I get why a lot of people despise the avant-garde. I really do. It can be very grating, or so weird that
you cannot make any sense of it. Most things need a context for people to be able to grasp them, and by
definition avant-garde has no such context. I mention this because Andrew Bernstein is pretty far out
there in the avant-garde. This release will not appeal to most people. No, really, you might want to stay
away. It's better that way.
However, what Mr. Bernstein does here is push boundaries. That is why the avant-garde is
necessary. You need people out there totally overthinking things and just experimenting. If that
experimentation proves to be a little grating to many people, well, eventually it will be filtered down
into pop music and people will understand it.
Avant-garde music has kind of a reputation for being elitist, and i think i came across as elitist in that
previous paragraph. That is not what i'm shooting for here. What i mean is that there are these
experimenters, people who do really crazy out there stuff, and then later the crazy out there stuff
influences somebody else and it becomes more normalized, more melodic. Not that the crazy out there
stuff is "better" than the "normalized" stuff, they are just different. Avant-garde is a phase of music --
everything starts off really weird and crazy and then, over time, becomes background music at the
It's like how once jazz was a radical and feared musical genre. Go and read about the reactions
people had to jazz back in the 1940s Ė saxophones and syncopated rhythms would lead to the End of
Society! Now, jazz is the music the classy restaurant plays over the sound system to make them seem
intellectual yet casual. Jazz isnít scary or weird at all anymore. The avant-garde has become normalized.
That is what i am getting at here.
And jazz is actually a good comparison because a lot of this record is based on Andrew Bernstein's
saxophone playing. Yes, he plays avant-garde jazz saxophone. At times...
There are three songs on this release. They are all pretty long, but let me describe them.
The album starts off with Black Noise which is an ambient piece so minimal that it is barely
there. There is just some stuttering static and a faint drone of some kind, the bare sound of tape
recording. It last six minutes of near nothingness, where you strain to hear what is going on. This type of
music makes you work at figuring out what you are hearing.
The second piece slowly fades in from the minimal ambience. The title track is about thirteen
minutes of Bernstein wailing on his sax, just making odd patterns and sounds, the saxophone as a
rhythm instrument and the song as just rhythmic changes. It is the sound of someone playing with their
instrument and making sound for the sheer fun of it. Its unfocused nature might put off many listeners
Exhaust is the last track here, and it clocks in at a whopping 14 minutes. The minimal
ambience of Black Noise starts it off, sound barely there as slowly, inexorably, a drone rises. The
drone is a rumble that slowly rises, filling the world with an ominous drone.
It's weird, mellow, and kind of cool. Not for everyone, certainly, but Mr. Bernstein is pushing some