Noisey Blog

Brain Melters - Chris Corsano Nat Roe


Time travel involves a lot of complicated shit. You know that Peter Fonda movie Idaho Transfer? Apparently it’s tough to send pants at warp speed along with a human traveller, and it might be the same with hairstyles—check out Chris Corsano. Dude looks like he's from 1971. Check out the psychedelic obliteration his drum sticks dish out. His hair must’ve been ass-length before he hopped in Doc Brown’s Delorean.

Corsano releases music on ESP-Disk, a fantastic free jazz and psych label that released some of the best outness of the 60s and 70s. Now they’re becoming more of a psychic force into the New Weird America. The Flower-Corsano duo, embedded above, channels vibrations straight from the psyched-out ragas of La Monte Young, or the fusion-era genius of Rashied Ali. Seeing their free-floating improvisations in concert on a bill next to the Grateful Dead evangelists MV&EE was pretty much Olympian—a haze of weed smoke hovered above a completely motionless audience, totally transfixed on the force of nature onstage.

Mick Flower, known primarily for his work with seminal folk-droners Vibracathedral Orchestra, is only one example of the heavy hitters that Corsano has improvised with in innumerable contexts. The only thing that’s more impressive than his spastic, virtuosic playing is the variety of styles he’s recorded.

I first got into his playing when he was the hectic force beneath stoned psych-folksters Six Organs Of Admittance. After breaking through the psychic barriers of traditional harmony and melody, I discovered Corsano’s freer improvs, with collaborators like Paul Flaherty, C. Spencer Yeh, Thurston Moore, and Joe McPhee. In these experimental groups, Corsano makes expert use of “extended” drumming, which means that he uses methods that go against the intended use and sound of the equipment. You can hear some extra-musical effects from throwing blocks of wood against the drum set, playing cymbals with his mouth, or bowing the set like a violin.

In an interview with Perfect Sound Forever, Corsano mused that "a cymbal is simultaneously both a cymbal and a piece of metal. And in a pinch, it's a hat, or a Frisbee, or an umbrella. It's all how you look at it." Like ESP’s output, Chris Corsano manages to keep one foot in the world of psych and one in the world of free jazz. His most longstanding collaborative partner is with the grey-bearded sax legend Paul Flaherty—their "hated music" duo has been joined by many improvisers but is always a violent clusterfuck of free jazz skronk, some of the best of the post-Ayler musical negiverse.

The mentally melted label Ultra Eczema also released an amazing album of Corsano’s solo work last year. The clattering, kitchen sink approach to drumming on this 12-inch stands on its own as one of the most listenable solo drum recordings from "the last drummer on earth". The label secured the tracks after they "begged him on wounded knees to record an LP. [Corsano] played it cool, was clearly annoyed but remained polite. From then on I would email him the same question daily. I slept in a tent in front of his house, sent him letters every week, had all his different cell phone numbers, I even gave him new clothes, though he kept wearing his fully blue outfit."

Previously - PC Worship