J.D. Parran and Mark Deutsch : Omegathorp: Living City

It’s difficult to imagine an experience that is less enjoyable than listening to this album and doesn’t involve physical harm. It’s also difficult to know what to make of this recording, which was made during a Sept. 12, 2002, concert in New York. There are moments of unsettled beauty-J.D. Parran’s squealing saxophone pitted against Mark Deutsch’s mournful Bazantar (a stringed, droning bass he invented), David Darling’s cello crying sweetly amid Kevin Norton’s rustling cymbals. But taken as a whole, the project feels disjointed, rambling and, at its worst, self-indulgent. And we haven’t even gotten to Thomas Buckner’s vocals yet.

Buckner speaks, whispers, chants, sings and otherwise orates the poetry of Glenn Spearman during the bizarre, four-part title suite. Buckner’s delivery is unnerving, to say the least. He sounds like evil incarnate in some places and like a Simpsons character parodying opera in others. When he takes a rest, pianist Joseph Kubera enters with a long, pointless, meandering solo. It gets interesting only when someone begins coughing while he’s playing.

The rest of the album is even less compelling. “Kwama Okura” takes 24 minutes to go nowhere, and “Improvisation”-always a good name for a piece with no concept-eats up another 13-plus minutes. Who is this album intended for? Friends of the musicians? And what the hell is an “Omegathorp,” anyway? Ah, forget it. Who cares? At 72 minutes, the disc is an hour and 12 minutes too long.