Henry Kaiser, Damon Smith, Weasel Walter

Plane Crash (ugEXPLODE)

This strange and compelling debut recording by a trio of veteran Bay Area improvisers springboards off an old music-industry concept. Record labels would apparently prepare in advance “beautifully repackaged” records aimed to squeeze the last big bucks from top-selling artists if they happened to bite it unexpectedly (e.g., in a plane crash). The double-edged joke here is that Henry Kaiser, Damon Smith, and Weasel Walter are still very much alive and well, thankfully, and if they did meet untimely ends, no one would make a cent reissuing their work. The hardcore free-improv in which they tend to traffic enjoys a limited, if global, cult appeal. Together they layer irony upon irony, playing as if they were rocking their last gig on Earth. From the first to last notes of this blistering 14-track session, Kaiser blasts a hole in the sky with his electro-bent six-string, which simultaneously sounds like bombs bursting in air and a big ol' jet airliner careening toward a spectacular smash-up. If the guitar in Kaiser's inventive hands is a weapon of rampaging self-destruction, Smith's acoustic bass and Walter's drums are the sympathetic blood and guts of the music, no less urgent in their ferocity, but warmer, more human. This combination of polar elements coalesces into a massive aural assault that will have you praying for a parachute.

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