This improvisatory freakout featuring Nels Cline and Zach Hill was recorded in one day in Chicago. The four long tracks comprising this album consist of drums, electronics, and guitar in fairly equal doses. As cathartic as it may have been to perform, some of its intent gets lost in the recording.
These songs get pretty abstract, as can be expected with improvised music, but they’re really more effective when the group heads in the same direction. Carla Bozulich had a hand in editing these tracks in post-production, but for the most part the edits seem arbitrary because each song’s elements are so similar, particularly on the first two, “Enduring Freedom” and “Fork-Fed.” The most engaging and enjoyable song is also the album’s longest, “Deathwatch on the American Empire,” which builds to a fairly straight but heavy finale. The electronics, while always present, take the foreground on “Space Needle,” which is nice change.
While each of the tracks has some decent moments, sometimes the album seems to prefer chaos for its own sake. That’s not necessarily a bad achievement in itself, but it doesn’t always make for a compelling recording.