The Crystal Cocks – Reh. Demo 2011 (C10, Jersey Flesh)

The Crystal Cocks is a free jazz band consisting of Jake Vreeland, the owner of the Jersey Flesh label. The Reh. Demo 2011 is short, with two sides clocking in at just five minutes apiece, but there’s a ton of saxophone mumbling and drum madness on here to constitute an entire album. The package comes with a nice black and white J-card with a picture of a greyscale woman with her tits hanging out of her shirt. The tape has a grey sticker with “The C.C.” printed on it.

The first side of the track features a fairly steady smattering of saxophone sounds punctuated by an incredible amount of drums behind it. Whoever is hitting those skins (and cymbals and metal and whatever else is back there) is really going all out, with a frenetic energy that drives the first side. The saxophone sound, however, never comes into its own, very much wavering at the outside edges of the track with trills and elongated notes that fail to mimic the energy of the drums. Towards the end of the track, the sax and drums drop out for a wall of white noise that, while effective from a harsh noise wall standpoint, seems strange and tacky following the all out percussion of the previous rhythm-less improv-fest.

Now here’s where things get stranger. Side B of the cassette starts out with silence that runs about halfway through the side. Whether this is an issue with the cassette transfer or a purposeful thing done by the Crystal Cocks, I’m not sure. But it does certainly make for an annoying time when the listener must sit through the silence John Cage-style or fast-forward through it. When the noise finally does kick in, we’re treated to another fast-paced movement of drums with a more nuanced saxophone. The junk metal and electronics tend to give the drums a messier sound that I really like, and despite the  break between the track I’d say this is the better side of the tape in regards to noisiness, musicianship, and free jazz.

Reh. Demo 2011 is an interesting first release from this band. The musicianship is promising; however, if the scrap metal/HNW thing really is an important part of the band’s persona, I’d like to see that incorporated more than just throwing it on the end of a track.

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