Unconscious Collective
Pleistocene Moon
2xLP (Tofu Carnage Records)

In this post-everything musical era, it’s still possible to be surprised by new music. Dallas trio Unconscious Collective’s uncompromising blend of jazz, prog and punk idioms is both deeply personal and archetypically potent, and they’re captured at their best on sophomore double-LP Pleistocene Moon.

Unconscious Collective Pleistocene Moon-coverMost of this music stays close to jazz head/solo forms, though the heads tend to be nimble figures that recall John McLaughlin’s work in Mahavishnu Orchestra, and the solo sections transform into intense guitar/bass/drum improvisations in the harmolodic tradition of fellow Texan Ornette Coleman. The band displays both incredible virtuosity and the reckless abandon of primordial noise/punk, balanced by subtler passages appearing at perfect moments. Saxophonist Mike Forbes appears on half of the album, bringing the climax of pieces like “Requiem for Biodiversity” to heights not heard since the days of Last Exit.

The album opener and closer introduce even more wild influences, creating ominous, ritualistic vibes. The title track opens the album with textures of wind, distant wolves and ritual chanting, gradually coalescing into a heavy riff that evokes the dark atmospheres of bands like Guapo or Univers Zero. And album closer “Greedy Tongues” is mostly a solo coil-spring percussion piece, bathed in deep reverb and modulating delay effects. Recalling the early industrial percussion work of folks like Z’EV, the piece offers a unique end to a complex album. If you’re up for some deep musical contemplation, Pleistocene Moon proves to be as rewarding as it is demanding.

–Scott Scholz