Music Review: Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt – Brace Up!

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Chris Corsano & Bill Orcutt

Brace Up!

[Palilalia; 2018]

Rating: 4/5

It’s obviously getting late. So don’t be reluctant to call this whatever you want. Call it all day. Call it work. Call it a stress test. Call it a call of the wild, wild western value pak, sent pak, pak it in while you still can, braced for impak. Call it thick walls splitting deep seams and big sleeps under a collapse-ceiling duvet. Call it maelstrom. Call it hatch battening. Call it calm in a time of folksy animal abuse analogies on the progressive side of debate. Call its name through a glad din, glad you’re drowned out in red hot spite of yourself. Call it horseshit thru the wrong side of the glue factory exhaust fan. Call it just to hear the sound of its voice. Call it in for the night. Call it in for that endless fucking night. Call it sinister love. Call it one song or a dozen. Call it tight-rolled, close-knit quilted quicker picker-upper. Call it crying. Call it flailing. Call it desperate. Call it on the line. Call it calling out, pleading to whoever’ll listen.

Rough and ready, raw and replenishing, Corsano and Orcutt. The answer to any call worth making and a round repudiation of ordering principles and prescribed prerequisite. They shake out in the middle of the room (your head) like heedless sopping dogs, spraying out some wholesome greenslime smoothie upon all in its muggy circumference. Their sound is stirring in ways both contagious and confrontational. It is the fresh sting we didn’t know we wanted needed. The memetic diagram gracing Brace Up!’s cover is a beautifully succinct summation of what’s inside: human turbine Corsano is the whirling skyward anchor, Orcutt the fearless lunge, and this album the total world destruction they (and we all) precariously orbit.

The former Harry Pussy guitarist, having provided one of the highlights of last year with his self-titled solo album, sounds more p&v primed for the times than ever. He shreds on Corsano’s always awe-inspiring cascades with a grinding rock spirit that seems more 2018 essential than any pedestrian or ironically tender protest song, incidental mumblesing and all. If there are good words for what is happening to us, they’ve all been used and then some. Even those with the sly advantage of being professionally tasked to extol exasperation over the redundancy of everyone else are inescapably stumbling into what they #loathe. The restless exclamations hurled about on this record are onomatopoeias that have yet to acquire their own block letter comic book bubble homes. They are peals of unobservably vast revelations that one can only tilt at like a trepidatious Terry Gilliam fan, looking to see where The Man Who Killed Don Quixote isn’t screening. That there are curious, often funny (“He do The Police in Different Voices” is a fave) titles doesn’t change this. We are all expert mad-libbers now, yes. But — and of course this is a small, small thing — even the most arbitrary of titles beats none at all.

These two still out there doing what they do — with or without the cavalcade of amazing folk (Joe McPhee, Richard Bishop, Paul Flaherty, Okkyung Lee, Nate Wooley, Michael Morley, Mick Flower, Mette Rasmussen, and Tashi Dorji, to name a few) they do it with — is a big, big thing. Hearing them is truly being present when all else is endlessly angling toward some lucrative advantage, most often falling out of frame in mid-pitch. Of course, we’ve all been falling, naturally falling faster as we go. And none can catch or even break this fall when the taken-for-solid ground itself is falling along with us. Best to gasp when there’s no grasp. Incoherent, blurted last words have their charm. The leviathan smiles. The mess says, “well ain’t you cute,” plum plummeting with implausible aplomb. Nice knowing us? Well, that dep….

The title of the debut studio album from Chris Corsano and Bill Orcutt is a warning for your currently symmetrical face

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Chris Corsano and Bill Orcutt are a dangerous duo. Word is, the last group of people to see them perform live totally had their faces melted off by sheer, wild, DNA-altering musicianship. And now, the duo are set to release their debut studio album Brace Up! on November 2 via Palilalia. A live album is one thing — those are generally for devotees who know what they’re getting into. But a studio album? People are going to see “Brace Up!” on a list of new releases, get curious, and then, BOOM: it’s Thanksgiving and little Timmy doesn’t have a face.

Fortunately, the album is called Brace Up!, so maybe people will see that title and think, “You know what maybe I better be careful here, take the necessary precautions lest something tragic happen to my face.”

Then again…maybe Corsano and Orcutt aren’t monsters. Maybe they’re just insane technical masters who make unreal polyrhythmic improv magic together. MAYBE their work together sounds like pure chaos, but in reality it’s two dudes who are completely in control, working with and bouncing off of each other, knowing what they want to achieve together, and exactly how to do it.

If you want, check out the artwork and track listing for Brace Up! down below. You can also pre-order the album here, if you’re feeling truly brave.

(UPDATE: Ah! You know what, I talked myself into it. This is just two musicians at the top of their game making their art the only way they know how. I’m sure all that face melting stuff is just a rumor. Let’s take a listen to the song “Paranoid Time,” what could happen?)

Oops, I mean…

Brace Up! tracklisting:

01. Brace Up!
02. Amp vs Drum
03. Double Bind
04. She Punched a Hole in the Moon For Me
05. Poundland Frenzy
06. Clapton’s Complaint
07. Bargain Sounds
08. Paranoid Time
09. The Secret Engine of History
10. Love and Ope Windows
11. He Do the Police in Different Voices
12. Paris Spleen

Bill Orcutt and Chris Corsano re-melt faces with re-release of live records

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In addition to being the most bad-ass acoustic guitar slinger in the universe and creating open source music programmes, Bill Orcutt has been known to take to the road with like-minded percussive foil Chris Corsano to simultaneously deconstruct rhythm, pattern, and the fabric of the spacetime continuum.

In the past, Orcutt’s Palilalia label has released cassette compilations of the highlights from these Orcutt/Corsano shows in depressingly scarce numbers. Two such albums are Various Live and Live at Various, both of which sold out before most people even knew they existed.

Thankfully, Palilalia will be re-releasing a limited run of Various Live and Live at Various as a double vinyl on October 28. You can pre-order now or be an idiot and wait like you did when these bad-boys were released the first time around.