Monday, August 3, 2020
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Lean Left: Medemer

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Artist: Lean Left
Title: Medemer
Format: CD + Download
Label: PNL Records
Medemer was recorded live at a concert (remember them?) in September 2018, though casual listeners might guess it had dropped through a wormhole from the 1970s.
The quartet of Terrie Ex and Andy Moor on left guitar and right guitar, plus Ken Vandermark on saxophone and clarinet and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums, jamming live and publicly, is very much a work of avantgarde prog rock and post-rock. Other aspects of the package- from the slightly grungy recording quality on the guitars and more chaotic moments, to the paint print style of the artwork- back up this impression as well. The saxophone, in its predominant moments such as in the middle of part 2, feels like a guest appearance of experimental jazz, but its not anachronistic.
It shares that long indulgent approach too- theres no time for brevity. Its labelled as six numbered parts, all over eight minutes long, one almost nineteen minutes long, but all of them were potentially divisible into much smaller scenes and the 73-minute work could easily have been split into over 30 parts if theyd felt inclined. The entire work feels driven by spontaneous impulse.
Its a diverse conversation between four musicians and at times its metered, rumbling and sparse (towards the end of Part 1 an example), with strong elements of disquiet or dischord (the opening of parts 3 or 6). Then at other times its noisy, confrontational and argumentative. Sometimes its got more than a shade of the funk- the latter half of part 4 being decidedly groovy, whether it likes it or not. And sometimes the wig-out is sheer musical adrenaline kicking in, such as the end of parts 2 and part 5, a frantic performance workout that elicits cheers from the audience as much praising the exercise level as the music itself.
Its old-fashioned yet still avantgarde, and Im sure it wouldve been a fantastic concert to be at. The translation into a recorded work leaves me feeling just a touch cold and disconnected though, and despite this releases clear energy and undeniable virtuosity, I wasnt fully sold on it.Medemer was recorded live at a concert (remember them?) in September 2018, though casual listeners might guess it had dropped through a wormhole from the 1970s. The quartet of Terrie Ex and Andy Moor on left guitar and right guitar, plus Ken Vandermark on saxophone and clarinet and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums, jamming live and publicly, is very much a work of avantgarde prog rock and post-rock. Other aspects of the package- from the slightly grungy recording quality on the guitars and more chaotic moments, to the paint print style of the artwork- back up this impression as well. The saxophone, in its predominant moments such as in the middle of part 2, feels like a guest appearance of experimental jazz, but its not anachronistic. It shares that long indulgent approach too- theres no time for brevity. Its labelled as six numbered parts, all over eight minutes long, one almost nineteen minutes long, but all of them were potentially divisible into much smaller scenes and the 73-minute work could easily have been split into over 30 parts if theyd felt inclined. The entire work feels driven by spontaneous impulse. Its a diverse conversation between four musicians and at times its metered, rumbling and sparse (towards the end of Part 1 an example), with strong elements of disquiet or dischord (the opening of parts 3 or 6). Then at other times its noisy, confrontational and argumentative. Sometimes its got more than a shade of the funk- the latter half of part 4 being decidedly groovy, whether it likes it or not. And sometimes the wig-out is sheer musical adrenaline kicking in, such as the end of parts 2 and part 5, a frantic performance workout that elicits cheers from the audience as much praising the exercise level as the music itself. Its old-fashioned yet still avantgarde, and Im sure it wouldve been a fantastic concert to be at. The translation into a recorded work leaves me feeling just a touch cold and disconnected though, and despite this releases clear energy and undeniable virtuosity, I wasnt fully sold on it.

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