Tuesday, 23 May 2017

To you from Willard's Wormholes: ART JACKSON'S ATROCITY Live In Europe (1975)


The long-lost second LP from Art Jackson's Atrocity. Recorded live in Germany, just months after Gout (the band's 1974 debut album for Columbia Records) was shelved, deemed unsellable by the label's corporate hierarchy. Turning down a January, 1975 invitation to support Miles Davis in Tokyo, The Atrocity decided instead to blitzkrieg Germany, finding a receptive audience for their incendiary style of improvisational jazz/noise/rock. 


First issued as an independent LP in St. Louis, circa 1975, Live In Europe is the only known live document of Art Jackson's Atrocity - though… all of the Atrocity's work was recorded live as it happened. Live In Europe, however, captures the frenetic energy that can only be found in a live setting, as artist and audience face off for an anticipatory clash of unknown expectations and improvisational possibilities. The enthusiastic response from the jazz-hungry Germans in both Düsseldorf and Berlin provides an exhilarating backdrop to The Atrocity's only overseas performances. 

Now, for the first time in 42 years, a new generation of listeners have the opportunity to hear the musical madness of a close-knit collective of anti-social misfits with no corporate goals. What might have been... had label indifference, drug abuse and multiple incarcerations not derailed one of the 1970's more unpredictable forebears of a futuristic musical dystopia few were willing to believe could possibly exist.

LIVE IN EUROPE (1975)

SIDE 1
#31994 (4:22)
The Continuum (4:55)
Death Train To Nuremberg (4:06)

SIDE 2
Birds On Fire (7:59)
Birds On Fire, Part 2 (11:14)

Art Jackson: guitar 
Artis Killins: bass, vox 
Pharaoh Keyes: keyboards 
Pete Jay: guitar, percussion 
Eric Gaye: saxophone, clarinet 
Joseph Mix: saxophone, flute, effects 
Kurtis Snider: drums


#31994 (4:22)
"#31994" was the opening number whenever Art Jackson's Atrocity performed live during the mid-'70's. One of the group's few structured "compositions," it’s a brazen slice of hard bop jazz, filtered through an apocalyptic drug haze, and anchored by Art Jackson’s mutated guitar lines. The then 22-year-old anti-guitarist echoes the saxophone's signature riff, before breaking out a short, maniacal solo that defies explanation. Part barbed wire tension, part angular noise, and sounding not unlike he’s pulling the strings off his guitar. The response to the group's explosive introduction to European audiences, however, was instantaneous and unanimous... a testament to the Atrocity's sheer power in performance. Not long after this 1975 recording, both Jackson and bassist Artis Killins would be incarcerated in Stockholm for heroin possession, putting an end to the Atrocity's European tour, and inspiring the independently released 1975 LP's front cover art.

THE CONTINUUM (4:55)
A uniquely subdued, druggy anti-drug track, featuring the unlikely duet of Art Jackson's spacey psych guitar explorations and Eric Gaye's wandering clarinet improvisations. Bassist Artis Killins greets the audience with a call-to-arms... to join together and combat the scourge of Angel Dust. Not so ironically, the band's drug of choice. But the intro-ending laughter and the music that follows is a clear repudiation of that notion, as The Atrocity bass-walks into a psychedelic mist of intertwining improv, featuring another uniquely bizarre Jackson guitar solo… one with little contemporary precedent in the 1970's.

DEATH TRAIN TO NUREMBERG (4:06)
A balls-out, free-form, demolition derby of instrumentation that's solemnly punctuated by the ghostly, atmospheric effects of German transport trains. A crashing, chaotic collision of sound whose theme confronts the Deutschland head on... on its own turf. The master tape of the original 1975 LP accidentally cut off the last 20 seconds of this recording (as does this reissue), so we don't get a chance to hear the audience response to this repudiation of Germany's past, though "#31994" and side two's "Birds On Fire" suite were both enthusiastically received by the same German crowd.

BIRDS ON FIRE (7:59)
BIRDS ON FIRE, PART 2 (11:14)
"Birds On Fire" and "Birds On Fire, Part 2" may have gotten their names, in part, from Mahavishnu Orchestra's "Birds Of Fire," but each tracks' auspicious characteristic is Art Jackson's unhinged, feedback-laden guitar work, which punctuates both halves of this two-part suite. That and the frantic, schitzo co-soloing from Atrocity keyboardist, Pharaoh Keyes, whose keyboard work is astounding. These performances pull out each and every possible stop, as The Atrocity careens from swing-driven bastard-jazz to hard-blowin' free-form noisemaking, all tempered by dizzying shifts in tone and tenor. Together, the two performances are tour de force examples of the avant-jazz that was typical of Art Jackson's Atrocity's live, brutal and raw audacity.

Link: Art Jackson

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Background info
http://werelateforclass.blogspot.com/2016/03/71-art-jacksons-atrocity-gout-2016.html


To you from Willard's Wormholes by ChrisGoesRock

4 comments:

rev.b said...

Thanks for this. Do you know what happened with Willard? He disappeared a few weeks back w/o a trace.

Anonymous said...

You realise this is NOT actually from the 70s don't you? The link you gave for 'background info' clearly explains that the so-called history was made up. No matter though, the music slays, just don't believe the fake back-story.

We're Late For Class said...

Can't thank you enough for this, Chris. Willard retired.

mad as a box of frogs said...

did he jump or was he pushed?