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Controlled Bleeding & Sparkle in Grey, "Perversions of the Aging Savant"

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cover imageFunctioning excellently as a conceptual split release between a legendary band (Controlled Bleeding) and a younger project (Sparkle in Grey) that pull from similarly idiosyncratic backgrounds, the two halves of this record differ greatly, but blend thematically.  Both present genre defying, stylistically diverse and unconventional instrumental music that are another notch in their impressive discographies.

Old Bicycle Records

Controlled Bleeding's half of this album, "The Perks of Being a Perv" is a six song suite that pulls from all the different eras of Paul Lemos' long standing band.  The brief bookending pieces capture the bizarre jazz-tinged era of the project.  "Intro" is an amalgam of jazzy percussion and strings, along with scat vocals from the late Joe Papa, while "Birdcanned Pt. 2" is a more blistering, erratic outburst that calls to mind Naked City's "hardcore miniatures".  Between these two are slew of pieces that touch most largely on the band’s instrumental rock sound, while even giving a throw back to their harsh noise moments.  A song like "Garage Dub" has an almost surf rock mood to it, with a rapid tempo and some frequent and dramatic lead guitar moments that never drift too far into the world of self-indulgence, but get as close as they can without becoming a bad thing.

Both "Springtime in Brooklyn" and "Birdcanned Pt. 1" emphasize a bit more synth in addition to Lemos' guitar, and at times the electronic element becomes a deranged take on new age instrumental music.  The instrumental components are similar, but Lemos and crew assemble them in unexpected and bizarre ways that are very effective.  The lengthy centerpiece "Perks, Pt. 1" is where the band's noise days come back in force.  Harsh and raw noise defines the lengthy piece, but paired with a distinct rhythm and what sounds like guitar shredding that is completely obliterated by distortion and effects.  Towards its closing moments the piece falls apart into delicious chaos, but the compositional build and subsequent deconstruction is where the band’s brilliance shines through.

Sparkle in Grey's "The Rant of the Idiot Savant" is a single lengthy piece split into four distinct movements.  The Italian quartet takes a page from Controlled Bleeding's history of mutating and recontextualizing conventional music into completely peculiar forms.  The first two segments are heavily built around Franz Krostopovic's plinking piano and subtle electronics from Matteo Uggeri and Luca Sigurta, and later strings and Alberto Carozzi’s guitar.  Until mid-way through the second section, the piece is rather calm and mellow.  That is until a bizarre percussion passage cuts through and brings a narrative, film-score like drive to the piece.

The second two segments begin a transition into dissonance.  On part three, the electronic elements become more and more pronounced, as well as chaotic, and reach a climax before withdrawing, paired excellently with the pensive piano to result in a distinct contract.  The final section adds in a massive synthetic beat, pounding along with the piano accents and plucked strings to mix the peaceful and the boisterous.  Each project also supplies a single, shorter form piece to act as an epilogue for this album.  Sparkle in Grey's "Mevlano Pt. 1" is a piece of sweeping electronics that evolves into a hallucinogenic experience, while CB's "Live in Brooklyn, 2012" is a similar bit of mellow ambience and long, dramatic guitar solos.  Neither piece is as strong as their respective longer form performances, but make for a pleasant enough conclusion.

Controlled Bleeding and Sparkle in Grey are two distinct bands that do not necessarily sound like one another, but they share a similarly gleeful sense of experimentation.  Both halves are engaging, well conceived works of music featuring artists who are extremely adept at their instruments, but choose to create extremely strange and confrontational music.  Fans of Controlled Bleeding’s expansive career will find much to love here, both from that band and the less familiar Sparkle in Grey.

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Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 August 2015 21:00  


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