Eric Lumbleau 04-November-2001 Live In Tokyo

My previous exposure to ex-Henry Cow drummer Chris Cutler's Cassiber project begins and ends with their exceptional first LP, 1982's Man Or Monkey. Even on that album though, they seemed a strangely oil and water affair, with vocalist Christoph Anders' (ex of German no-wavers Toto Lotto) emphatic, declamatory pronouncements providing a peculiar, uneasy foil for the mischievous, playful and weirdly affecting art-damaged art rock improvisations they embroidered.

For those previously unacquainted with Cassiber's weltanschauung, the choppy digital textures and oft-awkward sampler based sound bursts which now flank Anders' sprechtstimme in the course of these semi-structured improvisations (recorded just prior to their break-up in 1992) will yield far less immediate pleasures than their debut.

More redolent of bile and petrol than oil and water, this disc resists any sort of casual perusal. However, with persistence, the characteristics that might initially strike one as off-putting can attain a strangely compelling aura. On "Come On! Start The Show!," Anders' increasingly hysteria-tinged vocalizing goads guest saxophonist Shinoda Masami into inspired flurries of alto-action through which Heiner Goebbels interjects cool-jazz cut-ups to confounding effect. Things only get more franticly fucked with "Prometheus," where Cutler's nimble percussion scuttles around Goebbels tense electronic scrim, only to repeatedly lurch into implosions of sense-deranging cut-ups and strident yelping. Damn curious stuff.

The final document of Japan's Ground Zero, a scrambled remix of the Cassiber material that encompasses the second disc is, unfortunately a total wash, being neither a coherent statement in and of itself, nor a meaningful reorientation of the material into any new framework. It merely sounds scattershot. Nonetheless, a worthwhile release for the difficult music aficionado.

(Originally published in Alternative Press #127, p.60; reprinted by permission)

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