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Shining: Live Black Jazz DVD

I've struggled to describe the sound certain bands create, but Shining leaves me at a loss. I'm not saying I don't like this release--I enjoyed it a great deal. I am suggesting, though, that some things can only be experienced to be completely understood. I think that fans of Shining should not miss this release. If you are new to the band, as I am, this may be a superb introduction. The live shots help create a sense of what these guys are doing musically; they also help keep track of the various musical parts effectively. Live Black Jazz, unsurprisingly covers much of the latest release, Black Jazz, but also looks back over previous work to give an overall impression of a career that, lately at least, is trying to redefine the boundaries of heavy metal and jazz. My view is that Shining succeeds in pushing the boundaries; my guess is that they will likely have a lasting influence.

This is a very good looking video release. It's shot in high definition, giving the impression not only of being there, but of practically roaming around the stage, paying attention to each musician as they play. The video is shot largely in an attempt to capture the massive energy that Shining brings to the stage. I enjoyed watching the intensity of this performance, but I did not like the strobe-light effect of most of the show, the constant flashing lights, the rapid quick cuts and the constantly moving camera. Sitting through this is like watching a found-footage horror movie directed by someone trying to win a 5K. I struggled with the hyper-movement, especially since Shining is so often praised for its musical intelligence and virtuosity. Watching this took as much work as listening. Am I getting old? Who knows?

Let's discuss the music for a moment, shall we? Readers familiar with Shining will know that their sound is an almost outrageous blend of experimental jazz, heavy metal, and other musical influences including 20th century avant-garde classical music. The title Black Jazz represents an attempt to label what these guys are doing--it's a start. I prefer to describe their sound with one of Shining's song titles: "In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster." Kitsch refers to the trite, the clichéd, the unthinking--entertainment for people who only like things that require little effort. Shining's music, however, is anything but kitsch; it is, as the title suggests, a monster. The sound is one that many noise. Remember, though, that monsters aren't just there to frighten people away; their role is also to forecast danger and to remind people of social and cultural boundaries. Shining is a little like that--they are playing at the edges of extreme music and taking things further. They are monsters in search of a border that will not contain them. To that end, they will push as hard as possible against the simple, the clichéd, and the kitschy. They succeed, but viewers will certainly want to give this a couple of views before passing judgment. There's more going on here than a first impression will allow for.

Most reviewers will comment on Jorgen Munkeby's saxophone playing. He is certainly a major highlight on this DVD. His playing is incredible--he is constantly pushing the boundaries of what the saxophone ought to do. I don't know the larger jazz repertoire for saxophone, but I know I haven't heard anything quite like this. With the focus on the sax, it's easy to ignore what the other guys are doing--don't make that mistake. I was constantly impressed with the back end of this band--check out the way the bass and the drums work together to keep things on track (whatever that means in this case) but also roam around wildly, discovering their own limits. About thirty minutes into Live Black Jazz, the drums and bass kick into the coolest groove that sets up an electric saxophone solo, backed by a keyboard line that repeats the melody, with constant variation. It was exciting, as is the rest of this release. This isn't for everyone, but these guys are serving up a kind of extreme metal that should garner significant attention.

Track Listing:
1. The Madness and the Damage Done
2. Fisheye
3. In the Kingdom of Kitsch You Will Be a Monster
4. The Red Room
5. Goretex Weather Report
6. Winterreise
7. Exit Sun
8. Healter Skelter
9. 21st Century Schizoid Man

Added: March 14th 2012
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 1729
Language: english

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