It’s another flurry a’ Murray! This obscure cut originating from, for me, probably his greatest stint (fall of the late 1960’s) on the Shandar record series. Shandar was a French initiative, i believe a series of live concerts (or at least the label that released material from these concerts) which I know included other pressings by Cecil Taylor & Sun Ra (good shit!). The four tracks on the LP were captured live in 1968, & thus sit adjacent to his two riotously cataclysmic cacophonic classics that were issued by the cult Actuel editions (there were actually x3 on Actuel but one was a dud) during the same aeon.
On this eruption, Murray installs seven other assailants, all as far as I am aware incognito members of the French Avant-Garde grotto with the exception of Kenneth Terroade (listed here as Ken Terroade), a hyper recondite disappearing Jamaican saxophonist who conflagrated some of the most intense & flaying saxaphonic extremity OF-ALL-TIME on Sunny’s utter classic “Real” from the album Sunshine. As with the best of Murray, this is a mess of mutant, chaotic-as-fuck, off-key & hysterical psychedelic-algal-blooming. A jactitating jumbling of Jurassic jargon & convulsive nervous collapse, riddled with curt non-connecting frames of vaguely ordered/presentable “musical” rationalizing spilling into asymmetric caterwaul. Desperate, ridiculous, deranged & really quite brilliant. It is not up to the soaring (& indeed searing) standard of the other two decent Actuel counterparts, but the A-side of this LP is definitely a quality expansion on the Murray directive. As usual, Murray is mostly a quivering gush of deforming noise. He plays a kind of flopping blast beat with major’ major attention lavished on the cymbals, which just sound like a swollen & violent stream or fast-moving body of water coursing over/through a fluid-resistant microphone. It’s a racket basically, but it’s exciting & a very primal emanation of cascading energy without abatement, like random extreme motion or something. He messes with gradients within, like the pitch or potency of the drum strokes/bash & on/off foot work, punctuations. Noisy, unsure, uneven, awkward, draconian, nonsensical, passionate. Everyone else around him just kind of fights for, er’ – survival? enlightenment? It’s hard to tell, but this is fantastically mutilated & monstrous mayhem with sections of abject-anxious Avant-whatever.
To the B-side! CRIPES! My heart almost jumped out my arse when I saw the listing of a 15.30 version of Murrays “Flower Train”. Anyone who knows his beyond killer Sunshine LP (his best as far as I am concerned) will know of this sublime cosmos ripping pandemonium boutade & also that it ended way’ way too soon. Here’s a chance to put it right (minus super heavy-weights Roscoe Mitchell, Archie Shepp & Lester Bowie)! Unfortunately we could not be further from that scenario as the opportunity is almost totally wasted by a gigantic poem, orated in a muchos anaemic manner for the majority of the track with tenuous dribble in the background! Oh well. Once it actually gets going it’s not so bad, but the appetite-ruiner & the previous take on the Sunshine LP means that no mustard & no cutting are happening here kid! Murray is a very interesting guy & it’s actually a real bloody pity that he did not get to lead more recordings. Murray meant mayhem, & the results of his recordings went beyond his abilities as a musician by his even greater abilities as a visionary & the dragooning of pandemonium he would push for. Some of his drumming is even quite terrible, but I will always love him for what he achieved & how he urged such overdrive from the musicians he assembled. His playing was Difficult, drastic, ugly even but ginormously unique & utterly out-of-the-frame!
This one can be a bit tough to find & there is no reissue available.