28 June 2019 (released)
27 June 2019
It isn’t common for an album to shock you quite as much as this album by 75 Dollar Bill but shock it did and a brilliant shock it is too.
75 Dollar Bill are essentially a duo – Rick Brown (multi talented percussionist) and Che Chen (guitars) – plus assorted friends and musicians.
My first reaction to hearing the opening track ‘Every Last Coffee Or Tea’ was that this was an African troupe, possibly Malian or even Moroccan, with the heavy reliance on a central guitar over a drone of other rhythmic instruments. The sound eventually developing a fixed rhythms that allows the guitar to play free and follow its own path. The number is dense, intense and almost painfully enveloping – I found myself having to remember to breathe.
But then ‘C. Or T -Verso’ rips all the extraneous instrumentation away and the song develops into something very like a number by John Cage. Equally intense, dark and edgy but not as deeply involving.
Every track on the album has a unique combination of rhythms and riffs - ‘Tetuzi Akiyama’ was named for the guitarist and intended to part of a series of numbers named for famous guitarist and just seems to follow a repeated riff over a heavy bass rhythm, ‘New New II. The Worm III. Like Laundry’ sets up a lighter riff and allows the bass to follow another journey entirely until the drone re-appears and completely takes the number over.
It is an album that cannot be clearly explained – the reviewer’s nightmare – but needs to be experienced, only then will the listener understand the music and, in doing so, become part of the music.
In many ways it reminds me of the orchestrated version of Lou Reed’s ‘Metal Machine Music’ – it is harsh and occasionally sounds quite mechanical but there is a depth to this music and a hearkening back to the origins of music that is important and quite wonderful.