Words About Music
If you know me, then you know I have a passion for drumming. And yes I know the drummer jokes. And it is for this reason that I see the drums as a truly underrated instrument. A drum pattern or riff can be just as memorable as a great guitar solo. Everyone knows the four-measure solo from Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” and the drum fill that brings Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight” to its grand finale, and Dave Grohl’s snare-bass pattern that precedes the first verse of “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” So why don’t drums get the respect they deserve? I think this is one of the questions Janet Weiss, Matt Cameron, and Zach Hill attempted to answer with their highly anticipated free-jazz explosion aptly titled “Drumgasm.”
Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney), Matt Cameron (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam), and Zach Hill (Hella, Death Grips) have all been separately praised for their signature drumming styles, and hearing them bring those styles to what should be the worst concept ever ends up becoming what could the be the most fun 40 minutes this year. There are no vocals, guitars, melodies, or even any actual songs. It’s just three musicians who got into a studio, unleashed improvised hell, and then left. This isn’t something you could play along to, it’s just something you listen to and try and figure out who played what.
One of the greatest things about this release is just how in sync these three drummers are. As cacophonous as it is, it still comes with a little bit of order. It’s not just a 20 minute drum roll followed by a 20 minute cymbal assault. It’s three drummers semi-anonymously exercising their talents together. It’s kind of like that documentary where the douchey guitarist from U2, the douchey guitarist from Led Zeppelin, and the douchey guitarist from The White Stripes recorded tracks together.
Another exciting thing is just how incredibly fast these people play. This isn’t like 40 minutes of a snare/bass/hi-hat rhythm you learn on the first day of drum lessons. This is sprinting the first few miles of a drumming marathon. The noise quiets down sometimes, sure, but it remains at basically the same high speed. I can’t even tell what time signature this thing is in. No metronomes or clicks. Just all out mayhem.
Hearing this album really has me excited for this “Drumgasm” project, ridiculous name aside. I really hope it becomes like a series of albums with three different drummers each time. How cool would it be to hear Dale Crover, John Stanier, and Damon Che battling it out in a small studio? This project is basically just what I was expecting it to be, and that’s an experiment in what an album can be. Drumgasm isn’t the first project to use a lot of drums and nearly zero melody, I’d say Yamantaka Eye of Boredoms wins that prize. But Drumgasm does take three incredibly talented people and have them collaborate on a jam session from hell, as opposed to trying to compete for “who’s the best drummer.”
SCORE – 7.9
FAVORITE TRACK – Drumgasm (that’s the name of the one song on here)