3 out of 5
Produced by: Colin Marston (recorded by)
What a bizzarely funky, and post-rock-y Flying Luttenbachers album.
Within the evolving sphere of Luttenbachers and Walter Weasel projects, I’ve certainly heard many, many things, splintering off of a jazz-rock focus point and into more traditional jazz improv, or death metal, or noise, or the utter spazzed out blasts the Luttenbachers have tended to favor – with the level of insanity and intensity maybe varying per album. But interestingly, on a disc with a name like Imminent Death – that is, looming mortality – the Weasel (drums and more), Matt Nelson (sax and more), Tim Dahl (bass), Brandon Seabrook and Henry Kaiser (guitars) arrangement have slowed things down and relatively simplified, giving us a solid kick-beat and bomping bass line for nearly 20 minutes, through openers Praalude and Get the Fuck Out. Mind you, some of this is a feint – there’s plenty of spazz in there, with guitars freaking out and Walter stuffing insane fills inbetween beats, but the group keeps returning to that central beat, and Weasel’s mix (and Colin Marston’s recording) very much highlight this.
There’s a bit of letting loose on 7 and 7 is not, but it’s still a moderately “restrained” Luts variant, led by Nelson’s squealing sax while the rest of the group maintains a peppier, but still rather consistent, backbeat. Midway through, the guitars take center stage, and then the various layers join together for the song’s final third.
This is wild stuff compared to “normal” jazz rock improv, though it’s very much Walter giving all of his bandmates the spotlight, with he and Dahl keeping time. Is that a bad thing? Heck, not at all, but it’s a newish approach (at least amidst the Luttenbacher albums I own), and somewhat lends the whole beginning half of the album a bit of homogenousness.
The dam breaks: Grants, Residences and Trust Funds is full-on spazz, with mid-song rhythmic deconstructions and electronic asides.
But again proving that there’s some constructional oversight to the album, White Wine and White Lines returns to the beat-with-flourish setup, now with Weasel and Dahl hitting on a very fast-paced patter, while noise and horns and atonal guitar freak out atop. Serial Plagarism is pretty comparatively chill, slowing things down for a rather traditional modern jazz feel (maybe that title is telling?), and then closer The Stomp has a rather humorously poppy and mundane beat and bassline for our other players to squiggle upon.
The record plays together well; the bass-heavy mix and consistent presence of a beat make it a very head-bobbing affair. The mix and balance of who takes the lead feels like somewhat of an experiment, though; not an unwelcome one in the litany of brilliance from the always-experimenting Weasel, but a couple notches less grabbing and fist-pumpingly madness-inspiring as a “regular” Luttenbachers joints.