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Mike Pride: Drummer’s Corpse

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The disparate influences of drummer-composer Mike Pride bleed into one another in distinct and surprising ways on his two very different new releases. A powerhouse presence in the jazz, hardcore and metal realms, Pride spotlights the myriad ways those seemingly opposed genres illuminate and interact with one another in a multifaceted celebration of his newfound fatherhood on Birthing Days, and in the punishing, monolithic percussion assault of Drummer’s Corpse.

Birthing Days features Pride’s longtime quartet, From Bacteria to Boys, featuring pianist Alexis Marcelo, bassist Peter Bitenc and the equally chameleonic saxophonist Jon Irabagon. The 11-minute title track alone shows off the band’s versatility, tracing an impressionistic portrait of the first day of life for Pride’s newborn son. It starts off sunny and strange, Marcelo’s synth-playing helping situate it somewhere between soft rock and Zappa-esque eccentricity; by the end of the piece, the group is meditating in Coltrane-like surges, explicitly hinting at “Naima.” This is followed by the spare chamber abstractions of “Marcel’s Hat” and the farcically swinging “Brestwerp.” Irabagon summons a breathy, melancholy tone for the tender ballad “Lullaby for Charlie,” while the airy, painterly “Motiaon” pays illustrative homage to the late Paul Motian. Throughout, Pride anchors the proceedings with a deft balance of raucous force, buoyant swing and coloristic accents.

Drummer’s Corpse wastes little time with such subtleties. Comprising two roughly 30-minute compositions, the disc employs seven inventive drummers, including Tyshawn Sorey, Ches Smith and Bobby Previte, along with guitarist Chris Welcome, bassist Eivind Opsvik and three vocalists. Unlike the happy occasion behind Birthing Days, Drummer’s Corpse was precipitated by a devastating apartment fire, and from the opening, strained groans over clattering gongs, the sense of loss and destruction are palpable. Dense and anarchic, the title piece is a whirlpool of drone and percussion, a labyrinth with no outlet. The second piece, “Some Will Die Animals,” is a reaction to the suicide of drummer Gen Makino. Japanese inflections and dark undercurrents gird the unsettling epic, which is twice interrupted by news broadcasts, suggesting the constant, unnerving intrusion of global tragedies into daily life.

Originally Published