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Recommended Listening: Gutbucket

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I just got home from a really impressive performance by some MSU student musicians at East Lansing’s SCENE Metrospace gallery. I don’t know what the name of their group is, but if you ever get the chance to hear Alex Kreger, Kevin Bene, Susanna Mendlow, and Ryan Ptasnik, you should do it. They play a compelling blend of avant-garde jazz and folk music. I don’t have a recording of these guys, but listening to them tonight reminded me a lot of a group called Gutbucket, that I heard several years at Mizzou.

It is music that includes a lot of extremes. Sometimes it is very tightly controlled and intricate. At other times it seems simply out-of-control in a very appealing way. Often, these two sounds are jammed against one another to create some great textural counterpoint. Check out some of their albums on Amazon: Dry Humping The American Dream and Sludge Test, the latter of which includes a truly incredible transcription (do we still call it that?) of Olivier Messiaen’s “Dance of the Furies” from the Quartet for the End of Time.

  • Nick Strong

    Oh man, I’m so glad someone else listens to Gutbucket. I saw them open for the World/Inferno Friendship Society about 3 years ago (Ken also plays saxophone in that band), and they were incredible live. Their album A Modest Proposal is absolutely fantastic.

    • David MacDonald

      They are such badass players that play so well together. It’s really hard not to like them. I can’t say I follow them super-closely, so I didn’t find out about A Modest Proposal until I was looking for the links to the other two albums on Amazon. I just downloaded it. If it’s as good as the other two, I’m pretty sure I’ll be blogging about it in the future. Those guys are something else. When I heard them at Mizzou, it was a really informal thing with about 8-10 composers/jazz players sitting around them in a circle in the band room. It really changed the way I think about the relationship between concert music and popular music.

  • Nick Strong

    That’s pretty awesome. My experience was kind of opposite, I saw them at a punk show, in a tiny club in Detroit, and the crowd loved it. This crowd of punks were moshing and dancing to this avant-garde jazz/rock stuff and it was pretty remarkable. Probably one of the most memorable concerts I’ve been to (especially since World/Inferno followed them, and put on the best live show I’ve ever seen).