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December 1997

William Hooker
Mindfulness
Knitting Factory

Drummer William Hooker is a lifelong iconoclast. From the late-'70s N.Y.C. loft scene jams to his '90s collaborations with Billy Bang, Zeena Parkins and Sonic Youthers Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo, Hooker has ceaselessly expanded not only the vocabulary of his instrument, he's defied rigid categories by breaking down genres into universal music expression-in short, he has the mad chops and humanistic empathy to play with any musician on the planet.

Hooker's latest recording, Mindfulness, is a brilliant audio-diorama of electric cathedrals, humpback whales, magic cities, brass satyrs, heavy metal wind chimes rendered in layers of whack colors, subtle shades and stillness. A live set recorded at San Francisco's Slim's, Mindfulness finds the drummer in mayhem overdrive. Assisting him in wreaking the carnage to come are Glenn Spearman on (mostly) tenor and "illibient" pioneer DJ Olive on the wheels of steel. Five distinct Hooker compositions are performed, yet they flow into each other seamlessly like rushing tributaries emptying into one snaking, thrashing aural river. Pure music beyond cerebral over-think, the spirit of Mindfulness is epitomized by the tune "Living Organs-Parallel Planes." The song begins with a tom-tom solo that builds into Spearman keening free on a Trane tip. DJ Olive segues in some Hendrix shred guitar, working and scratching it into jet plane takeoffs. Drum/sax duet fiercely as the piece evolves into wholesale sonic warfare on three fronts before it devolves into a fog of crickets, whippoorwills and R2D2 esperanto. Mindfulness is not for the close-minded.

Originally published in December 1997
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