Zack Baltich – Freehand
I suppose that there’s a subtle difference between improvisation and noodling. Perhaps it’s all in the ear of the observer, but my theory is that novelty and surprise are what make the difference and helps turn a musician into a great improviser.
Now, this can only go so far. The fact that we acknowledge someone to have played a good string of notes, regardless of our musical training, is down to the fact that we’re used to hearing certain sequences. In other words, there’s nothing truly new under the sun. However, hearing the millionth guitarist improvise in the style of Jimi Hendrix is, for many, hardly something beautiful and otherworldly at this point since they’ve heard it done a lot of times before.
Zack Baltich makes use of his own excitement at finding fresh rhythmical combinations and dragging them through modern technology as a means to force an x-factor that straight, human playing would not be able to provide. Freehand, his improvisation using xylophone, percussion and arpeggiator pedals, works just like a great post-rock song. It moves slowly, charting new territories through the medium of sound.
MSPAINT – Post-American
Well, I suppose if there was one thing that the original post-punk groups did well, it was to create an atmosphere of dread and some twisted musical compositions that were equally alluring and off-putting. In other words, if the punk-rockers pretended to be nasty people, those playing in post-punk bands usually looked like folks out on a mad bender.
Some of that level of aggression has gotten lost, and the revival of the genre has put an emphasis on style. Many of the newer “angry” styles are focused on stats like how low they can get their vocals or fast the guitar solos can be.
MSPAINT seem like a group of individuals that don’t much like pussyfooting around with trivial matters related to playing and presentation. In fact, they don’t seem to like anything a great deal, least of all other people. For these reasons, their rambunctious performance on Post-American is as gripping as someone holding a broken beer bottle to your throat.