It's safe to say that with only a handful of free jazz proponents operating in Tucson, the local improv scene, as it were, isn't going to be notching the same level of international attention that, say, Chicago and Zurich regularly reap.
But there are aficionados here just the same, willing and able to blow out rooms and venues with their teeth-rattling skronk simply because for them, if you clear the head, then you free the mind -- and you know what follows from that.
So Cortex Bomb, who mines the intersections of jazz, hard rock, punk and even cinematic soundscapes with the feral intensity of someone who's been lost in the wild for a week, munching on jimson weed and practicing his Bowie knife carving skills, brings that free aesthetic right to the table and passes out big steaming portions.
At times the group's dizzying darts seems depth-defying. One minute you encounter a cooly-rendered blend of traditional sax-driven honk 'n' swing, the next a swan-dive into sampladelic, hip-hop-fueled electronica, the next a metallic hardcore guitar roar, and the next some outrageous Prog-surf fusion.
With 30 songs here, that's a lot of hat-changing. But you never get the feeling that anyone's faking it or even dabbling in genres for the sake of acting out.
Cortex Bomb clearly digs being in the eye of the hurricane.
And the group relishes the art of song-titling, too, ranging from the evocative ("Paul Shaffer Auto-Erotic Vacuum Cleaner Exit Wound") and the punful ("Knives In White Satan") to the brutal ("3000 Strangers Who Got AIDS From Eazy E") and frankly inscrutable ("6 x 1023 of Gary Colemans").
Hey, instrumental music SHOULD be fun!
Reviewers in the past have rightly pegged a litany of influences: Melvins, John Zorn, Peter Brotzmann, King Crimson, Boredoms, Ennio Morricone, Frank Zappa, Ornette Coleman.
But as with life, it's the sum and not the equation that counts, and when it's all said and done, the cumulative effect of Cortex Bomb, ahem, adds up.
Now pardon me, I must be going.
I think my ass just blew off.