Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The Danglers - Decade 1 1999-2009 review

Originating in Milwaukee in 1997, The Danglers are that strangest of beasts that academically should not, on paper, work cohesively. Featuring Jason Loveall on violin and vocals, John Sparrow on drums and percussion and David Gelting on contrabass and vocal, they successfully combine the attitude of punk, the bravado of metal, the virtues of classical, “avant garde”, jazz and, somehow, passages of extended improvisation. As an illustration of how much respect they command amongst their peers, they have shared the stage with members of the Allman Brothers and King Crimson. Listen to the chord progressions and use of instrumentation on tracks such as “Blacklava” and there is no need to wonder why they have been associated with the likes of King Crimson. On tracks such as “Ascend” however, any such comparison seems meaningless, through the onslaught of garage band production and demented violin soloing.

Further on through “Decade” the listener can listen to “Resolute”, an acid drenched 4 minutes of spaced out, psychedelic rock, supplemented with sound effects and dissonant landscapes more suited to any number of Hawkwind albums. Again, “Winter Sheets” is mournful in pace, but is loaded with enigma and a sense of unease, and is augmented with passages of raucous electronica which rather than distracting from the mood only goes to enhance it. “Sundays Son” is a short spoken piece over the abstract background of a myriad of indefinable instruments, whilst “Intermission Music” could have been lifted directly from an album by the Mothers of Invention.

So many direct comparisons may seem unfair and slightly reductionist, but there is no easy way to describe the many ingredients that go to make up the sound of a Danglers album. That such a glorious combination of styles and references can emanate from three musicians is remarkable in itself, and is due in part, to the alchemy between the artists throughout; an almost intuitive wisdom that is honed in performing improvised music.  A voyage through an album of The Danglers music is a journey through the history of the key acts in the development of progressive and experimental music.

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