The 16 Deadly Improvs | The Revenge of The 16 Deadly Improvs

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Avant Garde: Free Improvisation Rock: Progressive Rock Moods: Type: Experimental
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The Revenge of The 16 Deadly Improvs

by The 16 Deadly Improvs

With their 4th installment, the 16 Deadly Improvs take the listener on an unparalleled and uncompromising sonic journey. The album features 16 improvisational pieces that will surely push your senses to their very limits.
Genre: Avant Garde: Free Improvisation
Release Date: 

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Tracks

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1. UnEarthly
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1:27 $0.99
2. Brave Archer
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4:23 $0.99
3. Don't Move
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5:52 $0.99
4. Flammenwerfer
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7:34 $0.99
5. When The Tail Hits, The Head Reacts
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3:25 $0.99
6. The Fall
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3:34 $0.99
7. In The Black
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3:57 $0.99
8. Spectrum: MMVII BC
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4:25 $0.99
9. The 80's
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0:36 $0.99
10. Open
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5:14 $0.99
11. Cyclopean
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4:31 $0.99
12. Tongues Of The Moon
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4:09 $0.99
13. 2/9
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3:13 $0.99
14. Marco Polo vs. The 4 Assassins
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2:46 $0.99
15. Quiet American
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5:27 $0.99
16. UnEarthly (Reprise)
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13:43 $0.99
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
Except as noted, the music on this album was distilled from a single 2.5 hour collective improvisation. There were no prior rehearsals or sharing of musical ideas, and the later overdubs were also spur-of-the-moment.

We believe this is a largely successful attempt to make music in a pure and ideal form, where distinct musical personalities spontaneously interact together to create whole, dynamic compositions.

Some of the music has been edited for clarity and focus; some has been looped and/or digitally processed to create composition where it did not exist previously. Much is intact in its original form, with mistakes, cohesive flubs, and ‘moments of brilliance ’ all included, side-by-side.

We believe it is special and worthy of sharing. We hope you enjoy it.

16DI

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Revenge of the 16DI: Rock meets jazz, they cohabitate and make a lovely little family

1. UnEarthly - Minimal and ominous, this is a fitting introduction to what follows - a diverse collection of jams and accidental, as well as intentional, compositions.

2. Brave Archer - Begins with a friendly beat and bass line, followed by warm keyboard tones, then a clean jazz guitar solo, peppy rhythm section, including a happy, upbeat rhythm guitar and a ‘positive’ keyboard melody later on. This song has a nice build-up in terms of the introduction of instruments and is a strong track to lead the album, as well as standing very good on its own terms as a Brave Archer very well does.

3. Don't Move - A darker turn is taken here. A laid back bass line and beat begins with a contemplative guitar coming in and building through vocal melody (influenced by Sade’s Cherish the Day), a tasteful overdubbed guitar solo, etc. The instrumentation has a “bottomed out” feel to it before the big guitar riff comes in and it all bottoms out yet again before ending on guitar progression. The subject matter of the lyrics (influenced, among other things, by a very good Italian film from a few years ago called Don’t Tell, with Penelope Cruz) and the nature of the music make this a, singable, but ultimately gloomy song. Also some good editing has made this piece flow more smoothly as a song.

4. Flammenwerfer - A real jazz piece of sorts. A flaming cymbal sound backing quirky guitar parts, ploinking bass. The guitars trade - Vin taking first solo, someone crying out or moaning, persistent interceptor sound from keyboards, Nick then takes solo, rolling bass line; keyboard melody introducing long lead out – things get bashing until the return to the quirky guitar part at the end and finally return of the flaming cymbal. This piece puts the listener in the mind of The Challenge’s The Pugilist.

5. When The Tail Hits, The Head Reacts - Guitar riff and clean Vin solo that sounds like someone is scat singing along to, some finger scale exercises towards the end and panning of the keys and guitar bring this short piece to a pleasant closure. This is a good track that is fun, short and accessible.

6. The Fall - The mood of brevity is retained here with a much less frenetic exposition introducing a dreamlike track; against some nice plucking in the background, a majestic guitar solo turns anthemic and takes the melody crescendoing to a soaring stadium-like lead. It all ends on a more quiet, but hopeful, note. All in all this is just a gorgeous piece.

