Eli Keszler - Oxtirn
Probably the most outrageous tidbit from a most outrageous record is that the crazed, unglued, free-form eruption by the monster known as Eli Keszler, is that all three parts of this earth-remaking effort are not improvised, but are actually scored. Ala Wadada Leo Smith, the written plan for the tracks on "Oxtirn" include graphs, color lines and overhead views of the piano to be used. This is an abrasive, relentless din of metallic KO.
Keszler is probably most "known" for his work as percussionist with Jandek, another artist who never met a straight line he didn't like. Here Keszler plays piano, guitar, "prepared sheet metal" and harp, among other detritus, with help from Andrew Fenlon (various horns) pianist Sakkiko Mori and clarinetist Ashley Paul.
"Part 1" resembles nothing so much as the sounds and colors one might find if you were sitting inside a trash compactor with the walls slowly closing in. "Part 2" raises the pitch and tones down on the metallic crunch, but it is on "Part 3" where the method to the madness shines in all its brilliance. Prepared piano anchors the metal and the piercing instruments, as guitar also makes its presence felt. This music is all about presence, an in the moment assault on what is expected and what is delivered. Is it angry music, or an attempt to show the world to itself and let us decide? I think it is outsider liberation music.
"Oxtirn" will not please many, which is as ringing an endorsement as I can give. Eli Keszler follows the sounds in his head to their conclusion; be they subtle or confrontational, they are meant to be exactly as he conceived them, as most art ought to be. This is music that gives the listener a choice and is fine with whatever is chosen.
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