet—has kindly agreed to play host.
The mission statement of the series could be expressed colloquially as, What's the deal with jazz and metal? As any reader of this blog knows, the two styles form the main pillars of my music consumption. I'm far from alone here: In addition to Ben Ratliff and NPR's Lars Gotrich—both of whose jazz/metal examinations I cite in the intro to HMB #1—Phil Freeman and various others have written extensively and intelligently about both genres and the ways in which they reflect one another. In terms of this series, though, my intent is to focus on musicians—more specifically (at least for starters) jazz-loving metal musicians, and still more specifically, jazz-loving metal musicians whose work might not reflect an obvious metal influence. ("Moving beyond Naked City" might be a good subheading for the endeavor as I see it.)
The brilliant drummer Dan Weiss—who made my favorite jazz album of 2010 and who used to play in doom-metal outfit Bloody Panda—is my first guest. As you'll read, we talked jazz and metal for a while and then listened to some music together (his choices): Gorguts, Metallica, Meshuggah. Dig, especially, Weiss's attunement to the emotional trajectory of the riff. The next installment of HMB (which will post as soon as the transcribing gods will allow) is a chat with jazz pianist and scarily knowledgeable metalhead Craig Taborn. I'm psyched to have HMB out there—do let me know what you think.
P.S. I can only view it as auspicious that the Times has just published a Brad Mehldau playlist that cites Cancer Bats.
P.P.S. A few of Dan Weiss's listening selections got edited out for space, and I wanted to list them here for the record:
1) Cardiacs - various songs, including the phenomenal "Dirty Boy". Insane British "pronk" (prog-punk) band—had never heard them before. It's like King Crimson gone Rocky Horror! Weiss: "For me, this is their anthem. I think I listened to this 10 or 15 times in a row one night. It just keeps going the whole way. And the harmony is almost like Renaissance, Medieval music, the way the harmony moves. Very strange. Beautiful stuff. So weird, fuckin’ weird melody. They just lay on this; they hang on it. I love the way they lay on that."
2) Ustad Rais Khan - "Raga Marwa." Weiss drew several parallels between the complex beat cycles in Indian classical music and extreme metal. Weiss: "Classical Indian music: Could it be equated to blast-beat metal? It’s just all groove to me."
3) Miles Davis - "Directions" (live at Antibes, 1969). Weiss: "Just the way [Jack DeJohnette] opens this shit up. He’s playing as hard as he can. Hear those crashes… He’s bashin’. That kills me."