Wasting no time, twin brothers Derek and Brent Gaines of Jerkagram and saxophonist Martin Escalante start making noise. Escalante’s sax wails over incomprehensible guitar sounds and clear, hard hitting drums. It is nothing short of free jazz, but it feels punk, almost no wave at times. Evidence of this background can be seen in Jerkagram’s relationship with punk legend Mike Watt of the Minutemen.
But in contrast to the Minutemen, there are no tracks under two minutes. The opener rages on for six before the brother duo settle into a groove that Escalante continues to go nuts over. After all the noise, it is quite satisfying, the guitar fills the open space.
Escalante starts to use his voice through the saxophone in “Brozone Layer” over similar cymbal hits and strange guitar beeps and whistles. It doesn’t seem to stay long, ending suddenly and leaving the listener wanting more. A steady, tribal beat and squealing saxophone seem to bookmark the middle of the album. It’s almost a respite from the madness.
What this album does best is toy with your expectations. When you think it is going to stay completely out there, the trio comes in with something more accessible. This is beauty of the dichotomy here, you appreciate the free improv and traditional moments alike. Another thing that deserves praise is how clearly it’s recorded. Engineered by cellist and collaborator Jason Adams, who is also known for his work as Rumori, the loudest moments do not falter in their quality while remaining true the high volume of this music. The clarity of the recording allows the listener to get lost in the improvisations without them getting too muddy.Parkour by Jerkagram & Martín Escalante
One of the only flaws of this record is that isn’t as memorable as it could be, only able to recall a few sounds or moments. But being catchy isn’t what this is about. It’s about listening in the moment and obtaining pleasure from every note, every strange squeal, the weird sounds, and improbable beats.
The guitar drone and constantly changing beat in the last track make for a hypnotic ending. Not only does it develop naturally, the track keeps the listener engaged. It is by far the best track on the album, coming in at almost 14 minutes and taking up much of the record. While the screaming sax of Escalante is the star of the show, it mellows out here. It is just what the listener wants at this point, the trio’s dynamics are on full display.
Whatever their intention, the trio created a cohesive and unique collaboration that focuses on obscure genres and improvisation. It is an essential listen for anyone into free jazz, improv, noise, drone, and other experimental genres.