Attribute: Assassin

“Jazz Fission did more than melt the hierarchies which jazz tradition works so hard to maintain. As the cyclotron that produced mutant matter and polyrhythmic psychedelics, it triggered a post-jazz universe. The dates for the assassination of jazz are numerous and all its assassins have long since stepped forward: Coltrane, Ornette, Ra, Miles. Unlike the Art Ensemble’s declaration of jazz as ‘Great Black Music’, Futurhythmic Fission treats the Tradition as effects, inputs to be fed into its giant Connection Machine.

Liquefying everything generates a confusion that quickly calcifies, into orthodoxy on one hand and into near-total amnesia on the other. Both responses were accelerated by the engineer-musicians themselves, who, dispirited and drained by poor sales, switched from fission to fusion and disparaged the Afrodelic era as a rash experiment, a failure.


Anachronic Cybernetics of the World: George Russell

“The 2 versions of composer George Russell’s Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature, from ’68 and ‘8o, are auditions of jazz augmented for the unknown hazards of inner space. In the Cybernetic Age, jazz must move through the centre of the cyclone, implode and be reassembled as electromagnetic dub. Instead of invoking jazz as an art, a beautiful soul which defies the military industrial complex, Russell technologizes jazz until it becomes an art-industrial complex: ‘The tape was prepared at the Electronic Music Studios of the Swedish Radio Ensemble on a huge computer. It is meant to suggest that man, in the face of encroaching technology, must confront technology and attempt to humanize it, to explore inner, as well as outer space.


“For Russell, the Electronic Sonata is a global music, a ‘panstylistic electronic tape; a tape composed of fragments of many different styles of music, avant-garde jazz, ragas, blues, rock, serial music etc, treated electronically… a palate upon which non electronic musical statements of a panstylistic nature could be projected.’ This convergence of collages turns the Electronic Sonata into a mixillogical machine: the fleeting friction of timbral incongruities, incompatible sound blocs rubbing against each other. Blurring the realtime , tape distinction creates a fictional sonata of impossible music. The collage of heavy rock, Indian ragas and Moroccan voices is processed into an electromagnetic mirror mix, then looped into tapes which Terje Rypdal slashes at with guitar and Jan Garbarek corrodes with astringent tenor sax.

“Tape , electronic treatments , live musics = Texturological Stratusphunk: ‘There are three people playing at once on that tape but the tape is so integrated with the other electronic material it’s hard to distinguish what’s what.’ Electronic mirages descend in palls, shrouding the outlines of sound in amorphous reefs of fog through which midrange attacks surge.

Journey to the Centre of the Head

“Unlike Holger Czukay’s shortwave or Lee Perry’s tv sampling, Russell’s electromagnetic forcefield falls in a haze as indefinite as a neuromantic sky tuned to the colour of dead tv. The vapourdrift of tapehiss seeps through the jagged guitar signals and sax tones, derealizing the borders between live and synthetic noise, and unreal and real time, into colourfields that flipflop at the periphery of perception.

“Listening to the Electronic Sonata, Events i-XIV is like growing a 3rd Ear. The perpetual palimpsest of impossible events demands a new neuromuscular interface. You become a human Oncomouse, ear sprouting from your neck in a fleshy umbrella.”

Kodwo Eshun, “World 4: Mutantextures of Jazz”, More Brilliant Than The Sub: Adventures in Sonic Fiction. London: Quartet Books, 1998. pp 01[002]-01-[004].


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