Oliver Lake – Shine!

Oliver Lake-Shine!_ed

Here’s a one of Lake’s more obscure/overlooked projections. I can’t see why as it’s another scintillating discharge of baroque densely detailed mellifluent odd & erratic Avant-Garde mastery that strolls it’s own disparate track with stark individuality. Core associates Pheeroan akLaff & Michael Gregory Jackson are once again entwined, performing two of the four trax as a trio with Lake on side two, & joined by the rather aberrant compository of three violins, a cello (bowed by the excellent Abdul Wadud) & a piano (Anthony Davis) for the A-side’s two tunes. Lake composes all tracks & they veer & contrast considerably between massively chaotic free-formations, highly melodious & abject atonal, soft & frenzied, coherent & agitated all with Lakes signature of super graceful amazingly controlled sapiential complexity & gigantic virtuosity.

Lakes compositional formulations were formidably complex & often were devised on tone rather than chronologically compliant form, much more like a vocal recitation. 1976’s “Holding Together” really shot shit into the stratosphere with incredibly advanced & challenging syncopations, often concurrent. I think for immense intricacy only Anthony Braxton was in this deep. But much of Braxton’s stuff of this ilk for me was frequently more like an exercise or an example of demanding academic complexity. Lake makes it much’ more musical & free without the rigidity & repetition that Braxton would often (in complete deliberation no doubt) opt for, translating these awkward & alien talents into his compositions & surging off them, sounding much less contrived & restricted. I don’t think you can downplay the immense virtuosity & stringent/disciplined yet wild & feral pedigree of the excellent musicians around him, particularly the incredible akLaff & Jackson. In terms of technical ridiculousness & going into cerebellum-arrest from insane intricacy, especially in homologating & coordinating intense freeform expression through the lens of major technicality éclat, I think Lake & his lot are really the precursor to later M-BASE & were extraordinarily precocious & way ahead for their time (it still sounds & is stupendous).

Shine! Is really quite bewitching. It’s slick, clean & almost haughty or orgulus, but unquestionably searing with all it’s sax gouging mayhem, amazingly tight & super fast irregular drum bouncing-debris & Jackson’s wonderfully weird & characteristically singular way of playing & warping the guitar. The peregrine strings & piano inclusion is also marvellous, successful both in result & novelty. I always feel that there is a softness at play amongst Lake’s material despite all the perilous caterwauling & storminess, it’s an odd/contradictory one but a facet of the Oliver Lake distinction & enigma. It seems that this album is not currently in print & has not been for some time. It’s also from what I gather not at all as esteemed as it should be & has been side-lined historically from it’s rightful position. Maybe it is an acquired taste? or simply that a lotta’ fools can’t handle this shit for not conforming to the typical dimensions or category, or being so far-out & gregariously difficult in it’s own hugely original mannerisms. To me it’s a definitive classic! strange, wonderful, beautiful, ridiculous!!!

LABEL: Novus/Arista

REKD: 1979