Crazy Doberman take us on unwieldy free-improvised journeys with Two Tales of Lost Witness Marks | Music Review | Chicago Reader

Crazy Doberman take us on unwieldy free-improvised journeys with Two Tales of Lost Witness Marks 

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click to enlarge The cover art for Two Tales of Lost Witness Marks by Crazy Doberman.

The cover art for Two Tales of Lost Witness Marks by Crazy Doberman.

Courtesy the artist

Crazy Doberman are an Indiana free-improvisation and jazz collective created in 2016 as an offshoot of the group Doberman, started three years before. Core members, including Tim Gick and Doberman cofounder Drew Davis, appear on many recordings, but Crazy Doberman’s lineup is loose—it varies on each of the band’s 40-plus albums and has featured dozens of musicians, among them Wolf Eyes’ John Olson and percussionist Tyler Damon. While different albums have different flavors—This Land God Has Abandoned is all brooding mystique, while --- / Haunted, Non / Haunted features some of their most acerbic electronics—there’s a tightness and sustained energy on every recording. Their latest LP, Two Tales of Lost Witness Marks (Aguirre), employs eight performers on two long-form tracks that unfurl at a steady, enveloping pace. “Tale One in Five Parts” begins plainly enough, with chimes and droning, and then revs into something more ominous by bringing in synths, a steady bass line, and weeping strings. It’s equal parts murky and mischievous, and when its first section eventually comes to a sudden halt, it segues into a cavernous soundscape defined by filigrees of piano, voice, and more strings. The piece goes on to mutate into two other distinct passages, but the thoughtful pacing and arrangements consistently maintain a disorienting mood that leaves listeners ready for whatever sonic reverie the band provide next. The B side, “Tale Two in Four Parts,” by contrast opens with numerous sharp edits that disrupt any smooth flow. This heady passage acts as an intoxicating entryway to a loose, spiraling psychedelic jam that eventually climaxes with noisy haze. The track’s second half grows even more immersive, and by its final section it sounds like a live improv set in the middle of a tornado. But even through a storm, Crazy Doberman stay cohesive. Play Two Tales loud and feel its power take hold of you.   v

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