18 September 2015


The first time I heard this record, I had no idea what I was listening to. I was getting promo shit from Elektra for my small town Oklahoma new wave radio show, which meant I got the new SUGARCUBES record before the other dozen weirdos in town had heard of them, and I got early copies of all the 12"ers from Disintegration, so that was cool. But this...it simply made no sense at all. I knew it wasn't noise, but I didn't think it was jazz either - it was just chaos. For the uninitiated, SPY VS. SPY was the result of one of countless John Zorn collaborations (he has done more than simply bring horns to hessians via PAINKILLER and NAKED CITY and his promotional "radio hour," also received from my friendly Elektra rep while I was still in high school, was my first exposure to NAPALM DEATH and DIE KREUZEN and pre-Thrash Zone DRI). Listening with my 40+ year old ears, these tracks are so much more next level than the teenaged wizard could have possibly grasped. Layers upon layers of pure shred, two manic saxophones simultaneously devouring, demolishing and reinventing Ornette Coleman with blast after blast of fury. I played it for my friends at the time, not so much to say "hey, you will dig this" as to say "hey, what is this?" but they all hated it (of course) and thought I was weird(er). But I stuck with it, I used this tape as a reference and a starting point, and this presentation of selected works of a jazz legend is still one of the most insane and innovative records that I own. Fortunately for you, I have supplemented my collection with a cassette copy as well.


Justin said...

Awesome review, Robert!

I stumbled on this at the Seattle Public Library about 10 years back and have thought it was completely rad ever since.

Third Leg Debris said...

"small town Oklahoma new wave radio show"- bwahahaha. I just yakked with my wife minutes ago about Oklahoma's natural beauty- Wichita Mountains, Ouathcita Mountains, Little Salt Lake, Little Gobi Desert, Moore. Maybe we'll vacay in Tulsa someday.

a boy named stew said...

i've always much preferred mr. coleman (RIP) to mr. zorn, but i've never actually heard this and now i'll be giving it a try. last year was my year of diving deep on ornette coleman, including a coincidental visit to his birth city (where they have absolutely no recognition of him). also thanks. thanks. thanks. thanks. thanks. (my DLing-to-commenting ratio is approx 5:1 but not cuz i don't care, just cuz sometimes i'm too lazy)