East West Blast Test | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

East West Blast Test

Popular Music for Unpopular People

Though the world has become so much smaller over the past decade, few have utterly obliterated musical genres, and boundaries between "high" and "low" art, the way John Zorn's supergroup Naked City did in the late '80s. But the second release from bi-coastal correspondence project East West Blast Test certainly comes close enough.


EWBT is the surprise-me-through-the-mail brainchild of two punk, hardcore and metal luminaries -- drummer Dave Witte (Melt-Banana, Burnt by the Sun, Discordance Axis) and guitarist Chris Dodge (Spazz, Stikky, No Use for a Name).


Other than the Burroughsian postmodernist tendency to cut and paste, the record doesn't dwell on any clichés or stand still for a nanosecond. Its contents veer from punk screech, crusty hardcore and ultra-swift grind to cabaret lounge-jazz (vocals by Julee Cruise), odd-time-signature funk, avant-garde squonk and spacey prog rock.


And that doesn't include some of my less obvious faves: musique concrí¨te with German language lessons ("In the Multi-Purpose Room"), a neo-chamber percussion duet ("The Last Drop"), and droning rhythmic workouts, possibly influenced by Papuans and

Australian aborigines.


An aural assault of pure esoteric pleasure, EBWT is best taken in small, action-packed doses -- the better to absorb the Zen-like whole. And for fans of Zorn, Ruins and Dr. Nerve, as well as of Mr. Bungle and Fantomas (Ipecac, of course, is the label run by Mike Patton), it's a slam dunk.