7. In The Black - Spare, minimal, melancholic and quite beautiful beginning, guitar sounds initially like it could be a piano; the beginning, at least, reminds one of Love Is Blindness by U2. As minimal goes, this is an outstanding example of the effective contribution of silence by non-playing band members (or were they just muted out?) in the intro as it serves as a good setting for the vocal and subsequently the piece as a composition; a keyboard flourish echo that seems to work with the ethereal quality of the piece signals the entrance of the bass and percussion. The call and response vocals lend a CSNY Deja-Vu quality to the amorphousness of the piece until it hardens with the consistent rhythm guitar, punctuating snare and more forceful vocals into probably the shortest piece of rock coming out of nowhere ever recorded - “it ends too soon”, but doesn’t in fact. Perfect little piece.

8. Spectrum: MMVII B.C. - This is a more immediate hit of rock after the quiet of the previous track. This seems to me a good example of the rock “ego” of 16DI taking over (in terms of Freud’s analogy that is – perhaps within 16DI rock is “the ego”; jazz and progressive “the superego” and noise and cacophony “the id”) with the clean guitar providing a nice counter to the distortion; a brief little bass solo at the end closes this uncompromising piece that rocks you back to the stone ages.

9. The 80's - It’s nice to hear this session’s humor contained in a 36 second piece that really couldn’t be put any better.

10. Open - Slide guitar to this extent is a first for 16DI and lends this piece a big sky country vibe that works well with the singing words. The arpeggiated keyboards put you in the mind of Baba O’Reilly, but even as great as this is (and it is great) it’s probably not as good as that. The drums are great as in all the songs, but to keep time without listening to the off keyboard cycle is really wonderful. The soaring vocals intertwine beautifully over the musical landscape.

11. Cyclopean - Rocking beginning; nice conga percussion throughout regrounds a piece that sounds at the same time like it’s blasting off to another planet. The single guitar note lead at the end is highly suspenseful and builds the tension to a fever pitch before unleashing a final burst of energy in a succinct and triumphant ending.

12. Tongues Of The Moon - This loungey, bluesy tune has some nice tension towards the end, including some strangled guitar work before the final closing of pleasant guitar melody and interplay. Overall another winner in the lounge jazz department for this record.

13. 2/9 - This total jazz track is a success (otherwise it wouldn’t be on a soundtrack would it?) The guest vocalist is great and adds an air of sophistication to the proceedings both as a single piece and as an album. (16DI with “special guests”)

14. Marco Polo vs. The 4 Assassins - 16DI doing reggae might have been called Reggae for Bensky? Actually reminds me of Guns of Brixton by The Clash. This was an immediate standout track of mine on the album due to its sheer accessibility, simplicity and brevity. Nice overdub guitar. It is also a good set-up for the penultimate track, which is bit more heavy in terms of subject matter and musicality.

15. Quiet American - You hear 2 parts to this song: the eloquent vocal melody part which reminds me of Elbow and a little bit of Radiohead; and the synth part which reminds me of Floyd, or a return of BRL’s The Body with the soundscapes but without the heavy riffage. It gets real out there. The whole thing provides some nice headphone listening. Dramatic, melodic, unconventional sounding - this is one of the real standout pieces of the whole collection.

16. UnEarthly Reprise - An epic track that has become a surprising favourite.. It surprises you at how easy it is to listen to all the way through, despite the 13+ minute time stamp on it. It reminds you of the 1st 16DI recording in the unedited sense of it - just a tape rolling and a band making sounds - some good, some bad but continuously searching. That being the case, the re-emergence of the guitar melody from track 1 in the final SEVEN seconds of a long musical journey is just a great way to tie up this whole bonanza of musical tastiness.


Reviews


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Gerald Wandio- dprp.net

The Revenge of the 16 Deadly Improvs
Just imagine my trepidation when I received this CD for review and discovered that the title wasn’t a joke: the sixteen tracks on this CD are, indeed, all improvisations. Moreover, they’re improvisations recorded in two and a half hours and (if we’re to believe the liner notes) fixed up with only a few overdubs, and those overdubs are also allegedly “spur-of-the-moment” (whatever that can mean). Imagine my further trepidation, not to say dread (okay, we can say it), when I read the band’s claim that “We believe this is a largely successful attempt to make music in a pure and ideal form...” I take it as an article of belief that artists should not pronounce on their own art, especially must not praise it! And furthermore, as we stand at the beginning of the twenty-first century, with a solid thousand years of Western music behind us – most of it carefully composed and artfully performed – I find myself dubious about the claim that “pure and ideal” music is that which is improvised on the spot.

