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Joseph Hammer and Jason Crumer, "Show Em The Door"

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cover imageThis collaboration between veteran LAFMS tape loop wizard Joseph Hammer and harsh noise titan Jason Crumer is not something I ever expected to happen, so the appearance of this album was an incredibly pleasant surprise.  Even better, the album feels like a true collaboration: while some of Hammer's distinctiveness is necessarily eclipsed by Crumer's flame-throwing, the contrast between the two artists' styles ultimately heightens the impact of both the more musical passages and the searing noise eruptions.


Sadly, it took me entirely too long to become familiar with Hammer's work, as the LA Free Music Society is decidedly not my scene at all and his solo work is quite hard to come by (though he did release an album on Pan in 2010 that somehow eluded me).  While he does not sound much like Jason Lescalleet, the two have a lot in common, as they both work with tape loops and have been quietly making great, unique music for a very long time and seem completely immune to the comings and goings of various trends and scenes.  Hammer's methods are quite a mystery to me, but he generally seems to create slowly building collages from blank tape loops and snatches of radio transmissions.

Crumer, for his part, is similarly unfazed by shifting trends, as nearly all of his former North American harsh noise peers have moved onto either drone music or something beat-oriented, yet he is still doing the same thing that he has always done and is absolutely killing at it.  The sheer violence of Crumer's work makes this quite an interesting and challenging collaboration, as it necessitates a lot of restraint and space on his part to allow Hammer's quieter, more slow-moving contributions to fully flower.  In fact, there are some pieces in which I wish Jason had been a lot more aggressive, such as the closing "TB Blues" (the album's sole misstep).  Hammer has plenty of time to unfold and develop that piece's looped accordion motif, but it is not particularly interesting and Crumer never gets around to exploding, opting instead to just sputter and simmer in the background.  Also, the periodic coughing and wheezing is fairly annoying and unfunny (I suppose it was rather naïve of me to expect no LAFMS-style wackiness at all on this album).

The remaining three pieces, however, are generally quite spectacular and tend to highlight both musician's strengths.  The title piece, for example, gradually evolves from a slow burning throb into a lurching, crunching, and oft-explosive Crumer apocalypse before giving way to a sputtering and stuttering outro of looped acoustic guitars and radio noise.  "Guitar," unsurprisingly, also features acoustic guitars quite prominently.  It takes time to get going, as it sounds like a tape recorder falling down a very long flight of stairs for much of its duration, but it gradually coheres into something quite melancholy and melodic by the end. The remaining piece, "Banner Drop," is probably the most perfect blurring of the two styles, as a grinding and dissonant electric guitar loop is violently slashed and battered by Crumer's eruptions of noise before gradually subsiding into a soothing industrial hum.

In general, I prefer the moments when Crumer allows himself to fully open up with ear-shredding blasts, but that is mostly because he allows himself to do it so infrequently.  Consequently, it tends to hit quite hard when it happens.  He and Hammer probably made as fine an album as could be expected, given the small amount of time they have had to work together and the sizable gulf between their styles.  Show Em The Door is not perfect, but Jason and Joseph definitely sound amazing on the occasions when they manage to lock together perfectly.  Also, I am surprised that this union even worked at all, as it seemed to me like Hammer's work needed a great deal of time and space to fully cohere...and it does, but I failed to anticipate how great it could sound if his work sneakily cohered behind the scenes as I was being blasted by cascading white noise and metallic crunches.



Last Updated on Monday, 28 January 2013 08:49  


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