Art Ensemble Of Chicago – Chi Congo LP

AEOC-Chi Congo LP

Here’s yet another fantastic display of stringent pyromania from the maverick Chicago collective & their first-class convulsive bedlam & eccentric Jazz/African/Avant-Garde medley. The album sounds to me like one track/take, that’s split over both sides of the LP but is noted as four separate pieces on the sleeve.

The A-side unfurls with lively African orientated percussion drenched clamour but proceeds into quite a subdued almost diffident juncture (certainly for the kind of inflammatory & exceedingly idiosyncratic ebullience that AEOC were so famed at compelling), messing more with sounds & atmospheric experimenting, seeming somewhat an instigation or warm-up.

Favors is credited for the first half of side-A with Roscoe Mitchell covering the remainder & side B in it’s entirety (that’s compositional credits). Clearly most of this album is pure improvisational expulsion, but Roscoe has written some complex & florid compositional ornamentations that briefly jut out of the chaos/free-fall as abrupt & intemperate decorations (followed/coordinated by all members). The rest is Indian Country, explorational ramblings &/or the kind of clangourous volcanic impetuosity replete with abrasive saxophone paint-peelers, kit-witling hard-shelling, bass belligerence & high-velocity vagary. It takes a while for this LP to get going, with the real spectacle beginning during the last three minutes or so of the A-side. This unfortunately means that the track fades out as the main-event (for me anyways) starts to detonate, which is a pity. Never the less, side B starts as it means to go on, with vintage AEOC’s inextricable fury busting the gauges & flattening all containment with their berserk vivacity. Aside a brusque adjunct it’s total chaos with stupefying & immensely energetic instinctual overdrive as this incredible collective of “amiable aggressors” & bone-hard maniacs once again singe the ozone with gargantuan exuberance, terrific virtuosity & inventiveness. There’s even what’s either a dentist’s drill or some kind of valve obstructing reed technique during one phase of the record as they tear through like a way-ward cyclone. Yet another awesome Art Ensemble record.

I have an original LP of the album but am aware that it has been reissued on CD format in it’s original edition & a second version with a different cover that includes another rare AEOC recording “Go Home”. luckily, like most of the Art Ensemble back catalogue, both are still in circulation.

Label: Paula Records/Jewel Records

Rekd: 1973