May 23, 2024

The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol – ‘Ensemble 2016’ – “LSD trails float across the vision of tranced dancers and tripping vinyl junkies”


Somewhere in a rip in the space-time continuum, simultaneously in Ottowa in 2016 and The Filmore West in San Francisco in 1968, TBWNIAS will always be jamming, as LSD trails float across the vision of tranced dancers and tripping vinyl junkies. Re-broadcast from the acid-tinged streets of Honley in Yorkshire on a limited pressing of 400 elpees, this two-sided extemporisation is everything that is great about The Band Whose Name Is A Symbol and, if you don’t find them to your taste, everything that is bad about them. In other words, it’s everywhere and nowhere, baby. That’s where it’s at.

Extracted directly from live jams at Birdman Sound Studio in Ottowa, those crazy Canucks cut loose with two times twenty-minute jams that perfectly stay always where they are and where they need to be. The floating cast consists of eight members this time round and they seem both nicely psychically tuned with each other for organic jamming, while more than happy to tug and pull and head off in different, sometimes abstract, directions. A nice touch is the wild blowing horn.

Side One opens oh so slowly; fluttering percussion, plucked strings, scratching sounds. The players find their way into a steady slow jam with jazzy drums, momentum growing and failing, oscillator shifts until, the band suddenly finds a speedy lock-step head-nodding beat and things get a little space-rock before wandering into stoner territory. I do love wandering jams – you can hear the back and forth of ideas, tensions, little proddings and pullings. Side Two picks up on a similar theme and a nicely repetitive pulse allows group members to noodle and peck at the whole. A trumpet wails loudly, electronics burble, drums throw in extra points of interest. Guitar feedback helps pause proceedings momentarily before a break-beating double speed drum pattern pulls it all back in and tensions build to a frenzy with guitar soling amid all the other interjections. Things are heading for a climax and fall into disarray just before, bringing the album to an end.

A more-than-pleasing excursion from this perennial band, always deep in the search for the perfect jam.

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