Hash Jar Tempo - "Under Glass"
(Drunken Fish 1999, DFR-44)
From Aural Innovations #7 (July 1999)
Two of the more well-known entities in cosmic drone-rock, i.e., Philadelphia's Bardo Pond and New Zealand's Roy Montgomery, have once again met up to produce a follow-up to their 1997 "Well Oiled" disc. Obviously, their moniker was chosen in jest to acknowledge their German forefathers Ash Ra Tempel. I would classify Krautrock often as hypnotic but rarely droney, so these modern groups are innovators in their own right, whether you stay awake through their music or not.
The opener, "Präludium und Fuge. D - Moll," is ten minutes of freaked-out guitar noises and other sonic effects coating a backdrop of a guitar drone that cleverly simulates a person's slow breathing... sound is seemingly sucked in for a spell, and then exhaled outwards. Next, the white noise of "Labiomancy" starts up and though there are constantly-moving lines present, the sameness of pace and volume effectively creates a unwavering monotone. Psychotic sax honking takes the lead in "Sources in Cleveland," which is buoyed some by pulsing bass and slow-moving drumming. "Hymenoptera in Amber Crybaby" best recalls Gottsching's work via continuous, fluid guitar soloing, and ebbs and swells in the slightly phased rhythm track - a real high point. "Gravitational Lens Opera" winds up the album in strong fashion, adopting a more upbeat jangly guitar sound.
The material presented here has its ups and downs, but offers a few gems that improve greatly upon Hash Jar Tempo's mediocre first effort. Of course, music of this nature (i.e., instrumental music with little in the way of distinct heterogeneity) won't appeal to the average rock 'n' roll fan. But those who find comfort in the sweet drone of Slowdive or Windy & Carl will probably feel right at home here, though Hash Jar Tempo offer a bit more edge and tension. I'm generally content to listen to this kind of music for 30 minutes or so at a crack, so with some simple track programming on the ole CD changer, I'm happy to slip on "Under Glass" and select my faves.
For more information you can visit the Drunken Fish Records web site.
Reviewed by Keith Henderson