Well, so much for my preconceptions. Now imagine how pleased I am to be able to say that, darn it, the band is right: this is a largely successful attempt! Not wholly successful, for sure; and I still refuse to accept the band’s theory about what constitutes the “pure and ideal” form of music. But this is a brave and, frankly, quite enjoyable experimental album.

I hadn’t heard of this group before, but apparently this is their fourth such album. Presumably therefore they’ve worked out a procedure, or more likely a number of procedures, for getting going in the studio when they gather to create a collection of improvisations. Without knowing the extent of the overdubbing, I can still say that the compositions (for such they emerge as) are in many cases quite impressive, some even featuring vocals (overdubbed, as one would expect would be necessary; but still, adding vocals to improvised instrumentals is no mean feat!). There are a few pieces that sound just like what you’d expect from six guys getting together and jamming with “no prior rehearsals or sharing of musical ideas” (also from the liner notes) – chief among them, I think, being the amusingly titled Flammenwerfer, which is rather grating than inventive – but as I say, a good three-quarters of these improvisations come out sounding like real (if loose) compositions.

Well, you want to know, what kind of music is it? The bulk of the music is not what I would call “progressive” (or anything like it); but I’ll admit that some of the pieces aren’t a million miles removed from, say, Red-era King Crimson or even the instrumentals on Bowie’s Berlin albums (Low, Heroes, Lodger). Most impressive to me is the way the improvisations often build and then devolve: this group (there are six members) can turn or stop on a dime, and they obviously are good at cueing each other when it’s time to take a new tack. Perhaps the most impressive of these pieces is Cyclopean, which is also the track closest to what we might call progressive rock. I particularly like the repetitive guitar solo that almost, but not quite, overstays its welcome (think of Neil Young’s infamous one-note solo on Cinnamon Girl and you’re in the ballpark).

Most of the improvs are closest to what most of us would consider fairly tightly controlled free-form jazz (not a contradiction – honest!). Kudos especially go to Jeff Bridi, who plays bass on most of the tracks. It must have been tempting for him on many occasions to lay out and stick to the roots and tempting on other occasions to go nuts (because, after all, who listens to what the bass is doing?) – but, in my judgement, he not only creates just the right bass lines for most of these pieces but manages to find the pocket as well – surely a difficult chore when improvising! Gene Bohensky and Dave Wilson, who alternate on drums and percussion, also deserve to be singled out for not filling the spaces whenever they appear: both percussionists show tact and musicality as they find their place in the improvs.

On the whole, then, as I said at the outset, I have to concur with what I wish the band itself had not said: this is indeed a largely successful attempt. Despite this success, though, I remain entirely un-persuaded that the theory behind the album is sound. As fans of improvised music or what are usually called “jam bands” (Phish, Grateful Dead, and Dave Matthews Band fans, stand up!) will attest, improvisations can indeed be musical, tuneful, delightful. As fans of almost all of Western music will counter, though, there’s surely something to be said for taking care in composition and in creating performances that can be at least approximately duplicated; so, while this is a solid album and a demonstration of the virtues of improvisation, surely it’s not proof that improvisation is the only “pure and ideal form of music” to be found. But it may be that, despite its words, the band never intended it to be so – never intended it to be more than it is.

Ryan Sparks- sea of tranquility.org

The Revenge
Stylistically speaking the musical performances are pretty much all over the map but it's all done with a degree of subtly. Because even though each track should be considered as a single entity on its own, there isn't a wide disparity from track to track to disrupt the all round cohesive nature of these compositions. Primarily instrumental (a handful of songs feature vocals or spoken word) these musicians slide gracefully from one genre to another with relative ease. Jazz idioms mesh perfectly with traces of progressive rock, post rock, ambient and experimental to create a completely refreshing listening experience. What also stands out is just how structured these improvisational pieces sound, and it's only really on the final track, the thirteen minute "UnEarthly Reprise" space rock freak out, that things feel like a free for all jam session.

All in all The Revenge of The 16 Deadly Improvs is a rock solid, seventy minute plus effort from top to bottom that is both full of risk and reward.

Dag Fjellby

Fantastic!
There is not much to add here, in relation to what the Author: Gerald Wandio already has written.
This is just art! Improvisation at its best!

Shawn Jaeger

Like Radiohead
I have been really enjoying the 16 Deadly Improvs Triumph and Revenge CDs. Listening to the really nice keyboards on 'Brave Archer' on the Revenge CD I thought immediately of Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood's ondes Martenot playing. I'm not sure if the group had that sound in mind but it made me think of "How to Disappear Completely".