Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Soldiers of Fortune at Max Fish

In 2004, bassist Brad Truax of Interpol and Spiritualized conceived of an anti-band in which several musicians would gather periodically to play together but never write songs, rehearse, tour, record or make any products for public consumption. Soldiers of Fortune came together as an anarchic improvisational collective, but a traditional convention snuck in and a debut album, Early Risers, will be released on November 6, 2015. The loose collective consists of Truax, drummer Kid Millions (Man Forever, Oneida), keyboardist Barry London (Oneida), and guitarists Matt Sweeney (Chavez ), Jesper Eklow (Endless Boogie), Mike Strallow (a.k.a. Mike Bones), and Patrick Sullivan (a.k.a. Papa Crazee of Oneida and Oakley Hall).

Soldiers of Fortune performed at a record release party in the basement of Max Fish tonight. Stephen Malkmus (Pavement, Steve Malkmus & the Jicks), who contributed to the album, joined the core anti-band for the evening. The club had no stage, sound system or lighting system. Instead, instruments and amplifiers were lined lengthwise along a narrow hallway. Eventually, the musicians began gathering and tuning their instruments. At an undefined moment, the tuning evolved into the composition. The five guitarists, the keyboardist, the bassist, and the drummer turned toward the center of their grouping and mostly stared at their instruments or kept their eyes closed, never once looking up at the audience of about 50 people. No one seemed to be directing either the general compass or the solos. The octet played one improvisational piece for over an hour, slowing down and speeding up, with sporadic grunts, howls and chants from several musicians. For the listener, the experience perhaps was at times harrowing and grating, and at times magnetic and hypnotic. Spontaneous chaos rubbed against instantaneous creativity, swinging from unconstruction into lucid construction and then back into deconstruction. What happened tonight can never happen again -- at least not exactly.