For the sheer amount of mental side trips the Hushroom Records release of Brekekekexkoaxkoax’s “We Used To Be Such Good Friends” is taking me on, I have to say that they’ve done an admirable job of fitting it all onto one disc. Truthfully, I expect some sort of brain batter to come oozing from the edges, necessitating one of those cartoon pancake-trimming manuvers involving a butter knife. Let’s review the pieces, because I need to step back:
I have the album title, which isn’t immediately making any sense to me. The “Hail Mary” interpretation is that “we” refers to the performer and the music itself; specifically, that transitory level improvisors reach when sounds are channeled from who-knows-where. The liner notes include Jacques Derrida quotes to this effect as well: “It’s not as though I created it myself. I never have the feeling that it’s me.”
Then I find some items stuffed in the jewel case, a little color peeking through the hub. A small transparency with an Olmec head? A list of items “sheets? butcher paper? cheese cloth?” from dancer Mari Akita; and a small xeroxed photo. What’s it all add up to? I may be wrong– my tendency is to approach these things as integral parts of an artistic whole– but perhaps not unlike the Brekekekexkoaxkoax name (a “startling moniker” ha ha) its just a lot of pieces put together that don’t add up to anything but a longer piece.
At least this isn’t an issue here musically. Showing an incredible amount of restraint, the ensemble creates two uniquely detailed constructs from organ, guitar, clarinet, electronics, a computer, and drums. Starting with the initially timid “Haifa Hi-Fi”, listeners are treated to a variety of unexpected small sounds. I am very impressed by the time this piece is allowed to develop– shifting over nearly 30 minutes to include bursts of rocky clatter, long tones, scraped strings, and shining horn sounds.
The other two works are solo pieces for Austinnitus editor Josh Ronsen, whose brilliance and intellectual curiosity are the overflowing batter I referred to earlier. I’ve never met the guy, but I know the type– interested in way too many things, multiple projects on the boiler, very excited about what he’s doing. Check an online edition of his zine “Monk Mink Pink Punk,” if you don’t believe me. Yes, he does translate acousmatic composer Iancu Dumitrescu from a French interview for issue seven! Actually, he does it twice…
I’m sorry. This is why I shouldn’t write on three hours of sleep. I end up focusing overmuch on the playful organ interruptions of the third track, “Tuesday on Sunday.” Here it goes again, honking itself into and out of musical existence. Honk, honk, honk. When was the last time you found an album of improvisational music that was not only beautiful, but fun enough to make you smile?