WTF albums: 1.ANDRE VIDA & LEZET - INVASIVE
2.LEZET - MELD4
3.LEZET - CAGED?
4.LEZET - DISTORTED PIANO RECORDINGS
Tags: jazz, improvisation, guided improvisation, free improvisation, experimental, spoken word, avant-jazz, avant-garde, jazz-electro, free jazz, eclectic
WTF quality: Strange but humorous amalgamations of familiar and unfamiliar sound materials, some live, some data-mined, some electronic, all mixed together and left to marinade in their own juices.
Lifespan: 2009 -
Some people might see Lezet as just another Serbian bloke who makes sound sculptures, but clever people like me, who talk loudly in restaurants, hear in his work a craftsmanship and sheer stubbornness far beyond the everyday, and, if we can be bothered, set about proving it.
He is most definitely not an easy creature to catch, and struggles furiously when you try, occasionally biting back.
He is certainly prolific (38 albums, as of today's date, but what's today, Thursday? I expect one around half past two); but does quantity mean quality?
I'm delighted to say in Lezet's case the answer is a jubilant "yes"; variety, brevity and quality of source material contribute to an astounding array of challenging, not to say (indeed as he says himself) annoying music that gets both into your head like a manic weevil, and up your nose like a cotton bud wrapped in steel wool.
He bills himself as a "one-man music project", and enjoys being likened to John Cage, or "Zorn without the Saxophone", but these are not fair representations of his style and energy, and certainly not his individuality.
Andre Vida & Lezet - Invasive.
Here's how I imagine it went down:-
1. Andre Vida and Lezet met for brunch.
2. They consumed a quantity of diced, raw cheetahs, with rocket-propellant sauce.
3. Someone said "Let's make an album, now."
4. Lezet won the toss, and got use of the scalpel.
The result of this dangerous game was a three-piece suite; two matching armchairs ("Bastardation" (sic) and "Bastardation (variation)") flanking a hefty sofa ("Warped"), but what's "Invasive" about that? Simply the fabric in which they are covered; a sort of gnarly, irritating moquette commonly used in station waiting rooms, or to make you feel even more uncomfortable at the rash clinic. The threads of this curious cloth are provided by the transients, key-clacks and mouthpiece chewings of Andre Vida, who is doubtless a stirring saxophonist; it's just that Lezet has not left enough of Mr. Vida's work to allow an opinion to be formed. I am glad though that there are a few tempting morsels of riffs and nitrous-oxide fueled high-end runs, sufficient to entice me into further acquaintance with his output.
This is the kind of intricate upholstery on which several TV dinners have been spilled, on which much fumbling love has been made by carefree teenagers, and within which opinion is divided as to the size, density and potency of the microbes that are an inevitable result. If you are the gambling type, though, it's well worth the risk of contagion to lounge around in it for the nearly 31 minutes of it's duration, if only to boast that you have passed the "aural challenge".
The overall effect of Lezet's take on furniture music is to make you fidget, but that's a good thing. It makes you pay close attention to what might be crawling up your trouser leg. That's what is "Invasive" about it.
Lezet - MELD4
And so we move on to lot Meld4, a nest of occasional tables constructed lovingly in the style of the early 21st century. Notice, if you will, the discreet, understated design, with each piece growing progressively in size and complexity. (At this point (I'm glad to relate) our furniture correspondent takes a well-earned sabbatical.)
This work approaches a more "does what it says on the tin" attitude, and Lezet has mind-melded (cf. Star Trek) with a whole bunch of other musicians to produce four pieces in a host of mouth-watering combinations of artists and styles. The roll-call here is impressive:- not least John Hughes on Double Bass and Lars Scherzberg on Saxophone, but also the "lesser luminaries"; Frederique Bruyas (France), Xabier Iriondo (Italy), [-hyph-] aka Nicolas Wiese (Germany), Total Oral Maniac (France), Bryan Lewis Saunders (USA), Josep Damman (USA), Matthias Boss (Switzerland). Don't be fooled into thinking that this is just another homage to free-jazz, for Lezet puts his own very individual stamp on it from beat one, and doesn't once loosen his Vulcan Death Grip on the virtual baton.
I have to be honest and say that I still prefer the earlier Meld2, but 4 does have more depth spatially, and is not quite as "in your face"; 2 is like being attacked by Spanish hornets on crack, whereas 4 is more like being jeered at by Jamaican ants on weed. It's just a matter of how you prefer your infestation.
Again this is challenging; again it rewards patience; again you will be dazzled by the rapid restlessness and jittery brushstrokes of a man armed with nothing but some soundclips, an industrial bacon-slicer, and a dream.
Lezet - Caged?
This time Our Hero takes on the Holy of Holies, John Cage no less, but fear not. This is a cheeky "tip o' the hat" to Cage's prepared piano works.
It appears that no innocent pianos were harmed in the making of these ten short pieces, as Lezet seems to have sampled a pre-prepared piano previously in preparation or post-produced a posted prepared piano or not. You work it out.
This is not an entirely serious work, as you can gather from the blurb uploaded by the "long-awaited" netlabel that it purports to launch, but I'm not going to hazard a guess as to where the samples themselves originated.
This is well worth a listen, if you have 15 minutes to spare, if only for the unexplained use of "the first sound file ever, recorded by Edouard-Leon de Martinville on the Phonoautograph (1860)" in the last track on the EP.
Lezet - Distorted Piano Recordings
This is a recording of piano music...erm....distorted. So what?
Wait. That isn't the only point he's trying to make. This is probably the biggest challenge of the lot.
Although he's left the piano tracks in there, he doesn't want you to listen to them. They're only in there as a guide. There are further instructions from His Majesty:- listen to the distortion. Listen carefully to the distortion. You will start to notice that although the levels on the distortion don't change, the distortion itself changes in texture, the piano lines do different things. Playing chords introduces harmonics into the distortion; playing counterpoint introduces sidebands that change the output "in surprising ways".
The annoyance here (and I don't know whether it's intentional) is that all these tracks are recorded at approaching 0db, and just stay there. It's very difficult to follow the instructions when your eardrum membranes are getting peeled away one layer at a time. I urge you to turn the volume down to 4% (not by, to) before pressing play.
Otherwise, it's a beautiful use of a known phenomenon. The track lengths vary; the first is just over 16 minutes, but the next is only 3 or so, and the last only 1' 22'', but what the fuck, come on, feel the noise.
Lezet's work is available on several different netlabels, among them the embryonic suRRism-Phonoethics, and the more mature Meatronic, both of which hide a wealth of material for your further edification.