Barker, Simon / Henry Kaiser / Bill Laswell / Rudresh Mahanthappa - Mudang Rock

SKU Fractal 2018-801
Simon Barker – drums
Henry Kaiser – guitar
Bill Laswell – bass
Rudresh Mahanthappa – alto saxophone
Soo-Yeon Lyuh – haegum on 3
Tania Chen – piano on 4
Danielle DeGruttola – cello on 4

“In Korean mythology, a mudang is a type of shaman who has become possessed by a god, called a momju. Mudang perform fortune telling using their spiritual powers derived from their possession. They preside over a kut (rite) involving song and dance.
Mudang Rock, the revelatory new album from guitarist Henry Kaiser, uses Korean shamanism as the bedrock for an extraordinary voyage into improvisation and collaboration that reaches far beyond boundaries of genre. It is also the most profound document of Kaiser’s decades-long quest to fuse Korean traditions with his myriad interests in art and music, following his work on the acclaimed releases Invite the Spirit (1983), Sargeng (1990), KomunGuitar (1993), Invite the Spirit 2006, and Megasonic Chapel (2015).
Joining the guitarist are three of the most compelling figures in creative music today, including two musicians who’ve undertaken their own distinguished explorations of Korean sounds. Longtime fans of electric bassist Bill Laswell, a Downtown icon whose credits extend from the boldest names in the avant-garde to pop and rock stars, will recall his band SXL, which combined jazz and world-music heavyweights with the Korean percussion ensemble SamulNori. Australia’s Simon Barker, a fiercely gifted drummer and educator working in jazz and experimental music, helped bring Korea’s rhythmic history to a global audience as the focal point of the award-winning documentary Intangible Asset No. 82. Directed by Emma Franz (Bill Frisell: A Portrait), it captures Barker’s abiding obsession with Korean drumming and follows him throughout his inspiring journey to meet the reclusive shaman and master musician Kim Seok-chul. Filling out the quartet is Rudresh Mahanthappa, among the most decorated saxophonists in current jazz and a revered composer and bandleader of rare cross-cultural insights.
The ensemble’s singular chemistry results in an ecstatic and surprising kaleidoscope of sonics and improvisation, interweaving Korean shamanism with the cellular structural approach of Cecil Taylor, Ornette Coleman’s Harmolodics, the Carnatic tradition of South India, the Afrocentric expressionism of Miles Davis’ Agharta/Pangaea period, and much more. “One very special thing about Mudang Rock is that it combines more elements than are generally put together in any sort of fusion,” Kaiser says, before naming further influences like Stockhausen, Captain Beefheart, British free improvisation from the 1970s, Albert Ayler, late-period John Coltrane, and rhythms from Polynesia and Melanesia.
In the end, however, Mudang Rock is for Kaiser a matter of spirit more than achievement. “Over my decades of exploring Korean music fusion, the bottom line is always: When we invite the Spirit, did it show up?” he explains. “That’s the other thing that I most enjoyed about playing this music and listening to it now. The Spirits are there with us, lifting us up and beyond into musical realms that we had never quite experienced before. Not only was this one of my favorite recording experiences ever, it is exactly the kind of music I love to listen to again and again.”

  • LabelFractal Music
  • UPC888295794510
Your Price $10.00

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