Killick, the grand master of the h'arpeggione an eighteen string beast of an instrument has returned with yet another collection of challenging and visceral, mind bending avant-garde music. This time around the man has surrounded himself with some truly amazing, like minded musicians who share his vision of creating improvised music that isn't concerned with labels or characterization. In addition to himself Exsanguinette features saxophonist Larry Ochs, trumpeter Liz Allbee and Mastodon drummer Brann Dailor. The disc consists of seven tracks and seven re-mixes.
Bordering at times on what can be described as free jazz, tracks such as the ferocious one two punch of "Uninhibtorent" and "Bloodletting" explode with an almost metallic like intensity. "Bloodletting" begins with Dailors frenetic thrash drumbeat as Killick quickly slashes and burns away briefly before the full sonic force of Ochs and Allbee engulfs the listener in a sheath of white noise which continues almost unabated for almost nine minutes. There are many different sides to Exsanguinette however and it's not all about blinding intensity, as a more delicate and sympathetic approach is employed on the songs "Hosannas" and "Brickbats". There is significant space for the musicians to gently move around, glide in and out and add their own subtle contributions. The real gem here though is the twelve minute "Grasshopper Escapement". This track begins with trace amounts of electronic treatments while Och's lays down some fantastic multi-layered sax work. Killick taps away on his instrument, creating an eerie sense of foreboding as the tension begins to mount. The sax begins to bubble over as more electronics are employed and Dailor's tribal drum beats finally begin to enter the fray around the halfway mark. Albee's crisp sounding trumpet also breaks through the dense layers and as Dailor suddenly shifts tempos the song kicks into an all out orgasmic frenzy. This is an absolutely lethal track and I'd buy Exsanguinette just on the merits of this song alone. Speaking of lethal the production on this disc is absolutely stellar as each instrument comes through crystal clear and with equal force in the mix. Dailor's drum sound for one is mighty impressive.
As is the case with re-mixes the final seven tracks on Exsanguinette offer different variations on the originals and a few of them are really interesting especially the "Grasshopper Reassembly and Scatter" courtesy of someone known as Id M Theft Able.
Exsanguinette is an exceptionally diverse and eclectic album. Is it challenging? Of course it is and that's because Killick doesn't make anything less than challenging music which always borders on the avant-garde. What really makes this album work though is the sense that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. There are no clashing egos as each musician is working together solely to serve the song, which can often be a rare thing. However, when it does occur it means everything to both the musician and the listener.
6) Grasshopper Escapement
7) Mr. Woodson
8) Uninhib? (remix)
9) Owyllf End Rayvnnf Thay Ore Plvckyng Thee Yce Off Eterynytee (remix)
10) Waiting Theme (remix)
11) Form Constant (remix)
12) Hard Being Lazy (remix)
13) Grasshopper Reassembly and Scatter (remix)
14) Which Way Is Here (remix)