By Bruno Bridger, Second Year English and Philosophy
Thursday night saw a collaboration between acclaimed sound artist and musician Hieroglyphic Being and Jerzy Mączyński, Polish producer and composer, for a terrific double bill with cult band Goat (jp)
Jamal Moss, otherwise known as Hieroglyphic Being (among other titles) has been releasing strange dance music for a couple decades now. I first became aware of the prolific artist when stumbling across an unofficial re-score of Kenneth Anger’s ground-breaking art film, The Inauguration of The Pleasure Dome (1954) which made liberal use of the at time’s terrifyingly cosmic intelligence of Moss’s sound art, which often moves between 4 x 4 house beats and fractured modular soundscapes.
From then on, having a sprawling discography at my hands, I obsessed over the blips and beeps of a brilliant body of work, seemingly preoccupied with varying modes of Afrofuturism, from the Avant garde Jazz experiments of Sun Ra to the prescient proto-House of Ron Hardy. Moss, a master of collaboration, who in the past has teamed up with such luminaries as Sarathy Korwar and Shabaka Hutchings (both brilliant, singular artists themselves), has now brought us his most recent project, working with Polish Saxophonist and Producer Jerzy Mączyński, an artist similarly preoccupied with the intersection of free-jazz and electronics.
The duo, performing as Universal Harmonies and Frequencies (UHF), did not disappoint in their 40-minute improv set at Strange Brew on Thursday night. Moss, who introduced the performance as simply ‘a teaser for the upcoming album’, which he claimed would be ‘way better’, mixed ambient synths with powerful, circular free-saxophone, interspersed with both field recordings and samples in a manner which seemed to both induce a mass disorientation and deep meditation within the crowd. The brutal extended notes and scales of Jerzy Mączyński acted as a impassioned, pained response to the minimalism, which provided an outlet for a rapturous applause at the improvised conclusion.
Following UHF, Goat (jp) took the stage, a group I was previously unfamiliar with, though this would be a hard task for most, as Goat seem to have a surprisingly small number of songs on streaming services, despite their seemingly large cult following in Europe, which was demonstrated by the lack of remaining merch or vinyl at the gig's conclusion. While still engaging with the minimalism displayed earlier in the evening, Goat provided a structuralist antidote to the free-improv that preceded it.
As a group largely reliant upon the percussive elements of song-structures, as well as some of the tightest musicianship I have possibly ever seen live, Goat conjured sounds both reminiscent of the striking percussive minimalism of Detroit techno, as well as the more acoustic-minded industrial sounds of Swans or Throbbing Gristle to a brutal effect.
The reaction of the crowd seemed to consist purely of yelps and shouts at the devastating snare hits of the two precussionists, that swelled and increased with the intensity of each song. At the conclusion of the set, I left with a new found obsession for Goat, comparable to the excitement I had felt when encountering the strange, beautiful music of Jamal Moss.Featured Image: Bruno Bridger
Have you been to Strange Brew recently?