Review : Acoustic Ladyland - Living With A Tiger
DrownedinsoundSeb Rochford’s afro seems to defy the laws of physics. If you’ve ever listened to the drumming on any of his numerous projects, the image that springs to mind is of Animal (of Muppets fame) – all blood and sweat, flailing hands and hair. I’ve never seen him perform with Acoustic Ladyland, but certainly when playing with Polar Bear the reality couldn’t be more different. Live he exudes a Zen-like calm: even as his arms fly across the kit and produce patterns impossible to decipher, his head remains motionless aside from the odd nod, mass of hair buoyant in the air above, like still pedals on a freewheeling bicycle. It seems inconceivable that anything could rattle this aura – indeed, I suspect, even after listening to Living With A Tiger, that he probably looks as unshakeable hammering chaotic punk fills as teasing out subtle jazz licks.
Acoustic Ladyland’s latest is the next step in a series of records that has taken them progressively further from their roots as a jazz band, insofar as the J-word can be used to describe what they do. From the squalling fuzz of their breakthrough, 2005’s Last Chance Disco, through third long-player Skinny Grin’s fusion of foreboding atmospherics and guest vocals, there has always been a certain willingness to mix things up and incorporate ideas from diverse areas and genres. In particular, the common thread throughout all of Rochford’s projects has been a devotion to the freedom of punk rock, an element brought further to the fore on Living With A Tiger with a reshuffling of members and recruitment of a full-time guitarist. Initially this seems suggestive that the band have adopted a simpler, back-to-basics aesthetic: opener ‘Sport Mode’ is not a million miles from Funhouse-era Stooges, Pete Wareham’s saxophone leaping octaves over a frenzied garage-rock workout, and the devotional ‘Glasto’ toys with Sonic Youth-ish dissonance before a low-slung bassline propels it to full throttle....full text
GuardianRinpoche's Tibetan Buddhist classic Taming the Tiger. The book is about learning to live with one's mind so no wonder it appeals to saxophonist Pete Wareham - the focal point of Acoustic Ladyland along with big-haired drummer Seb Rochford - because being a jazz musician in this country is enough to do anybody's head in. Everyone's told to hate jazz. Even the Guardian recently gently cautioned: "Avoid modern jazz: any jazz later than 1955 is guaranteed to give you a headache." So who's going to admit being a jazzer these days? Not Acoustic Ladyland: "Nah, mate, this ain't jazz, this is rock."...full text
YahooAny jazz musicians out there that want to pay the rent could do worse than somehow banning the word "jazz" from ever being used to describe their output. To group together the kind of sh*t that pours out of Hilton Hotel bars and part-improvised sonic ingenuity under the same century-old term is obviously insane. But, as the music industry is only capable of generating interest in about one new jazz arrival every two years, it's also financially ruinous to any remotely progressive or interesting players. These exciting bands are confined to special interest markets and occasionally touted by the media as post-jazz or jazz-punk or something even more nauseating in a bid to make people care.
Acoustic Ladyland are one such band and part of London's F-IRE Collective, a tight network of players and label which was bought a valuable moment in the spotlight by Polar Bear's 2005 Mercury Prize nomination and the huge afro of Seb Rochford, the (ace) drummer for both bands. They continue a line of musical enquiry (what happens when freeform jazz gets freaky with rock'n'roll?) that's been responsible for The Stooges' "Funhouse", the breathtaking music of downtown New York around 1980 and some admittedly dodgy bits in David Bowie's "Aladdin Sane".
The presence of their initial inspiration (that's The Jimi Hendrix Experience, as you might have guessed from the name) is still felt but this, their fourth offering, is more upbeat than its noir-ish synth and fuzz-addled predecessor, "Skinny Grin", the band reverting, a touch disappointingly, to the fried instrumentals of "Last Chance Disco". For the most part however, Pete Wareham's saxophone lines, sourced from rock vocals and his wife's poetry and wound garishly around Chris Sharkey's screaming guitar work, more than make up for the lack of sung melodies....full text
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