D.N.E.: 47 Songs Humans Shouldn't Sing

About as anomalous a release from ROOM40 as one could imagine, D.N.E.'s 47 Songs Humans Shouldn't Sing serves up nearly fifty mutant miniatures of No Wave-jazz hybrids in just over half an hour. Eugene Carchesio's saxophone-led pieces appear and then disappear just as quickly but not before conjuring the image of ‘60s NY loft sessions by the likes of Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman. The album is actually twenty years old, the story being that Carchesio paid for 250 LP copies only to have the pressing plant close, taking the master tape with it; copies were circulated to friends but soon enough whatever copies were available disappeared. Originally recorded in a frenzied three days on four tracks of cassette, the Brisbane artist's so-called “lost Australian classic” became a coveted item, with ROOM40 eventually seeing fit to resurrect it in a twentieth anniversary reissue remastered from the vinyl.

Listening to the music's heady mix of scrabbly electric guitar skronk and labyrinthine sax runs, one is reminded of ‘80s-associated outfits and artists like the Golden Palominos, John Zorn's Naked City, Ornette Coleman's Prime Time, and James Blood Ulmer. The longest track at two minutes, “Black” steals a page from the Prime Time songbook with a sing-song sax melody paired with a muscular funk electric bass-and-drum backing. “Heat” seems to tangentially reference the circus-like theme from Nino Rota's Amarcord while “Another” could be an out-take from a Naked City practice session. The album's second half features multiple stabs at organ-wooden flute-and-percussion-fueled exotica, with Carchesio and unnamed cohorts indulging in Eastern-styled mysticism in twenty-second doses. Jazz purists will sniff derisively over the material, given the sax's sometimes sour tone; those with an appetite for “punk jazz,” on the other hand, will be far more receptive to the collection's off-kilter charm.

February 2009