Cinema Cinema – CCXMD
Free jazz and New York originated as a conjoined effort to reach a heightened awareness of pure expression. The Stone on the Lower East Side, Ali’s Alley in SoHo are just a few historical landmarks that opened this unique portal into a monstrous creative jazz output. From Albert Ayler to John Zorn, for a moment these reedists notched a mark in the spacetime continuum for their sundry social, political and spiritual styles to explore between the lines.
And that is what Cinema Cinema continues to do even five albums into their career. On CCXMD, the group goes beyond their own conventionality of guitars and drums to add Matt Darriau of The Klezmatics into the mix. It’s unlike anything Cinema Cinema has accomplished in the past at this level. Darriau made an appearance on several of Man Bites Dog tracks but nothing compared to this capacity.
Darriau takes center stage to give his reedist cinematic interpretation which spins the band around on its head. “Radio Ready” is a Frank Zappa moment that explodes in an orgy of obscene musical gestures of exhilarating punk ethos. Not only are you getting hit by a gale force of sax but you are also feeling Ev Gold’s vocal head wind of wails, screams, and scowls.To make a song under two minutes is an anti-jazz thing to do. Yet most of these moments are anti in philosophy.
The rarity comes from the psychedelic post-thirteen minute “Ode To A Gowanus Flower.” Unlike the Lightning Bolt-like anarchy you can find on most of the album, this song is a mind-melting gaze. Not only do you get transformed by the estranged ambient elements, but Darriau’s flutes fills the gap using tones and hues that come in even before the previous note falls off. If Jethro Tull was a psychedelic jam band that listened to a massive amount of Wire, Soft Machine, and Chicago Art Ensemble, I would say that is a starting point of the song’s development. What an aural journey this band takes the listener on.
We feel the sense of anarchy staring down at us. The chaos can be liberating as much as it can warp the senses. Yet in this “entirely improvised” climate, the group are slaves to the machine and this recording either presents a snapshot of this specific moment of an artistic statement or ties them to a blueprint they have to take with them. How they reached this point is uncertain. But what I can conclude is that CCXMD is a momentous push forward for this group.