Ed Schrader's Music Beat - Jazz Mind
"This is my sermon" shouts Ed Schrader, after just over 5 seconds of noisy, almost incomprehensible lyrical shouting top open his Music Beat's debut album. A sermon is exactly correct - what Ed Schrader's Music Beat are spelling out with this often repeated chant is a suitable description of what's to come. With this mission statement heard loud and clear the duo preach to an unsettled flock, and it's the sense of unsettlement that is a constant throughout the album.
Through the slower tracks such as 'Gem Asylum' and 'Airshow' the Baltimore duo set out their more subtle compositional traits with sparse or no instrumentation backing Schrader's voice, the former of which brings to mind 'The Drift' era Scott Walker. 'Airshow' sounds like something of a lullaby with Schrader's a capella voice moving nimbly around an invisible tune before the rough pulsing interference that's brought in just over halfway through takes over and brings the album into 'Sugar', which sounds like a half remembered 70's pop tune sung by the inmate of an asylum with only drums for backing.
When ESMB pick up pace the do so with a jolt, bringing the listener into the anger apparent with a car crash of sound, as they do in 'Gas Station Attendant', the track that follows 'Sugar'. Schrader's nasal scrawny shout is unrecognisable in tracks like 'Gas Station Attendant', 'Rats' and 'Sermon' compared to the slower and more tuneful tracks such as 'Gem Asylum' and 'Airshow'. At these points Schrader produces an impressive snarl that possesses the coldness of Daniel Miller during his The Normal time with all the tooth curling rage of Whitehouse. He still keeps the same repetition used through the slower paced tracks to add power to his messages.
While repetition is key to understanding the album, the tracks never feel worn out or tired. Spanning little over 21 minutes in its 14 songs, it plays closer to a hardcore album than anything else, and perhaps that's what it alludes to most. While it's clearly removed from most hardcore it slots in well with a lot of the noisier movements that possessed music from the late 70's onwards, from punk to hardcore to the more experimental, noise based troubadours such as JG Thirlwell.
Repetition may well be a constant motif for ESMB, but the album itself at no point gets repetitive. The title Jazz Mind seems apt - the constant eratic tracing through memorable motifs and both the subtle provocation of a certain mood to breackneck changes in tempo and style shows all the signs of a Jazz Mind, albeit one that seems fixated on anarchy and the unsettling nature of the mind.