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The Work: Live in Japan

Avant-garde meets progressive rock meets post/punk on this reissue of the early 80's live recording from The Work, a band that included Bill Gilonsis on guitars and alto sax, Tim Hodgkinson on Hawaiian guitar, alto sax, organ, and lead vocals, Amos on bass, and Chris Cutler on drums. The foursome makes some eclectic sounds here, not your traditional stuff by any means. After the bouncy and intricate opener "State Room", the band launches into an almost King Crimson-like piece called "Like This", where Gilonsis does a very good Robert Fripp impression circa Starless and Bible Black. Heavy rock guitar riffs and post punk vocals highlight "Fingers & Toes", while massive and angular guitar patterns mix with spacey atmospherics on "Pop". Other strong tunes include the raucous noise of "Duty", the stabbing guitar power of "Do It" (which also features some impressive bass and drum work), the intricate but all too brief instrumental "Benidorm", and the Zappa meets Crimson zaniness of "Night By the Sea". Don't forget the band's infamous "I Hate America", a manic and complex piece, is also included here as well.

If Live in Japan has anything going against it, it's that many of the songs tend to sound very similar. However, fans of the avant-garde, especially more aggressive and rocking examples, will find the intricate yet in your face mix here quite enjoyable.

Track Listing
1. State Room
2. Like This
3. Fingers & Toes
4. Pop
5. Crabs
6. Duty
7. Cain & Abel
8. Do It
9. Putting A New String On The Hawaiin Guitar
10. Flies
11. Benidorm
12. Night By The Sea
13. I Hate America

Added: July 30th 2006
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: ReR Megacorp
Hits: 2408
Language: english

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The Work: Live in Japan
Posted by Kerry Leimer, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-07-30 16:15:20
My Score:

There are no reliable predictors for identifying which recordings will reach those of us who heroically populate the edge markets from those recordings which will remain silent and shelved. Within the great and growing scope of music by Tim Hodgkinson, Chris Cutler, Bill Gilonis and the others here assembled, availability of the work by The Work has remained somewhat scarce, through no fault of its own. Though personnel issues nearly lead to defaulting on the performances, The Work somehow managed to assemble and depart for the far East. Originally released only in Japan and out of print for more than 20 years this music doesn't sound even vaguely old. Play it next to the recent and excellent release by ZAAR and you'll get the idea. Not that time has stood still, but that when artists are this far ahead the rest need a few decades just to get flush. As one of only three concerts performed in Japan this is the only one that was recorded -- and for all that rarity, recorded on a stereo cassette deck " half way back the hall".

The sound is raw, anything but commercial, and offers some amazing inner detail. It's a remarkable technical accomplishment and anyone familiar with the inherent problems of mastering up from a somewhat marginal source will feel compelled to write a letter of thanks to Udi Koomran who is here credited with mastering this CD. And you'll need to thank The Work, who did the original remastering, some time ago, using a dbx Expander in an effort to counter the effects of those quirky little compressors typical of cassette decks of that time. After multiple generations and the advent of digital audio technology there's a great sheen to the belated but finished product, miles away from commercially defined "sound" and incredible to hear -- especially loud.

As for the music, The Work feels right at home in their ability to unsettle and raise up a deleterious and terrifying amalgam of guitar, sax, organ, bass, drums and voice. This is rock that borders on becoming uncontrollable, violently awake and finding its own completeness in a splintered and diffused coherence that remains strangely, perfectly concise. Definitive RIO with a playlist that includes the equally rare single "I Hate America", a song which, given our administration's current standing with the populations of the world, must be charting absolutely everywhere right now. A truly great example of the sort of music that should never be neglected and can never be marginalized -- the profound and purposeful extension of something that began years ago and continues, twenty years after. If enough people pay heed, Ad Hoc promises a reissue of the complete The Work.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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