Info Silver Ash & Pail Bug on Generate Records 
"Generate Records"
compilation album
Generate Records (Gen)
"untitled" by Silver Ash
"Deathless" by Silver Ash
"Berlin Peculiarity" by Pail Bug
"Lifeboat & Intermission live on WFMU June 20, 2011" by Silver Ash

fn issue October 2011
'N-Plants' - Biosphere
'Sky Snails' - The Electric Golem
'Echo Park' - Willamette
'Gramophone Transmissions' - Broken Harbour
'Negative Space' - Blue Sausage Infant
'Home Patterning' - compilation
'Polychromatic Integers' - Richard Lainhart
'Sung In Broken Symmetry' - Aquarelle

A 7” from Brooklyn-based trio Silver Ash arrived on the doorstep of my old residence, and I was fortunate enough to get a call from my landlord to pick up my mail. For this reviewer, vinyl is a treat in these days of EPK’S (electronic press kits) and almost too easy music consumption via the vast resources of the “interwebs.” A quick scan of the cover teased me further. I had never heard of Generate Records, yet I was somewhat familiar with one of Silver Ash's musical leanings. I have seen Casey Block in various psychedelic and electronic drone collaborative projects including an outfit called Mushroom Cloud, as well as as catching his DJ-ed show on East Village Radio.

Spinning the A-side "Deathless" conjurs up a different era. Percussionist Jeff Arnal’s frenetic groove brings to mind German Krautrock super group Can. Spacey feedback swirls against a muffled guitar-riffed funk backdrop courtesy of Aaron Dugan. You can almost smell the opium and see the haze; the jam continues to unwind in slow motion. There is no grand gesture, but a fluid ride through orbit. After 5:30 minutes, I really wished it carried over for at least another 10 in the session, but not to be, alas, due to the time constraints of a vinyl single. Flipside "Lifeboat" takes a decidedly more avant turn. Dissonant electronic or guitar wails, which could be mistaken for sax, ride on top of more angular funk rhythms. Good job Jeff remains steady through the winding chaos as the track grows chaotic and the vertigo sets in. Its Jeff’s drumming that tethers the listener to the mothership till the final moments when the track fades into synthesizer warble.

After researching a bit more about Generate records and finding out that Jeff has his hands in a number of some very intriguing projects, I thought it would it be great to dive a bit deeper and present an additional review of his contribution to a project that will be coming out on Generate mid-November. Jeff has kindly given Furthernoise an exclusive bonus track that will not be on the recording for our listening pleasure.

The recording is of an improv quartet he recently named Pail Bug, comprising Astrid Weins (double bass), John Hughes (double bass), Dietrich Eichmann (piano) and himself on percussion. It was recorded on December 9, 2009 at Vivaldisaal in Berlin Germany in one session. Pail bug is a quite different animal from Silver Ash, and perhaps reveals more about Arnal’s background at Peabody Conservatory and his study under percussionist Milford Graves at Bennington College. Dietrich and Arnal have additional releases out on Leo and Broken Research labels and have been playing for quite a while. There is a centering of focus that occurs in the second track that occurs around Dietrich’s piano technique and Arnal’s uncanny ways of filling in the gaps. Arnal has a canny sense of how to keep up with seemingly complex and chaotic piano motifs without faltering or falling behind and this is one of the highlights of the session. Track 3 (sorry, the release is so Now not all of the titles are worked out yet) sees the quartet explore their chemistry through improv that feels a bit downtown NYC, if that makes sense; think minimal, but a bit more adventurous in idiosyncratic ways to approach extended technique and their instruments' interplay, as opposed to focusing on just drawing out time. Whereas the following track lets Arnal have the spotlight and lead as the three other member follows his lead. It's not just a great example of Arnal’s chops and ability to flavor the flow, but it's evident that the group has an innate sense of where the improv should flow to. If there was any criticism to be made, Pail Bug is almost too good at delivering a balanced improvisation that is creative without the warts of over-experimentation or taking it too far. Musically speaking, a bit of nonsense or just downright stupidity sometimes is cathartic but it depends on what you like in your tea, I suppose.

As mentioned earlier, the Pail Bug track associated with the review is an exclusive bonus track from the same Berlin sessions in 2009 and it shows a looser free-jazz take on Pail Bug’s improv with a great example of Dietrich’s piano contributions to the group. Those that want to explore excellent no-holds-barred rock-noise experimentation meets No Wave (think Mouthus) should check out a trio called Aperiodic.

Review by Derek Morton


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