Straight mainline

When you were young, did you lift the needle on the record and cut straight to the good part of the song? That question betrays both age and attitude, and I'll cop to both. Henry Kaiser and Alan Licht record together for the first time (with Mikko Biffle and Rick Walker), putting together a series of pieces that are little more than solos laid over basic tracks.

Henry Kaiser/Alan Licht
Skip to the Solo
(Public Eyesore Records)
Biffle, Kaiser and Lich swap duties on bass and guitars, and Walker provides the percussive connective tissue. Fans of Kaiser and Licht will know that while this album does vaguely fit in the realm of jazz, the sound coming from the speakers at any time could be anything. Storm squalls, gorgeous ruminations or just some persistent noodling. All without the annoyance of verse, chorus or bridge.

While this is about what I expected, I did not anticipate the adrenaline rush these pieces provide. Kaiser is one of the great experimental guitarists, but on this set he uses his versatility to heighten the impact of his playing. Yeah, there's the requisite bleeps and blips, but largely this is an album about the emotional potential of electric guitar.

I got lost. Seriously and truly. The lines are at times sinewy and at other times choppy. Sometimes the music pushed, and other times it pulled. Not unlike the total chopsocky first installment of Kill Bill, there is the danger of overkill. And perhaps Licht and Kaiser crossed the line. It they did, though, I crossed willingly as well.

There are folks who ask me why I listen to "weird" music. First, it's not weird to me. But second, I get off on ideas. This album is overflowing with ideas, ideas that are played to within an inch of their lives. The rush is brutal, kinda like riding the pipeline (as if I've ever done that!). Drop the needle anywhere here and you will be more than satisfied.

Jon Worley

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