Chris Murray, "Dark Vader Demos" (self-released) and Square People's Jazz Maturity "Moodscapes" (High Density Headache))

Square People's (formerly Square People's Jazz Maturity) Chris Murray sent me two tapes recently, one features new demos he's working on under the title "Dark Vader" and the other is a Square People's album called Moodscapes. Birthed in the womb of country music, Nashville, TN, Murray's music is the opposite of hillbilly pop. His solo four track demos and the work of the band (which includes Murray, Craig Schenker, Tommy Stangroom, and Charlie Rauh) is the sound of free jazz-rock mixed with Half Japanese heart on sleeve. The "Dark Vader" songs sound to me as if Half Japanese recorded Half Gentlemen/Not Beasts after they seriously studied jazz (AND learned to play their instruments well!). The singing and playing displays a kind of purposeful naiveté. I can't really understand a single lyric because of the fidelity (which is low), but I love it!

Moodscapes (released on the Murfreesboro based [defunct] label High Density Headache) is better recorded - not by much - and is definitely the work of a band. All the players from the guitar to sax to drums display a technical level of musicality while still being freewheeling maniacs. This is the work of young people who love free jazz, but don't take it to the level of protest or spirituality that the originators of the art form did. Side A was recorded more or less in the studio while the B side is a live show. Both feature the similar titles and its great fun to compare the different takes of the tunes. I was impressed with the punk-jazz of their attitudes. Perhaps not as breathtakingly dexterous as the Minutemen, Square People are at the very least energetic and ragin' full on.

Learn more HERE and HERE.