No need for a lengthy introduction to Borbetomagus. The legendary trio of guitarist Donald Miller and saxophonists Don Dietrich and Jim Sauter have straddled, and subsequently radically transformed the intersection where free improvisation meets noise since the late 1970s.
Thomas Pynchon, writing the liner notes for a collaboration between Dietrich and Sauter (that absolutely applies to the aggressive brutality that is Donald Miller on guitar) with Thurston Moore in early 1990, said it best: "These two men are the freest, loudest, swingin'est white motherfuckers to ever jaw-cleave an industrial strength reed. Their work with Borbetomagus has long been a raucous fountain of tonal explosion and aesthetic purity, as well as a black-gloved fist up the diz of all conservative musical architects." So, keeping those immortal words of Pynchon in mind, here are two tracks, off of two particularly choice Borbeto 7"'s, for your listening pleasure.
First up, 1990's incredible "The Original Chirping Chicken." The title track, filling all of Side A, is a particularly controlled and brooding, almost, track for Borbetomagus. With a few pauses interspersed towards the middle of the track, I felt myself actually exhaling, so relieved was I that the track was concluding, only to be started up again a split second later. This is not a criticism of the track, or Borbetomagus's music in general. On the contrary, the tension in this track, and the B Side, "Choking Olga," is something that few groups can achieve, and Borbetomagus makes clear, on this recording, that they've mastered.
Next up, we have 1993's "Coelacanth." The first side, "Coelacanth 6.27.92," stands in sharp contrast to "Chirping Chicken," with far more extreme contrasts. At points, the sax parts sound almost like the chirping of particularly aggressive birds, and the piercing slide of Miller's guitar, cello-like on much of "Chirping Chicken," achieves a piercing quality, not too unlike a human shriek. The texture here, though, is just as rich, with the interplay between Dietrich and Sauter particularly striking -- one can hardly tell where one sax starts and the other ends.
What these two tracks, just as much as the longer pieces that make up most of Borbetomagus's full-length LP, the incredible cohesion of Miller, Dietrich, and Sauter is really highlighted, without any individual part losing its distinctive nature. Borbetomagus somehow make what should be simply chaotic free-for-all's of two saxophonists and a guitarist into in-your-face all-out audio assaults.