TTW#77 – Black Spirituals – High Vibration Resonance Vol.1
A: Black Zenith I
B: Black Zenith II
Illustration – SavX
Zachary James Watkins: electronics. Marshall Trammell: percussion. Recorded live at Disjecta Art Gallery on August 30th, 2014 by Daniel Menche. Mastered by Jacob Felix Huele. 1+1=3.
Black Spirituals’ performance involves the manipulation of temporal experience using a framework of dynamic relationships and a “Multi-Aesthetic Approach to Improvisation.” The title “Black Spirituals” is borrowed from a found cassette documenting a lecture given by Bernice Reagon on the roots music of American black slaves. These stories form a sonic resonance that speaks of rich relationships to ones surroundings, memories, profound feelings, dreams, and the experiences that inspire human expression. This duet features a new tradition in conversant, duo vernacular dynamics that sparked a revolution in our conceptions of space, stage, ritual, performance, geography, praxis, brotherhood, relationships, rockin’ out, and more.
The Wire (UK):
Cool live set by this Oakland duo, who combine guitar based electronics and drum improvs into the large tornados of ear-wrasse. The drums move around with lazy muscularity, shifting sideways into clumps of sound. And the guitar is more like blocks of muted sound – loud, but somewhat muzzled. As curious in its own was as Biota were in theres.
The Quietus (UK):
The improvising duo of Zachary James Watkins and percussionist Marshall Trammell perform gnarled noisy conversational freeforms under the name Black Spirituals. That name purportedly originated as the title of an interview cassette featuring Bernice Reagon discussing North American slaves’ roots music, but it was also the name of a solo cassette tape put out by Watkins on The Tapeworm back in 2010. The formulation of a duet with Marshall Trammell takes Watkins' own music to the next level, and “High Vibration Resonance Vol.1” draws its power from the medium energy conversational nature of the pair’s noisy clatter. They’re in fact currently touring with drone rock’s godparents, Earth, and this writer had the chance to catch them play in London recently. Watkins unfurled the same sort of meandering drones as heard here, although more oriented around the guitar with a few passages of hard rocking riffage nestled therein (it may well be the same input he’s using, but here he’s credited merely with ‘electronics’), but in person, all eyes fall on the beguiling Trammell. The man pays with an indescribably primordial energy, and somehow makes the drums sound like an almost new concept to all in the room. This live document from August 2014 presents us with two 20 minute jams, often finding Watkins maintaining a handful of ear-crunching tones, for dozens of seconds, or even minutes at a time. Meanwhile Trammell endlessly wanders his sticks around the kit, playing with the rarest sort of counter-intuition, avoiding all known tropes at all costs, identifying geometric shapes we didn’t even know existed and criss-crossing them to form as of yet undiscovered patterns. For all intents and purposes, they’re going nowhere slowly - Watkins resonating aimlessly away, almost like a man struggling with broken equipment, and Trammell tinkling away like an overactive kid at his first drum lesson – but it gradually takes on a sort of deeply affective funereal atmosphere. It’s intensely uncomfortable to listen to, but just as tough to switch off. [Tristan Bath]
Captivating improvisations consolidating dextrous free-jazz, rock and electronics by Oakland, CA, USA’s Zachary James Watkins and Marshall Trammell aka Black Spirituals. Currently in the midst of a massive Euro tour with Earth, the duo collude with The Tapeworm to present this damn fine expo – 150 copies for the merch-stall and 50 for everybody else – of a coversant sound inspired by roots American black music whose relevance is still striking today. Trammell’s percussion and Watkins’ electronics play out a dynamic relationship of expressive ritual and peromative space, generating oblique and compatible patterns in a constant tussle of cooperative resolution and bristling conflict unfolding in real time.