Monday, March 15, 2010

CD of the Week - "Irom Kim Style"

CD of the Week
"Irom Kim Style" (MoonJune) 2010

An astounding impossible-to-be-labeled ("progressive jazz rock"?) album by this highly creative Seattle-based electrified quintet, joined by a sixth outstanding musician, bass clarinetist Izaak Mills, on two tracks. Btw, all 10 tunes were freely improvised by Irom Kim Style during the recording sessions engineered by Doug Haire @ Jack Straw Studios. Bill Jones' trumpet, often muted or with wha-wha, would make Miles Davis proud ("Bitches Brew" strikes again!) Digipak cover, with album design by Whitehall Design Company, and band photo by Barry Thompson. A slogan? The most innovative jazz is on MoonJune! Have a challenging & unpredictable trip.

1. Mean Streets of Pyongyang 10:33
2. Gibberish Falter 4:37
3. Po' Brief 6:18
4. Don Quixotic 7:37
5. Adrift 7:44
6. Amber Waves of Migraine 5:37
7. Pachinko Malice 5:10
8. Dreams From Our Dear Leader 3:20
9. Jack Out The Kims 2:34
10. Slouchin' at the Savoy 2:25

DENNIS REA 6-string electric guitar
THADDAEUS BROPHY 12-string electric guitar
BILL JONES trumpet
RYAN BERG bass guitar
IZAAK MILLS bass clarinet (Tracks 1 & 5)
Album Profile:

Enthusiasts of critically acclaimed dark progressive band Moraine ("manifest deNsity," another MoonJune release voted "CD of the Week" here in the Jazz Station blog) will welcome Iron Kim Style, a related project in a completely different but equally compelling musical vein.

Iron Kim Style is an explosive Seattle-based jazz-rock improv quintet featuring Moraine’s Dennis Rea (6-string electric guitar) and Jay Jaskot (drums) alongside Bill Jones (trumpet), Thaddaeus Brophy (12-string electric guitar), and Ryan Berg (electric bass). Drawing on influences as diverse as Olivier Messiaen, electric-period Miles Davis, Terje Rypdal, John Abercrombie, heavy rock, and North Korean martial music, Iron Kim Style conjures spontaneous sonic epics that encompass everything from stomping grooves to grinding noise to passages of eerie beauty.

Named after the acrobatic martial arts approach espoused by Grandmaster “Iron” Kim, and taking playful aim at deranged North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il, Iron Kim Style’s eponymously titled debut CD is a totally improvised outing that stands in stark contrast to most specimens of the free-improv genre. The quintet has no purist axes to grind here but gleefully blends structure and abstraction, lyrical melodies and scalding noise, wicked funk and weightless balladry, jazz phrasing and bracing experimentalism into a rich and meaty sonic stew. The resulting music frequently sounds as if it were composed, due to the finely tuned listening skills of the participants after years of collective music-making.
Artist Profile:

Iron Kim Style was founded in the early 2000s by bassist Ryan Berg, who recruited four like-minded veterans of various bands he had played in over the years. Berg’s musical partnership with guitarist Dennis Rea goes back to the early ‘90s in Taiwan, where the two played together in a number of pioneering progressive bands, and continued in the Seattle-based art-rock group Axolotl with drummer Jay Jaskot and guitarist Bill Horist. Berg, Jaskot, and guitarist Thaddaeus Brophy first collaborated in the Seattle improv trio State, and Berg and Jaskot went on to work together in the acid-funk juggernaut HighRize with future Iron Kim Style trumpet player Bill Jones. A unique concatenation of quicksilver melodies, jagged shards, volcanic crescendos, and hurtling polyrhythms, Iron Kim Style serves as an ideal vehicle for the simpatico quintet’s more unfettered energies.

Dennis Rea's adventurous guitar playing blends modern jazz, creative rock, experimental music, and world musical traditions into an approach that is uniquely his own. Over the years Dennis — also heard with his band Moraine (including Iron Kim Style drummer Jay Jaskot) on the MoonJune Records release "manifest deNsity" — has led or been a key contributor to numerous innovative groups including Land, Stackpole, Axolotl, Savant, Earthstar, Identity Crisis, Chekov, and Ting Bu Dong. He has performed or recorded with such prominent creative musicians as Han Bennink, Hector Zazou, Klaus Schulze, Stuart Dempster, and godfather of Chinese rock Cui Jian, as well as members of King Crimson, R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Ministry, and the Sun Ra Arkestra.

Rea has collaborated with many of the most important figures in contemporary Chinese music and was one of the first Western musicians to record an album for the state-owned China Record Company. His activities have included film, theater, radio, and modern dance, and he has appeared on nearly 30 recordings to date. He is also an accomplished author whose most recent work is the book Live at the Forbidden City: Musical Encounters in China and Taiwan, a portrait of the emerging Chinese rock and jazz scenes and a chronicle of his musical adventures in the Far East. His forthcoming CD "Views from Chicheng Precipice," a radical reimagining of East Asian traditional music, will be released by MoonJune Records in spring 2010.

Encyclopedic trumpet player Bill Jones covers the musical waterfront, bringing his distinctive voice to jazz, punk, funk, opera, pop, reggae, electronic, hip hop, blues, dub, and free-improv contexts. He first came to prominence in the celebrated 1990s ska band the Mudsharks, and currently tours regularly with Pacific Northwest reggae mainstays Clinton Fearon (famous as house bassist for Lee "Scratch" Perry's Black Ark Studio) and the Boogie Brown Band. In addition to these projects and Iron Kim Style, Bill also gigs with Plan B, playing ambient hip hop electronica with live instruments. In Iron Kim Style, he plays muted trumpet embellished with echo and wah pedals through a 100-watt amplifier.

Thaddaeus Brophy learned to play guitar at age 8, 12, 16, 19, 20, 26, 34, 36, and 39. Most of these intensive episodes of instrumental development coincide with the creation of original but eventually and/or ultimately boring (at least to himself), 'classic' rock, heavy metal, and twentieth century classist musics, plus a great deal of neighborhood noise. The material that was certain to transpire from this and a 'zeal' for overdetermined rhythmic phrase grammars means kick-ass temporal significance on a Rickenbacker 620-12, mind you.

Ryan Berg has been a veteran of the Seattle music scene for 15 years and counting. Although he began his musical training in drums and percussion, he finds his musical center with the electric fretted and fretless bass. He has been a founding member of numerous bands of many musical persuasions (Iron Kim Style, The Decliners, Seewall, HighRize, Jetlegrs, Axolotl, King Size American, State, Laud, and the BJS), toured both domestically and internationally (most recently in Taiwan), participated in various music festivals, and performed in a solo capacity. He has been cited for his “strong presence” in the Seattle Weekly and is known as a rock-steady player unafraid to venture into improvised music, jazz, drum ’n’ bass, acid-funk, and metal-stomp rock.

Apart from his occasional forays with Iron Kim Style, Brooklyn-based drummer Jay Jaskot formerly manned the kit for MoonJune artists Moraine. He currently plays with the band miniJ, periodically rumbles about with James Whiton and the Downtown Apostles, and previously played a kaleidoscopic range of instrumental rock and jazz with the Brothers of Max Catharsis, DJ O.J. McVeigh, HighRize, and State.

Artists' websites:

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