Form A Log and Moth Cock team up on one album, while Jameszoo gets his minimalist jazz working
Form A Log / Moth Cock
The Chicago label Hausu Mountain has been killing it since forming 4 years ago, and it does justice to the brilliantly batshit-crazy Japanese movie (Hausu) from which it takes its name. It has unleashed dozens of twisted releases that roam the netherworlds of electronic, ambient and noise-oriented sound-making, including the recent split LP release from Form A Log and Moth Cock.
Form A Log is a trio that solely uses four-track recorders as musical instruments, playing back choice bits from stacks of cassettes, and in its strange universe, it promotes “Log Culture” and encourages people to “throw Benjis” by making the “V”-sign finger gesture. Its members are strewn across the nation, including Noah Anthony (Profligate) of Philadelphia, Ren Schofield (Container) of Providence, RI and Rick Weaver (Dinner Music) in San Antonio.
Its half combines bouncy beats with an often demented, yet gleeful ruckus that keeps the listener both confounded and engaged; the uncertainty is a benefit, not a turn-off. “Strange Leisure” will surely irritate neat-freaks, using loops that go out of phase with each other with guitar fragments and drum machine beats.
The brief “Gimmie That Bass” is a room-clearer, with piercing, high-frequency tones and squeals, and the discombobulated “The Real Verbal Kim” has pieces of vocals that are sliced and diced into slivers and also stretched like Silly Putty into uncomfortable contortions.
The Kent, OH duo of Pat Modugno and Doug Kent is Moth Cock, which according to Modugno is some kind of moth-chicken hybrid, and it’s on the same warped wavelength as Form A Log, using processed loops underneath clarinet, trumpet and vocal parts and taking inspiration from bands like Black Dice, Skaters and those on Ralph Records (like the Residents and Renaldo and the Loaf).
The duo’s music invades like scampering robot insects, and looping patterns are like the aural equivalent of Katamari Damacy-type boulders of broken children’s toys rolling around. “Paulus” has a distinctive playful attitude with cartoon sound effects, and “Stinaff Ext.” is both cute and disquieting with odd textures seemingly attached using a hot glue gun.
This split LP is in the red on the weirdness meter and will hit the spot for jaded, adventurous listeners who enjoy riotous, cheerful insanity.
The debut album Fool from Dutch producer Mitchel van Dinther, a.k.a. Jameszoo, seems to be an answer to the question, “What would a jazz album sound like if it was barely jazz?” It’s a head-scratching anomaly that’s at times fairly minimal and with a pop-song attention span, mostly using synth keyboard vamps to breathe a hint of jazz origins into the proceedings.
Jameszoo himself calls what he does “naive computer jazz” which is a pretty good take, as long as you understand that his naiveté is seemingly more innocence rather than a lack of self-awareness. Also, the album presents the artist as an outsider, and not a jazz professional who has spent years practicing scales. An impish mischief pervades Fool, and its often skeletal arrangements force the listener to lean in, as if crouching down to hear a joke being told by a youngster.
The opening track “Flake” is a refreshing start, with keyboard frolicking shaped by a soul-funk feel and envelope effect, with jazz piano runs entering the picture. “Soup” offers glitchy percussion and pieces of guitar, sax and drum-kit parts among its breezy, cool lounge attitude.
The woozy “Flu” features Brazilian composer Arthur Verocai (whose 1972 self-titled album is a cult classic and who has worked with Jorge Ben), with hints of samba acoustic guitar and violin among syrupy synths and cymbal-heavy drumming.
“The Zoo” also features a ringer, in the form of acclaimed jazz pianist Steve Kuhn, and after some freestyle soloing, the track settles into light jazz with childish lyrics, like “Ham, how I love to eat ham. Vultures don’t give a damn.” “Crumble” serves up some swift drumming, like that which might be heard on a drum-and-bass record, with keyboard riffage and unclassified background outlandishness.
The oddball Fool is an album that, despite its friendliness, isn’t easily digested, but disingenuous or not, its fledgling wankery is perplexing fun. friendliness, isn’t easily digested, but disingenuous or not, its fledgling wankery is perplexing fun.