Deadly Orgone Radiation – Power Trips

Deadly Orgone Radiation

Deadly Orgone Radiation are a scuzzy power trio, and their Power Trips (Copepod) is a raw and urgent dispatch.

Opening salvo “Nexus Of Entitlement” comes on like a masculate Erase Errata, all frenetic abrasion and pileup backbeat. But there’s just enough looseness for the twin guitars to mesh through abrasive counterpoint. Sonic Youth is an obvious touchstone, though Deadly Orgone Radiation are more relentless and improvisatory, with no recourse to song structures.

There are Sonic Youth connections though. Thurston Moore once played on an album by Deadly Orgone Radiation guitarist Alex Ward’s The XIII Ghosts: Legend Of The Blood Yeti (Infinite Chug, 2007); an album which also featured Derek Bailey, though sadly not on the same tracks.

And Deadly Orgone Radiation’s second guitarist, James Sedwards—who once led math/meal group Nøught, was recently recruited by changeling avant/prog rockers Guapo, and also plays in Chrome Hoof—is currently a member of The Thurston Moore Band.

But the clearest precedents for the Deadly Orgone Radiation sound are the miscellaneous experimentations of Ward and DOR drummer Weasel Walter.

Alex Ward, who plays only guitar in DOG, but also clarinet and occasional alto sax in other contexts, has previously worked with Sedwards in Alex Ward & The Dead Ends, one of many spinning-plate projects. Dead Days Beyond Help, an ongoing duo collaboration with drummer Jem Doulton, compacts complex instrumental improv into songs; Predicate is his all-acoustic improv group; he conceived Forebrace “to play clarinet in a high-volume electric context”; and he plays mostly excoriating guitar in N.E.W., a longstanding trio with bassist John Edwards and drummer Steve Noble.

Weasel Walter has since the 90s been the driving force behind the dissonant, eclectic and otherwise unclassifiable The Flying Luttenbachers. He’s now in an experimental New York-based group called Behold The Arctopus, and plays guitar in Cellular Chaos, alongside free jazz drummer Marc Edwards, but he’s best known as a restless collaborator: I’ve been most impressed by work with trumpeter Peter Evans and guitarist Mary Halvorson.

An eclectic upbringing then, but Deadly Orgone Radiation focus on piledriving impetus and abrasion. “Time Funeral (Bury The Hero)” picks up where “Nexus Of Entitlement” leaves off, and replays its gambit of an opening blitzkrieg paving the way for a dissection of speed- and math- metal methodologies. Afterwards it slowly gears down, with Walter’s locomotive double bass drum sound collapsing into rolling breakers.

“The Unendurable Delight” is brief, played out in pummelling staccato with abrasive, ‘mistuned’ abstractions against serried chords. “Commission The Cutthroat” brings a change of pace, a looser but still highly-charged deconstruction of the prevailing aesthetic. Space here for some vibrato. But that doesn’t last long, as Walter goads the trio to new intensities with martial insistence.

“Oversized Cupid” is the one piece here on which Ward plays alto sax. It’s a short, compact and highly-charged albeit initially (deceptively) mid-paced, a number into which the trio cram a stockpile of torrid energies. The alto sounds sour and acidic against Walter’s berserker rumpus, while Sedwards essays an array of strategies from pickup scouring to low-rev mechanical vibrato. This is halfway to Charnel House psych/noise, cf. Mainliner.

Last and longest, “Strictly The Spike” (10:24) begins in relative serenity, with open, abstract soundings. But there’s an ominous, even aggressive atmosphere from the start, and Walter’s indeterminate rolling barrage is soon back in play. The momentum thereafter is headlong and slightly unhinged, the dual guitars running through a gamut of inventive extrapolations of distorted lead guitarist tropes.

Somehow this exhilarating, highly-charged trio finds a balance between focus and feral inhibition, so although the overriding tenor of the album is aggressive it pummels but doesn’t bludgeon, and although the most obvious referents are all in outsider rock, the influence of avant-garde jazz—everything from Frank Lowe and Rashied Ali’s Duo Exchange to Last Exit—is also palpable.

James Sedwards guitar; Alex Ward guitar, alto sax; Weasel Walter drums.

Related Posts
Spring Heel Jack with Pat Thomas, Alex Ward and Paul Lytton – Live in Antwerp.
Thurston Moore with Tom Raworth, Alex Ward and Steve Noble at Cafe Oto, March 2012.
Thurston Moore with Tom Raworth, Alex Ward and Steve Noble at Cafe Oto, March 2012.
N.E.W. at Cafe Oto, January 2012.

Buy Deadly Orgone Radiation direct from Alex Ward/Copepod on Bandcamp.


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