Not to be confused with the Swedish band of the same name, the Norwegian Shining on “Blackjazz” miraculously managed to fuse the ethic of punk, free form jazz, progressive rock and industrial into an extraordinary combination of violence and aggression within the context of multifaceted and intelligent arrangements. “Live Blackjazz” as the name suggests features many of the tracks from those sessions in a live setting. To attempt to recreate the robot like precision and aggression of “Blackjazz” would itself appear to have been inhuman. But the live DVD that accompanies this release is visual proof that Shining are more than up to the task.
Fronted and produced by Jorgen Munkeby, mixed by Sean Beavan (Nine Inch Nails, Slayer, Marilyn Manson) and mastered by Tom Baker (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn manson), “Live Blackjazz” pushes the boundaries of both metal and jazz genres to facilitate a whole new experience of listening to both. The beauty of music such as this is that it will test the patience of the metal fan and the fan of experimental jazz. There are sections of saxophone that are reminiscent of early free jazz, and then there are sections of keyboard which are reminiscent of early 1970’s progressive rock, followed by grandeur sections of choral vocal which, just when you thought you had the measure of the piece, launch into frantic, grindcore metal passages.
The opening track “Fisheye” is built upon a dynamic riff which fires off blasts of saxophone and keyboard theatrics to keep the casual listener on their toes, whilst “The Madness and the Damage Done” is delivered with such sinister throat searing ferocity and frenetic instrumentation that the incessant repetition halfway through the track comes as blessed relief. “Goretex Weather Report”, whilst being one of the best song titles this listener has heard in a while, is a piece so motivated by mathematical complexity that fans of “progressive” music will be delighted and perplexed in equal measure.
Possibly one of the more straight forward extreme jazz pieces “Healter Skelter”, is laden with stadium sized guitar and frantic saxophone that has clearly been informed by late 1960’s European improvisation, and the work of Peter Brotzmann amongst others. If the listener needs an anchor to make sense of such multifaceted compositions, there is a cover of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” to close the album, which is as doom laden and spectacularly majestic as they may have come to expect by that stage. “Live Blackjazz”, like “Blackjazz” is brutal, but proficient, and will hopefully gain Munkeby and Shining a wider audience pool comprised of the fans of the many contrasting elements from which this music is drawn.