CD review

Blueblut (Mark Holub, Pamelia Stickney, Chris Janka) – ‘Andenborstengürteltier’

Blueblut – Andenborstengürteltier
(Plag Dich Nicht PDN 041. Vinyl, CD and digital. Review by AJ Dehany)

The mischief, marvel and mirth of Mark Holub are the mainstay of every show he plays as drummer-bandleader with his main band Led Bib. Since he moved to Vienna he’s been playing more widely, even in free contexts with players like violinist Irene Kepl. The trio Blueblut allies his jazz-rock backbeats and time signature leaps with Pamelia Stickney’s versatile theremin and the innovative Heath Robinsonian automata and attacking play of guitarist Chris Janka

Blueblut’s third album Andenborstengürteltier (German for the Andean hairy armadillo/ chaetophractus nationi) has just been shortlisted for the German Record Critics’ Award (Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik) quarterly critic’s choice list (Bestenliste) in the cross-genre (Grenzgänge) category. Fans of John Zorn and Marc Ribot or of anyone with a penchant for noisy guitar and chaotic and constant sudden direction changes, will almost certainly get off on its bravura madness, from the math rock operations of s’Vogel to the crazy machine work of Woodhorser, Yiddish prog of Red Zep and the live freakout of Mijazki.

Mostly the melodies come from Pamelia Stickney on theremin. Theremin is one of the most versatile instruments imaginable; almost uncontrollable via fine movements of the fingers and body, but creating electronic outputs from simple sine waves to vast installation noise avalanches. Often, particularly on the live-recorded second half of the album, the groove is looped, with Jenka playing jerky rhythmical guitar parts alongside the wacky theremin toplines. Detunada works through that M-Base framing where there’s a circular bassline that’s not necessarily same time signature as the drums and everything seems to go in and out of phase while somehow retaining a sense of decisive unity, which is a hallmark of the trio. 

There’s a lovely and fantastic concrete poetry to the album title and motif Andenborstengürteltier. They were watching an old John Ford film with the German-English translator and it struck them and just stuck. It amused them. It’s amusing, and so is the album. It follows on perfectly from the first two albums, Butt Butt and Hurts So Gut. It’s worth listening to them all back-to-back to get a sense of how they set out their stall with manic sound art and natural chops, gaining and gathering the confidence to do silly-serious things like the album’s climactic anti-epic, their radical and racy reworking of the Ode To Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth, reinvented as Buttoven: a pitiless and surely unprovoked attack on the Anthem of the European Union that can only come from a position of love, an ideal mashup of mischief, marvel and mirth. 

AJ Dehany writes independently about music, art and stuff – LINK

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