The Peter Br̦tzmann Octet РThe Complete Machine Gun Sessions

Peter Brötzmann Octet - The Complete Machine Gun SessionsThere are three different types of people who will listen to this album. The first person will plug their ears after 10 seconds and turn it off. The second person will continue listening, not out of the respect to the music, but out of morbid curiosity: “Is this a joke? When does the music start?” The third person will listen to the album, listen to it again, and keep on listening. Digging deeper with every nuance of Brötzmann’s music, the listener will find himself faced with the unknown derived from familiarity. It is harsh, brutal and unforgiving — but also captivating and mesmerizing.

As the story goes, three things in particular make this album unique. First, Brötzmann employs an octet for the recording of this album. While octets in jazz are not new, they are uncommon (7 years later, Ornette Coleman used an octet for the recording of his album Free Jazz, but he split it up into two quartets who played simultaneously rather than eight musicians playing all at once). The second thing is that they recorded the album not in a studio but rather at a nightclub in Germany, which provided poor acoustics. This worked in Brötzmann’s favor, however, as it added to the “dense”-ness of the album. The third thing that is unique about the record is the music itself.

Yes, it is chaoctic. Brötzmann and Co. play their instruments to the breaking point, with blasts of drums piercing the wails of saxophones and basses. Yes, it is dissonant. There seems to be no trace of melody. In fact, the only time a semblance of song structure creeps in is about 15 minutes into the title track, but the walls of noise soon overtake it. Nevertheless, this is not music that is made simply to be listened to a couple times. It’s something to reflect; examine. It is music that has to be felt.

This new 2007 remaster by Atavistic includes the original LP, and adds two more alternate takes from the same session. There is also a live version of the title track performed two months prior to the studio sessions at the Frankfurt Jazz Festival in 1968. The original LP tracks are great by themselves, but the added material really adds more to the album. The live version in particular is sensational.

Overall, it is a simply astounding piece of work, and one that has few peers in the music archives.

4 out of 4

Order this CD

  1. Machine Gun (17:19)
  2. Responsible/For Jan Van De Ven (8:20)
  3. Music for Han Bennink (11:29)
  4. Machine Gun (Second Take) (15:01)
  5. Responsible/For Jan Van De Ven (First Take) (10:08)
  6. Machine Gun (Live) (17:40)

Released by: Atavistic
Release date: 1968 (re-released 2007)
Total running time: 79:53