white out with jim o'rourke & thurston moore Senso (double CD, £5.10)label: Ecstatic Peace
White Out are indeed “white” and, in transcendence of such inherent nothingness, most definitely “out”. They are also Man and Wife. Lin Culbertson and Tom Surgal met in the still wild mania of 1986's New York City in front of CBGB's during a Big Black show (Steve Albini’s notorious Chicago trio of miscreant salutation). They were introduced by ex-Sonic Youth drummer Richard Edson and, after discovering mutual fascinations with the avant-garde marginalia of No Wave, Free Jazz, Noise Rock etc., began to play music in a secret location on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Surgal had been playing drums his entire life informed by the majestic energy of Elvin Jones, as well as the primal insolence of Bradley Field (of Teenage Jesus & The Jerks “fame”). Linn had come out of modern composition studies in Madison, Wisconsin. By the mid-'90s White Out had become one of the more interesting and increasingly stunning lights on a downtown scene that had kept a keen and critical eye on contemporary moves in improvised music. (Early on in this scheme, Thurston Moore had introduced Tom to No Wave guitar legend Rudolph Grey and the two men re-established Grey’s incendiary Blue Humans project, incorporating Thurston on intermittent second guitar, alongside a young Alan Licht.) Ecstatic Peace released the first White Out CD Red Shift in 1995, and in 2001 released Drunken Little Mass, an amazing recording with acclaimed multi-instrumentalist and music theoretician (and, at the time, Sonic Youth member/secret weapon) Jim O’Rourke. The All Tomorrows Parties label released the China Is Near CD in 2005, also with O’Rourke and employing the wizardry of William Winant, an acclaimed percussionist who has worked with John Cage, Iannis Xenakis and Cecil Taylor as well as being involved in an infamous trio with Surgal and Moore, which rears its head when the demons beckon. Senso is a live recording from two shows at the heralded and, sadly shut, Tonic Club in New York City on December 18, 2004. It was a lovely evening when O’Rourke and Moore, both of whom had played with White Out, but never together, would set the controls for the heart of the universe. Each set was its own distinct drama and captured the four players in a unified mind meld bringing the audience with them on a spirit-high journey.
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