Editor's Note: This review has been revised to correct a factual error.
The Gorge Trio are drummer/percussionist Chad Popple (Colossamite), guitarist Ed Rodriguez (Sicbay, Flying Luttenbachers) and keyboard player / electronicist John Dieterich (Deerhoof, Natural Dreamers), and their long-awaited, three-years-in-the-making third album satiates their creative impulses with a dazzling set of pranksterish, off-the-scale improv-rock mayhem. Essentially an album of intricately textured sketches, Open Mouth, O Wisp is both tremendously heavy-going and oddly accessible.
The album's more tautly-structured pieces verge on surgical precision. The cardiac musicological flurry of "Intimate Addition", for example, immerses the trio in a stop-start jerk of dizzyingly symphonic math rock. If the "song" lasted any longer than its appointed 92 seconds, musicianly injury would almost certainly ensue. The similarly disorientating scree of "Paris Trap" fuses a multi-layered screech of guitar wail, hyper-caffeinated poly-drum spazz and subtle electronic caterwauling. If you're looking for comparisons, an epileptic fit at a Melt Banana show is about the best I can offer. On "Health Seekers", however, The Gorge Trio seem to embrace a dirty, Zep-like funk, augmented with dainty, skippingly joyful keyboard. Only when the song crashes into a hellbound, spasmodic noise assault are its aims laid bare.
And yet, melodies and rhythms that could be categorized as "recognizable" are presented almost as fleeting thoughts amid more pressing, deliriously scatty improvisational concerns. The album opens with "A Comedy In Sun", a discordant, arrhythmic piano clatter that soon explodes into a bluster of dual-guitar fiddling and sporadic, disjointed drum taps. The subsequent "Memo To An Apparition" is ten (count them!) seconds of spluttering electro-static. Even in the form of tersely brisk sketches, the sheer volume of ideas being subjected to unrecognisable butchery are too vast and scattered to effectively annotate.
With this in mind, Open Mouth, O Wisp really needs to be experienced in order to be fully understood, or at least grasped. A confusing, confounding riot of the trio's haywire imaginations, it is essentially a found-sound patchwork, littered with innumerable moments of fragmented, transitory genius.