Explosive new full-length live album from BRÖTZMANN/LEIGH, the duo of Peter Brötzmann (tenor, alto-saxophones, tarogato, b-flat clarinet) and Heather Leigh (pedal steel guitar) recorded at the legendary WELS festival in November 2016 and released in May 2017, exactly two years after the duo began their on-going collaboration in Glasgow, Scotland at the Tectonics festival.
SEX TAPE fully delivers on the fantasy of this dream-team hook-up, focusing less on the sensuous new sound strategies and spectral instant compositions of their debut album, Ears Are Filled With Wonder, and instead making for the jugular with a massively energetic slab of continually evolving high-energy exchange that sees both players pushing the potential of their instruments all the way into-the-red.
This is the evolved dynamic of two musicians fully-engaged and beyond thought, sometimes playing as a single instrument, taking a heady feel for bruising microtonality and going toe-to-toe with the kind of stark/eviscerated psychedelic noise strategies that stagger and swoon all the way into the realms of ritual music and hallucinated third ear soundings. Leigh wields her F/X pedals like weapons, sharpening her attack, making woozy her melodic lines, using a volume pedal to generate projective force while shaving the swells with tone clusters like broken razors.
Brötzmann makes with some of his most original gambits, pushing hard into vectors and tangents that refuse the gravity of his back catalogue. Some of the more lunar sections see the duo touching on ambient Krautrock, even.
Brötzmann has underlined in interviews that the music he plays with Leigh should not be identified as free jazz and here it really feels like he is formulating a new music moment-to-moment, taking off from seminal one-offs in his catalogue like the duo set with Bill Laswell, Low Life, combing machine noise with incredible ticker-tape multiphonics, an odd old-time jazz religiosity and a bruising blues and rock/roll-informed approach to rocking the god damned bandstand.
Expertly mastered by Martin Siewart (who rumour has it will be working on the duo’s upcoming/highly-anticipated studio album), the mix works to bring out the most tactile qualities of the sound: you feel the pulse and the rhythms of every exchange, the body-rocking bass, the ghosts of the upper register. With track markers throughout it’s possible to drop into moments: Brötzmann setting fire to Leigh’s gossamer melodies, Leigh exploding feedback fireworks over voids of saxophone drone. Dynamic, psychedelic, always new: BRÖTZMANN/LEIGH play BRÖTZMANN/LEIGH music.
And what’s with the sleeve and title? SEX TAPE: a leaked document of extreme duo interaction, the sensuous private made public, the crude sexuality of Brötzmann’s early sides – Balls, Nipples – re-played as a devious creation myth. But Jesus what a sound!