Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Alchemical Rowdies
"Tour de Convulse"

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Alchemical Rowdies
(Trans Museq, 1981)

Free improvisation! Yea! None's been featured for a while, so here's a nice selection from a fine platter from the Alchemical Rowdies. I'm guessing the album is entitled Trans-Idio 'cause it's a collaboration of Alabama's Davey Williams and LaDonna Smith,Idio Savant - Shakers in a Tantrum Landscape who've run the Trans Museq label since the mid-'70s, and ¾ of Virginia's Idio Savant, whom I featured here early last year (all of them are here but Marty McCavitt, who I suppose was too busy mutilating cattle).

This probably sounds like random noise to a lot of people; it sure did to me, at first. In fact, I sold my first copy of this 'cause I couldn't stand it. I'd bought it 'cause the same ¾ of Idio Savant that play on it were later in the fabulous Orthotonics, also featured here in the past. It sounded nothing like the Orthos, though, and my brain was still too small and unprepared. Full disclosure: I'd never even heard of Idio Savant at that point. It was several more years before I was able to really wrap my head around free improv.

Explaining why I like stuff like this isn't easy. I noticed when I was around nineteen or twenty that I was starting to really like music that was full of chaos, but chaos that had some sort of anchor, like a good beat amidst the noise, or that gelled in some other way. Good free improvisation is a dialog between musicians, the gel comes from the conversation: the players are listening and responding to each other. On the other hand, people in their own little worlds, playing away, and not paying attention to each other, tend to be considerably less interesting.


  • J. Pippin Barnett - percussion
  • Danny Finney - saxophones
  • LaDonna Smith - violin, viola, voice
  • Paul Watson - trumpets, alto horn
  • Davey Williams - electric guitar

No biased opinions . . . yet