Genre: Experimental / Avant-garde / Free Jazz
A3) Temple of Solomon / Ouroboros
B1) La Societe du Spectacle
Loco_motive is an avant-garde free jazz project that has literally been operating under the radar for nearly a decade now, releasing their entire discography over these years on ARZ Records. This Finnish duo has released 3 CD-R’s (“Ignoto Deo”, “Lamentation”, and “Through the Nothingness”), one CD (“Orthodoxing the Heterodox”), and now this, their first LP, simply entitled “Si”. Their albums take up the bulk of ARZ Records’ discography and thus signals the fact that they almost assuredly are also the people behind the label. The musicians behind the project are simply known as Mayo-Stripe and Ku-ku-gu, the former of which operated prior to this project under the moniker Ohut Majoneesijuova. This release specifically features three additional musicians in Juki Pajuvirta, Sanna Tanninen (whom also does saxaphone and vocals for Break a Leg Entertainment’s ska band “Goon”), and Pete Repo (of punk project “Väärät Vieraat”).
Through Loco_motive’s past, they have experimented with different sounds with every release. While this album, “Si”, takes on a jazzy approach, they have been known to play music that ranges from Eastern-based melodies to esoteric electronic weirdness and haunting yet minimally playful ambiance. Themes play a very active role in this album, with the defining presence being obviously listed in the track title. “Theses on the Situationist International and Its Time” by Guy Debord and Gianfranco Sanguinetti, as well as the entire Situationist International movement obviously played a big part in the inspiration behind this effort, as is seen by both the presence of the track “La Societe du Spectacle” – which a book of the same name was written by Guy Debord — and the overall French theme on the second side of the LP. This movement was made up of Marxists and European avant-garde artists whom developed several experimental intellectual fields of study including psychogeography, a theme present in track 2, and unitary urbanism, a short-lived movement that is practiced today openly only by evoL Psychogeographix. The subject matter is far too in-depth to fully cover in this review, but the important part of this philosophy to remember is that the leaders behind this movement viewed capitalism as a means to degrade human life, and which was masked by the term Guy Debord coined as “the spectacle” — which is defined roughly as mass media, advanced capitalism, and the governments that endorse these aspects of the post-modern world. The chaos and urban confusion of which is perfectly mirrored through the free jazz style represented in “Si”.
An attempt to review this album is as difficult as any attempt to recreate the freak-out free jazz music that is featured on “Si” would be. It’s obvious that the music attempts to create and capture simultaneously the chaos that ensues in the post-modern world through its music, especially in the opening track “Decomposition”. The music wastes no time blasting off with a rather cliche saxophone-heavy blast of melody and percussion — a duo that, in its own right, is frantic enough before the moments of epic collapse into near-psychedelic tripped-out moments. Psychogeography chills out the mood and brings about a more abstract electronic flavor to the music, intentionally shadowing the definition of the word itself, both in its meaning as a specific study, and as a philosophy of urban exploration. The track eventually fades back into the original free jazz sound as the percussion kicks the frantic pace back into gear. Temple of Solomon / Ouroboros takes us full circle, incorporating elements of both tracks and operating on a largely more experimental scale with electronic high-end blips and a horn-based celebration in the background of the track creating the unique character of the music. Eventually, side A ends in calm, with the strange squeaky wheel and building buzz/fuzz sounds taking over as an ambient end. The strange coming of night as the moon rises over the human dystopia represented on the album.
Side B opens up in a darker place with “La Societe du Spectacle” — an atmosphere that hints at the presence of those dark souls who hide behind the veils of the dystopia. A dark ambient track with subtle influences from noise, La Societe du Spectacle acts as a catalyst for the entire work. A momentary but necessary glimpse into a side of the present theme that is otherwise lost in the world around us. Recuperation takes us into more of a walking-pace tempo, bringing back a laid back jazz-based atmosphere that is again dominated by saxophone and percussion, but less chaotic than anything on Side A — that is with the exception of two slight ‘freak out’ moments towards the middle and end of the track.
To put it bluntly, this LP will can be as simple as an enjoyable piece of jazzy experimentalism, or it can take you into a complex sphere of philosophical thought and study. The playfully dark album cover doesn’t seem to suggest the theme behind the music, but what is presumed here is far more than dark / esoteric textures. This is music for the philosophical and intellectual mind. The primary problem with the release is that at points it borders on being too cliche to the point that it seems insincere, almost like a parody of the drug-infused reality from the mind of William s. Burroughs, with the more experimental moments taking us to the bizarre ‘interzone’ that is found in “The Naked Lunch.” The labels insists that the album has a “situationalistic theme but in (sic) an ingenious way”, but the music, again, comes off as less inventive than that which is implied for the first half of the album. Side B obviously takes “Si” to a new level, but the fact that half of the album is more or less constrained within the walls of prosaic-ism, it’s difficult to give “Si” a high rating.