Music

The Jeff Gauthier Goatette: Open Source

Cryptogramophone founder Jeff Gauthier and his Goatette carry on, business as usual. As usual, business is good.


Open Source

Label: Cryptogramophone
US Release Date: 2011-10-11
Label website
Artist website

Musicians tend to make pretty decent label bosses. When I saw Adrian Legg perform several years ago, he extolled his new label, Favored Nations, because it was "run by a guitar player." Violinist Jeff Gauthier is a triple-threat in this regard; he runs the Cryptogramophone label, produces some pretty happening names such as Jenny Scheinman and Erik Friedlander, and he's one terrific bandleader. On top of all of that, he plays jazz violin like a bat out of hell, swinging the instrument by its tail and knocking over jars in the jazz, classical, and rock fusion departments in the process. Last time out, Gauthier's modern jazz combo, The Goatette, was greeted with a year-end approving nod from Slate's Fred Kaplan. Indeed, House of Return was a highpoint for music on the fringes in 2008, and its follow-up Open Source is just as good.

And when you are the founder of a label that enjoys a great critical reputation like Cryptogramophone, you have your pick of the litter when it comes to assembling a band. The usual suspects, guitarist Nels Cline and his twin brother drummer Alex, are on board as is label mate pianist David Witham. John Fumo supplies trumpet to act as unison for Nels Cline's guitar while Joel Hamilton holds things down on the bass. To call this brand of jazz "eclectic" is an understatement. Its opener, "40 Lashes (With Mascara)", doesn't swing so much as it stabs. There aren't as many build-ups as there are kitchen accessory crashes that occur with very little foreshadowing. This isn't violent jazz, just very confrontational.

Gauthier doesn't spend much time in the "free" territory, keeping his Goatette at bay during each go round. "Prelude to a Bite" and Whitman's original "From a Rainy Night" spin melodies in a pretty structured way, though to what genre they belong isn't as straightforward. The former's chromatic up-and-down motion particularly rides a predictable rail. But it's what's loaded in the boxcars on top that matters, like Fumo's instinctual solo. And until hearing the aforementioned "From a Rainy Night", I never realized that a trumpet and violin could blend so easily. The closest the album comes to a free breakdown is "Seashells and Balloons", which deceptively starts with Gauthier and Fumo gently batting back and forth a rather simple figure. The counter-melody takes hold, and despite Alex Cline's caterwauling, the piece is still held in a steady sway. But then, are the axles breaking down and dragging, or is there some serious telepathy going on between these six guys? They probably want you to have the impression of one while secretly indulging in the other.

Open Source ends with the title track, worthy of extra discussion since it occupies nearly 25% of the disc. Sounding unlike anything that came before it, this is Gauthier's classical influence gliding across the sky while Nels Cline supplies serene clouds of noise that, much like the world above us, can easily be taken for granted. As the song progresses, these bubbling sounds become slightly more active but never steal the show. Although the sighing lines that Gauthier and Fumo carry along here are not very indicative of Open Source as a whole, they demonstrate how Jeff Gauthier's inspiration is an everlasting thing and not just academic mimicry. And so it goes with the man who set one of modern jazz's finest and most creative labels in motion – through the years, album after album, the talk has been walked. Open Source continues the tradition.

7

Music

Books

Film

Recent
Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Music

The Cradle's 'Laughing in My Sleep' Is an Off-kilter Reflection of Musical Curiosity

The Cradle's Paco Cathcart has curated a thoughtfully multifarious album. Laughing in My Sleep is an impressive collection of 21 tracks, each unapologetic in their rejection of expectations.

Music

Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.

Film

'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.

Music

'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"

Music

Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.

Music

The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".

Music

GLVES Creates Mesmerizing Dark Folktronica on "Heal Me"

Australian First Nations singer-songwriter GLVES creates dense, deep, and darkish electropop that mesmerizes with its blend of electronics and native sounds on "Heal Me".

Music

Otis Junior and Dr. Dundiff Tells Us "When It's Sweet" It's So Sweet

Neo-soul singer Otis Junior teams with fellow Kentuckian Dr. Dundiff and his hip-hop beats for the silky, groovy "When It's Sweet".

Music

Lars and the Magic Mountain's "Invincible" Is a Shoegazey, Dreamy Delight (premiere)

Dutch space pop/psychedelic band Lars and the Magic Mountain share the dreamy and gorgeous "Invincible".

Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

Music

Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.

Music

Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.

Music

The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".

Music

Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.

Books

Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews



Features
Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.