Louisville-based free improv group Black Kaspar aim to shred your skull with Schizo-Tech, the latest crazed masterpiece to ooze forth from the tape label known as Loin Seepage. Leader Bill Zink guides his backing band, which features members of longstanding Louisville-via-Bloomington institution Sick City Four, through a dense array of spaced-out drone peppered with moments of sludgy, free-form jazz.
While previous transmissions from Black Kaspar were crafted with little regard to fidelity, Schizo-Tech offers a clearer portrait of the group, with much of the in-the-red fuzz having been lifted to give the individual instruments their own space in the mix. The tracks here are quite a bit lengthier than much of the BK discography, demonstrating an ensemble that’s grown quite comfortable pushing themselves as far out as they can possibly travel. The Sick City Four have been doing this together for decades now, but Schizo-Tech is Black Kaspar’s strongest offering to date due to its skillful marriage of SCF’s free-jazz explorations with Zink’s abrasive, alienating noise. It’s also their most cohesive, thanks to a clearly defined sound palette that thematically aligns each of the three pieces.
Just when you think you’ve got the 23-minute opener “Space Truckin’ Part II” figured out, an overdriven bass guitar cuts through the muck around the seven-minute mark and leads the band on a sonic journey that almost hits like prog rock if, say, the members of King Crimson had their souls sucked out and replaced by extraterrestrials with unclear motives. The title track lives up to its deranged moniker, eschewing drums – or really anything resembling a musical instrument – in favor of a bubbling, frothing pool of feedback and white/black noise.
“Burrowing” takes up all of side B, coming on like a few too many doses of acid kicking in all at once, and proceeds to saw at the skull with a pulsating wall of sound. But that’s just to prepare your brain for the track’s vicious percussion assault, which hammers away just long enough to soften up your squishy gray head meat and mold it into hamburger patties, which are then fed to your neighbors as the tape comes to a close. And dammit if they aren’t delicious.