Monday, July 30, 2007

MEF TEEF / OWL XOUNDS split (Arbor)

For disciples of that sometimes bizarre arc that joins "traditional" free musics with contemporary noise and other-ism, this split joins two young groups in what has been a prolific year for both. Iowa City's Mef Teef will probably be familiar to regular readers of this site. With Raccoo-oo-oon's Andy Spore beating out constantly mutating rhythms (although it's not clear whether there's always one person on percussion), the remaining troupe of Zaander, Kmiec and Kinkade create an interplay of trumpet, guitar, saxophone, piano, whistles and whatever else happens to be lying around. As Arbor head Mike Pollard notes on the label description, the session progresses with definitive mood changes. Mef Teef might not have existed long as a collective entity, but the members are extremely receptive to each other and able to adapt to spontaneous changes in a way which recalls much maturer groups. As heard on their previous output, the band prefer to stay out of the fire music and concentrate on quirky melodic changes, quiet textures and I swear there's a nod or two to Steely Dan. Most importantly, the band has a good sense of humor; you don't have to play like Albert Ayler, just play what you like.
Owl Xounds plays the polar opposite to Mef Teef. Once Adam Kriney starts splashing the cymbals (and dude has some SERIOUS cymbals), it's a nonstop barn burner. The liner notes admit that this live Cakeshop (Manhattan, NYC) set was recorded on the shittiest of handheld Sonys, so it's difficult to discern everything going on, especially since the set was obviously pretty loud. Greg Vegas' electric guitar is unfortunately buried in the mix, but there's a good long segment that spotlights some outstanding bowed double bass by Gene Janas. Darius Jones tries to bust a rib on the alto like Brotzmann, and he comes pretty close. This is the first tape release that Owl Xounds has appeared on, and unfortunately it's already sold out from the label. Interested parties may want to track down their LP on Wooden Wand's Mad Monk label or one of their many CDs.