The Mahavishnu Orchestra with John McLaughlin – The Inner Mounting Flame

Jazz Fusion, Jazz-Rock

★½

This flame is flickering – it mounts, but doesn’t amount. The Mahavishnu Orchestra’s best-known record is impeccably performed but shows little emotional depth. “Dawn” is the best tune; “Awakening” starts with a thrilling, driving rhythm – the rest of the songs are dull displays of technical prowess. “A Lotus on Irish Streams” is the token mood piece, and even it’s infected by relentless wankery.

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Godspeed You! Black Emperor – “Luciferian Towers”

Post-Rock

★★

GY!BE have plunged into the chasm of civility, a death knell for a band that once built the cutting edges. The airy drones and ample flotations of “Luciferian Towers” are perfectly reasonable, even pleasant – but they lack danger and uncertainty. The tunes are straightforward, sample-less, and fine, but they don’t provide much impetus for listening ahead of the band’s prior, exceptional work.

The Golden Palominos – The Golden Palominos

Experimental Rock, No Wave, Post-Punk

Repetitive and annoying rhythmic gyrations that are purportedly the result of an attempt to combine hip-hop and jazz. Arto Lindsay’s vocals are characteristically engaging – and that’s about the only kind word I have for this. Even when the band delivers an interesting groove (“Under the Cap”), they protract it to the point of head-hammering boredom.

God Is My Co-Pilot – Speed Yr. Trip

Art Punk, Experimental Rock, Queercore

★★★½

This is a record that was well ahead of its time, addressing the arbitrary gender binary in 1992 and dismantling the co-opted ‘punk’ ethos via dizzying, unconventional song structures and arrangements. There’s a little Captain Beefheart in the proceedings, as Sharon Topper shouts atop the whirlwind instrumentation. While flawed – there’s not enough variation to keep the songs consistently interesting – Speed Yr. Trip understands what ‘punk’ really is and, to that end, presents an uncompromising vision.

God – Possession

Experimental Rock, Industrial, Industrial Rock

★★★★

Possession crushes listeners beneath pounding, repetitive rhythms comprised of mountainous drums, thick guitars, and – idiosyncratically – jazzy alto saxophone courtesy of John Zorn. The record’s bludgeoning, soulless attack is reminiscent of Godflesh, though the experimental underpinnings distinguish it. “Black Jesus”, a noisy, haunting atmospheric piece, exemplifies this, as do the assorted free jazz influences.

Alexander von Schlippenbach Trio – Pakistani Pomade

European Free Jazz

★★★★★

One of the greatest free jazz records of all time, Pakistani Pomade is a consummate demonstration of airtight improvised musicianship and bold, fearless choices. While the music is chaotic, the trio (piano, saxophone, drums) leave space for one another to operate, resulting in engrossing pieces of whirlwind-like velocity with room to breathe. Indeed, compared to the likes of Brötzmann’s Machine Gun or Burrell’s “Echo”, Pakistani Pomade is an accessible listen; however, the power and unexpectedness of the music is paramount, and no one will ever mistake it for pop.

Buckethead – Pike 23: Telescape

Experimental Rock, Guitar Virtuoso

★½

A couple of good riffs in “Between Sea and Sky” and some fun effects on “Launch Pad” can’t save this Pike from the series’ bottom dredges. Stylistically, Buckethead opts for distorted alt metal riffs with occasional effect overdubs and programmed drums; indeed, though the cover and song titles imply something space-themed, the tracks are basically by-the-numbers. Worst of all, the two-part title track, which comprises more than half of the album’s runtime, is a bore.

BEST SONG: “Launch Pad”