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July/August 2005

Mandarin Movie
Mandarin Movie
Aesthetics

Could this disc be the enema jazz needs to get it out of its logy state? The answer: "Yes!" in thunder. Mandarin Movie is the tumultuous instant classic conceived by Brazil-via-Chicago cornetist Rob Mazurek (Isotope 217, Chicago Underground Trio, Tigersmilk, Orton Socket). Mazurek's past projects have shown flashes of understated brilliance, but none has hinted at the revolutionary fury of Mandarin Movie.

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Mandarin Movie

Mazurek has arranged what sounds like a once-in-a-lifetime supersession with Matthew Lux (bass, electronics), Steve Swell (trombone), Jason Ajemian (double bass, electronics), Frank Rosaly (drums) and Alan Licht (guitar). While Mazurek long has been interested in infusing electronics into jazz composition, he thrusts them to the fore with Mandarin Movie.

"Orange" opens the album with droning Moog burbles, then a calm explosion of Licht's flinty guitar and Rosaly's understated full-kit kineticism. The group quickly pitches us into a cyclotron that recalls psych-jazz classics like Et Cetera's self-titled LP, Love Cry Want's eponymous opus and Miles Davis' "Rated X." Elsewhere, Mandarin Movie enact free-noise rituals of frightening intensity more akin to Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music or early Swans than anything in jazz. This is some of the most feral, alive music happening now. What a cleansing bomb of a record.

Originally published in July/August 2005
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