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Blood Music
Go Off, M8 Dustin Krcatovich , February 2nd, 2021 09:43

Blood Music brings the drums to center stage, leaving everything else in the wings to fine effect

In the beginning was the drum. Sure, millennia have obfuscated the mother heartbeat in countless insidious ways, but drums are what give way to dance, to frenzy… y'know, the good shit. If music is a form of communication beyond words, drums are the guttural howl of the ancients, the pound and throb of eternity.

Drums have long been central to Simon Pomery's work as Blood Music, but Go Off, M8 dispenses with nearly all other trappings, save some stray electronic squall hither and yon. An album of nothing but drum solos may be a dicey proposition for casual lookie-loos, but if you can ride the wave, it's a rush; in other words, it's got a beat, you can dance to it. Kind of.

In press materials, Pomery has the temerity to drop legendary godhead thumpers like Art Blakey and Max Roach into the conversation, but to his credit, you can definitely hear what he's picked up from those illustrious precedents. Some improvising drummers dance around the beat to the point of abstraction, but the tracks on Go Off, m8 rarely stray so far. Pomery's definitely picked up some of Blakey's dependable ear for social music, and he deploys it handily.

That's not to say that these tracks are old-fashioned or fastidiously "in the pocket". Pomery's attack also warrants comparison to modern underground kit champion Chris Corsano — to these ears, the reigning king of the abstract moves mentioned prior — who himself has ventured into this sort of stripped-bare territory on solo joints like 2012's remarkable Cut. There are distinct differences in style, though: both bring an implicit lightheartedness to their pounding sonic heft, but Corsano is more given to flights of extended technique, scraping rims and exploring his instruments' resonant surfaces in ways that can sound deliriously goofy. Go Off, M8 never gets quite that far out, but if it's not as gratifyingly weird, Pomery's dynamic range and focus do a lot to fill that void.

Unless you hate noisy guitars, Go Off, M8 probably isn't the finest collection in the Blood Music catalog, nor is it the ideal place to start for the uninitiated (though to expect as much from new work during a pandemic is, frankly, a dick move). Still, it's a worthy addition to Pomery's catalog, and a fine piece of eardrum-pounding even for casual fans of same.