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Weasel Walter/Mary Halvorson/Peter Evans: Mechanical Malfunction

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Weasel Walter must take comfort in chaos. On this followup to Electric Fruit, this trio’s debut, he revels in it, creating a carnival-esque hall of mirrors: theater of the absurd with Walter as ringmaster, or the ferryman over the river Styx, depending on his capricious whim. Walter is a singular figure in the avant-garde, an enfant terrible who traverses the boundaries of improvised music and outré rock, his sweaty visage and percussive hijinks a staple of New York’s experimental scene. In Peter Evans and Mary Halvorson, he’s allied himself with two musicians who share his madcap sensibility in which the instrument is merely a vessel for musical ideas. Despite this trio’s technical prowess, the medium is the message.

Tunes like “Klockwork,” “Broken Toy” and “Interface” are consistent with the theme of the title, focused less on modes of technology and communication than its breakdown. There’s an otherworldly internal logic here, loosely defined parameters of a molten world in which time and space bend to the will of anthropomorphized instruments: an impatient snare drum, an unruly fretboard or a bleating trumpet. Taken as a whole, the album is an extended musical joke a la “The Aristocrats,” a rite of passage for comedians that tests their mettle in the realm of the bawdy and profane. The trio fearlessly delves into the scatological, the vile and the plain weird, the type of alternative-comedy conceit that shouldn’t be heard without a hat to hold onto.

Originally Published