Ghosts of the Holy Ghost Spermic Brotherhood

Ghosts of the Holy Ghost Spermic Brotherhood
No Label No #

By Ken Waxman

Part of the history of sounds since the early 20th century has been the gradual redefinition of what was deemed “noise” as “music”. Like urban hipsters yearning to return to a bucolic, rural retreat, the Ghosts of the Holy Ghost Spermic Brotherhood (GOTHGSB) appear earnest in reclaiming noise for its own sake. On this, its second CD, the three inhabit that sphere where echoes of the Italian Futurists, whose 1913 manifestos praising machines and violence set the stage for most electronic and industrial music, brush up against a sardonic variant of nihilist black metal.

Humor shouldn’t be discounted either. With reed cries like the death throes of wild animals, incessant and nearly opaque electronic washes and irregularly pulsed and emphasized drum patterns OTHGSB members – saxophonist Andy Haas and drum and object smackers Michael Evans and David Grollman – define themselves as prototypical under-underground experimenters. But like bohemian poets who were once ad copywriters, they’ve performed enough in more conventional surroundings to add a modicum of logical connections to their improvisations. Plus they have enough pop culture smarts to mockingly name each of the eight tunes on this 29-minute CD for one celebrity or another. Care to guess who is saluted on tracks entitled “for Katy P.”, “for Jennifer L.” or “for Kayne W.”?

Instructively, despite the predilection towards unbridled commotion, those tunes which appear most focused are those in which the instrumental stratagems of free jazz are occasionally visible like raisins in a rice pudding. The musique concrète murk of “for Justin B.” for instance is pierced by single tone echoes that could come from Keith Rowe’s table-top guitar maneuvers, while Haas’ acrid screech that gains strength within a slowly collating signal processing drone could come from the saxophone of Arthur Doyle or Albert Ayler. The most balanced track, “for Pee Wee H.” does the near impossible, surrounding the understated, rasped and rubbed processed timbres with mumbled voices, unhinged saxophone cries and kitchen utensil-like bounces so that it’s transformed into a tempo-accelerating narrative which actually attains a groove.

One of those CDs definitely not to everyone’s tastes, it’s still likely to interest committed sound explorers.

Tracks: for Katy P.; for Pee Wee H.; for Justin B.; or Lady G.; for Kanye W.; for Taylor S.; for Jennifer L.; for Donna B.

Personnel: Andy Haas: alto saxophone and electronics; Michael Evans: snare drum, objects, electronics, vocals; David Grollman: snare drum, objects, plastic pipe, balloon, vocals

—For The New York City Jazz Record September 2016