Caspar Brötzmann Massaker

  • Caspar BrÖtzmann Massaker
  • The Tribe (Ger. Zensor) 1987 
  • Black Axis (Ger. Marat/Zensor) 1989 
  • Der Abend der Schwarzen Folklore (Ger. Our Choice/Rough Trade) 1992 
  • Koksofen (Ger. Our Choice/Rough Trade) 1992  (Homestead) 1993 
  • Home (Thirsty Ear) 1995 
  • Caspar BrÖtzmann Massaker/Peter BrÖtzmann
  • Last Home (UK Pathological) 1990 
  • F.M. Einheit/Caspar BrÖtzmann Massaker
  • Merry Christmas (Thirsty Ear) 1995 

As a second-generation avant-noise provocateur, this crunch-rock-dallying free jazz guitarist has yet to develop the visceral improvisational extravagance shown by dad Peter (the hard-blowing saxophonist who’s recorded with Sonny Sharrock and Bill Laswell in Last Exit). He has, however, demonstrated a heartening willingness to perpetuate the more-is-more attitude synthesized by the raucous proponents of post-Ornette ear-blister (that despite an unhealthy proximity to Berlin’s goth-rock contingent).

The first Massaker album, recorded when Caspar was a mere snip of a lad, is easily identified as a debut. The guitarist is feeling his way around in search of a voice — one which he almost manages to cobble together from bits of Sharrock-styled muscle-flex and icily jagged single-note projectiles inspired by Blixa Bargeld’s Einstürzende Neubauten work. More a curio than anything else. By the time of Black Axis, Brötzmann had matured considerably. With little apparent effort, he, bassist Eduardo Delgado Lopez and drummer Frank Neumeier manage to sustain some comparatively epic-length songs (most impressively the fourteen-minute title track) by asserting enough cyclical themes to buoy the largely improvised music just this side of shapelessness’ breakwall.

Der Abend der Schwarzen Folklore only sporadically emphasizes the monochromatic industrial hues on which the trio had previously lit. Brötzmann (who spends too much time flaunting his Nick Cave-like groan-he’d be better off if, in the words of Frank Zappa, he’d shut up and play his guitar) and Lopez are joined this time by the more Neubauten-esque percussionist Danny Lommen (ex-Gore), who brings a mechanical precision to forbidding pieces like “Bass Totem.” Fortunately, Brötzmann spends much of Koksofen following Zappa’s admonition, guiding Massaker through five live-in-the-studio improvisations that establish a much more finely tuned dynamic grasp: “Hymne” buries the guitarist’s isolated note flurries in stoic, discreet percussive underbrush; “Kerkersong” storms from thrash-metal into Last Exit-styled swagger halfway through its eleven-minute run. Home consists of the trio’s radically changed re-recordings of early tracks (mostly from the first two Massaker albums); the contrasts are marked, both in Brötzmann’s confidence level and in his willingness to act as poised bandleader rather than sonic dictator.

Neubauten “percussionist” F.M. Einheit (who produced Home) brings his usual array of metal constructions and objets trouvés out to play on Merry Christmas, a mistitled, misanthropic collection of sound collages and aggressive ambient pieces. Brötzmann is up to the challenge, splaying elephant screams across the breadth of “Nizzary” and entrapping “Federn Fuckhouse” in a note-bending primordial ooze. On Last Home, the guitarist’s collaboration with his father ranges from strangely poignant to outright hostile — the overall tone is not unlike one of those coming-of-age films wherein dad blusters about his accomplishments loud and long enough to prompt a raging retort from the young whippersnapper being challenged. In 1990, at least, the iron-lunged saxophonist got the better of his offspring: time will tell if Caspar can turn the tables.

[Deborah Sprague]

See also: Einstürzende Neubauten, Last Exit