Thursday, December 7, 2006
In Praise of Inca Ore
There's been some fascinating debates on various blogs and listservs since September on the legitimacy of "primitivism" in improv music, and on whether people who appreciate improv/noise are inherently in a higher state of evolution than those who insist on musical structure. OK, I admit it, I've been tossing some well-meaning grenades at those who just don't grasp free-form improv. But isn't it deserved? Don't you get a little tired of 4/4 time?
The most interesting debate of late has been between the print magazine Rock-A-Rolla, and the online music review journal Tiny Mix Tapes, which recently reviewed the album Birds in the Bushes by Inca Ore and the Lemon Bear Orchestra. The reviewer ragged on a Rock-a-Rolla writer for calling Inca's work "absolute nonsense," and suggested you had to be a more highly evolved creature to grok what she was doing. Maybe this is harshly judgmental, but the TMT reviewer is right: if you don't understand what Inca Ore, a/k/a Eva Saelens, is doing, maybe you're just too stupid.
Inca, a native of mid-Michigan, was with several Portland bands before gravitating toward the Bay Area improv and noise scene courtesy of Yellow Swans. Her early stuff on Jyrk used a chanting voice to yield a musical version of Finnegan's Wake, particularly on A Knit of My Own Fibers and the expanded vinyl Brute Nature vs. Wild Magic. The reviewer battle this summer was over the merits of a strange and widely distributed CD she produced on the 5 Rue Christine label with a guy from Oakland named Lemon Bear. In the midst of chanting, jangling, and frightening sounds, she's toured with Jackie-O Motherfucker to give Tom's band a little more soul. Just in time for Christmas, Inca and Lemon Bear have teamed up with the Eureka, Calif. improv geniuses, Starving Weirdos, for a special jam CD-R. She's also done a duo CD-R with Tom Carter from Charalambides, called Rainbow Trout. Inca/Eva does not make "absolute nonsense." You either realize her name will be recognized in several decades, a la Terry Riley, Diamanda Galas, John Cage, or else you're stooooopid.