The rigid nature of heavy guitar-based music leaves little wiggle room if things go awry. Solos, riffs and choruses mean nothing if a band can’t cut the mustard live. A sloppy performance can leave a sour taste in many a punters mouth, hence it is very rare for metal and improv to walk hand-in-hand.
Sure, bands like Fantomas and Naked City might sound like chaotic, hardcore miniatures but all of those bands songs are painstakingly rehearsed and planned out. On the more rocking end, bands like Clutch and The Melvins possess a rare chemistry where they can extend or retract a song on any given night, but Neil Fallon and King Buzzo themselves would say that it’s more of a band work ethic and dedication to practise that allows them these freedoms.
A few black metal bands have had some occasional improvised demo tapes and the spidery riffage of Thorns or Orannsi Pazuzu may sound out of control, but again its all pre-planned.
Listening to the debut of Perth trio, the curiously named Low My Guy is an exercise in patience: seven completely improvised tracks of noisey, metallic chaos unleashed by the relatively new-ish label, Iluso Records. But with patience and continued listening, one can find a lot to enjoy.
A phenomenal, clattering drum performance by Michael Caratti (also of Original Past Life and dMu) is a true highlight. Occasional, highly trebly riffs wash over like waves, but Andrew Bassett—who I believe might have played for cult death/grinders Maximum Perversion—is there to bring feedback and noise for the most part, along with heavily effected vocal snatches, kind of like Tom Waits and Mike Patton having a drunken Skype conversation with poor wifi.
The synth-bass—by the mysterious Don K. Lon—is a nice touch, normally it would be super noodly bass lines running all up and down, the synth bass keeps things grounded and is never overbearing. Song lengths range from the opening minute and half of Abuse Of Process Part I to the squealing 10-minute epic, Feed The Worm.
For many, this will be a difficult listen with the band describe themselves as a cross between Merzbow and The Melvins, and the trebly guitars are an acquired taste—although I maintain that if the guitar was swapped with a Saxophone then some jazz snobs would call it a masterpiece. But the sheer gall to try and pull off completely improv metal should be worth a listen or two. Also check out the new dMu album, Synaptic Self, for something a little more structured. For those looking for a challenging listen (it’s great on headphones), then this album is 'on like Donkey Kong'.
Scott Bishop is a regular host on RTR FM 92.1's Critical Mass, which airs every Wednesday from 9PM (GMT+8) in Perth, Australia.