Sophistication has many faces. Certainly among guitar players. Marc Ribot is known to be one of his kin’s most unusual protagonists since his brash trashy trademark sound and stubborn intonation enriched Tom Waits‘ classic Rain Dogs album (1985). With Your Turn, second effort from his power trio Ceramic Dog, the multifunctional guitarist from New York has succeeded to produce a gorgeously dirty sounding album. An exceptionally nasty free-funk-psych-electro-punk-bastard, feedbacking with self conscience, withdrawing from the jazz policemens‘ pull as well as the homuncule idea of one per se „upright“ rock music. Present music. And now let him who is without sin cast the first stone in the glass house:
Download this music for free / we like it when you do. / We don’t have homes or families to feed / we’re not human like you. / We live inside your ipod / we have no goddess or god. / We’re slaves who only live to serve the masters of the internet. („Masters Of The Internet“)
Loud and merciless, in well-planned scratched up Arabic sound conditions the trio forces it’s way straight out of the garage, gets it’s teeth into Brubeck’s jazz classic „Take Five“, deconstructs, kicks and clatters to finally unleash it sharpened, relevant and in contemporary condition. This is 21st century jazz, played by a rock group.
Admittedly not your everyday rock group. Shahzad Ismaily (bass, electronics) and Ches Smith (drums) are among the most independent musicians in US-improv-/experimental underground. Individualistic team players committing their extraordinary skills to the sound of the band. Their many experiences come from such diverse musicians as Will Oldham, Yoko Ono, Tim Berne, Wadada Leo Smith and bands like Xiu Xiu and Mr. Bungle.
Ribot’s reference list is merely endless. A garage rocker in various bands while simultaneously taking classic guitar lessons as a youngster, Ribot (*1954) has played with Wilson Pickett, Elvis Costello, Marianne Faithful, Caetano Veloso, James Carter, Alain Bashung, Marisa Monte, Madeleine Peyroux, Allen Toussaint, David Sylvian, Alison Krauss & Robert Plant, The Black Keys plus countless others in the last 30 years. He is a longtime contributor for John Zorn’s records and has released 19 albums of his own featuring the music of Albert Ayler, cuban pop music and punk-noise-fusion with band projects such as Rootless Cosmopolitans or Shrek. Other than Ceramic Dog which, as Ribot is eager to point out, is NOT a project but a REAL band. Right on.
With the skeletonized post-punk-blues of „Lies My Body Told Me“ Your Turn begins, one truly physical love lamento. „The Kid Is Back“ is a devious little swing tune, while the emphatic scoring of US-poet James Oppenheim’s (1882–1932) „Bread And Roses“ evokes and promotes true life beyond the state of mere existence. Weird time signatures, shattering highspeed jazzrock, rattling tin cup Americana, something that sounds like Sonic Youth broken down into Neil Young’s Crazy Horse. Ribot proves to be a punchy untreated vocalist between mid-70’s NYC punkrock, quiet ballading and somewhat sarcastic rap.
The instrumental „Prayer“ may go for Your Turn’s center piece. Baffling and startling yet comforting the album’s virtues are merging here. Ribot’s Fork-and-knife-guitar carries the piece halfway through, alone and so andearingly that Ismaily’s and Smith’s abrupt entry comes completely unexpected. A prayer without words adressed to no God whatsoever. Lustful, phat, emotional, contemplative: Truly spiritual.
As you can see in the cover art, this album is about unfairness, injustice and rage. It’s a political album.
This is Marc’s statement below:
Second records are a bitch (or, if “bitch” is too offensive, ”notoriously hard to nail down,” No? We thought about this one for 2 years – and even tried to make it a few times.
Finally we got it right – meaning, we got it to sound wrong exactly like us.If you listen closely, you can hear the rage, hope, disappointment, ritual excess, love and anarchy that were in our personal and collective airspace during those years. There were (and – we hope – will continue to be) several kinds of riots going on (“Lies My Body Told Me,” “Bread and Roses”). And yes, the CD is “political,” (see “Avanti Popolo,” “Ain’t Gonna Let Them Turn Me ‘Round”). But what fun is raging against the machine if you can’t also rage against the bar line and the tonal system (“Take Five,” “Rritual Slaughter“, “Your Turn”)? The astute listener will note our wry comment on the contradictions of producing a recording during the collapse of the industry which once paid for recordings to be produced („We Are the Professionals,” “Masters of the Internet” and the attached manifesto). The very astute listener with really expensive headphones may hear the water pipes in the basement on Rivington and Allen where we recorded about half the tracks (the guitar amp isolation booth looked a lot like a bathroom). Those searching for rigorously applied formal constraints may have to wait. Ceramic Dogs just wanna have fun.